While executive recruiters carry a small percentile of the overall jobs available (my last 19 executive clients found their C-level and VP appointments through networking, not using executive recruiters), they can be exceptionally influential in your career management and job search.
Let’s set the record straight right now. An executive recruiter doesn’t work for you, nor do they find you a job. Their work is centered around their clients, not you. By understanding how they work, you’ll have a better chance of being presented as a candidate to the executive recruiter’s client.
Just like successful job seekers, executive recruiters tend to target niche areas or industries. To find the ones who fit your specific career goals, start with the website of any large executive recruitment firm, as most will detail their specialties across all business areas so you can connect with the right executive recruiter.
Because of their workload, executive recruiters aren’t always receptive to receiving calls from potential candidates. That’s why you need to be on their radar and be visible so they can find you when required.
Social media, particularly LinkedIn, is one of the best mediums for portraying yourself as a viable candidate when an executive recruiter researches you online. Just be sure to avoid the fatal mistake I see from so many executives – dropping your LinkedIn activity just because you’re gainfully employed. Keep up the momentum, albeit to a lesser degree than during a career transition, as you never want to slide from recognition.
Be the expert an executive recruiter is seeking
Executive recruiters accept mandates from their clients to hire experts. Attending industry conferences keeps you informed of the latest trends, tactics and leaders in your industry, and maintains your expert status. If you get the opportunity to speak from the stage at these events, you can advance your expert presence even further.
Some recruiters will attend conferences personally and may witness your performance. Others will scan events programs, attendee lists, and social media posts to get a sense of the key players in an industry. Be sure also that you’ve incorporated your conference participation into your LinkedIn profile.
Opening a conversation with a new executive recruiter
If you do manage to initiate a conversation with a new executive recruiter, be specific on where your planned career direction is taking you. Executive recruiters are not interested in coaching or counseling potential candidates. They want to know your specific goals for your next titles, positions and industries.
In the case where you are approached by an executive recruiter, always accept their call, even if you feel that the position in question is not within your career goals or not a fit.
Opening up this dialogue will still surely be to your benefit. Be upfront, as they will appreciate this. If possible, supply some further leads to advance their hunt. This is where you can really boost your rapport and relationship with these key players in your career management.