How to Network and Work with Executive Recruiters
As an executive with an extensive career record, you naturally want job opportunities to come to you. Executive search firms and executive recruiters can be your trusted partners in career advancement. I asked Lorraine Beaman, a career strategist, author, and host of the Career Central podcast, to share practical tips and help us answer the most commonly asked questions about working with executive recruiters.
I am an executive. What do I need to know about working with executive search companies and recruiters?
Lorraine Beaman: Companies use several recruiting models to find top-performing executive-level candidates. External recruiters work for several companies (clients) and can offer their candidates a choice of employers. These recruiters’ role is to select the best qualified candidate, advocate for them, and place the candidate in one of their companies. They are paid based on successful placements. Internal recruiters find talent for their company. They will identify executive-level candidates and propose available roles to them within their company.
At the executive level, many companies do not publicly advertise leadership positions. A job ad for a COO would give the company’s competitors a market advantage.
Recruiters, executive search companies, and executive leaders in your professional networks will have access to such unadvertised roles. Whether you are comfortably employed or planning a transition to a new role in the coming years, you can benefit from building relationships with executive recruiters.
How do I find an executive recruiter that is right for me?
Lorraine Beaman: It is not difficult to find an executive recruiter on LinkedIn; they often post about their successes. You can run a more specific search by adding your industry, for example: “executive recruiter + finance”. Put the search term in quotation marks and review the profiles of the recruiters and the recommendations they received from their clients and candidates.
Approach several top-rated recruiters and handle it as regular networking. Invite them to have a conversation or attend meet-and-greets; let them know what your target roles are and nurture the relationship over months and years. It is perfectly acceptable to build relationships with multiple executive recruiters. The best time to grow your network is when you are not actively looking for a new role.
At the executive level, you may be often approached by recruiters on LinkedIn. They regularly look among the top companies in the industry. Have a complete, updated LinkedIn profile and respond to requests from recruiters to maintain a relationship. You may not be looking for a new role now, but things can change and it is always important to be prepared.
The executive world is way too small. If you are planning a move, be careful about disclosing it. Make sure that you are working with a recruiter who will keep things confidential and can submit resumes as blind candidates.
If approached by an executive recruiter while you are not looking for a new role, use this as a chance to learn about them and their partnerships. Tell them you are always open to career advancement. Experienced executive recruiters may often already have qualified candidates with whom they have nurtured relationships for years, and they will give preference to those candidates.
How do I communicate and maintain a relationship with an executive recruiter?
Lorraine Beaman: Recruiting is a lot of work in a fast-paced environment. A recruiter spends a great deal of time calling candidates and searching for the right available candidate. Remember that recruiters have specific jobs they need to fill. They are not a placement service. Do not call the recruiter too often to ask if they have a role for you. Trust that they will reach out when they have a role for you. In the meantime, you can maintain the connection by occasionally sending them information about your latest achievements or introducing them to potential candidates in your network. Make recruiters part of your career team. It is not a one-way street.
What is the value of working with an executive recruiter?
Lorraine Beaman: When a recruiter starts working with you as a candidate, they will coach you and tell you about the current needs and issues at the company—to help you prepare for the interview. Be clear about your job expectations because a recruiter is your advocate.
A recruiter knows the salary range for the role while a candidate often does not or may have a guess based on outdated salary research. Recruiters are expert negotiators; they know if they can get you the top of the salary range.
The recruiter also knows how hard it may be to fill that particular position, allowing for more leverage in negotiating. Because recruiters are often paid a percentage of the candidate’s annual salary, they will really help you get your top desired salary.
About the authors:
Lorraine Beaman is an expert at converting interview opportunities into job offers. She guides clients through interview preparation, salary negotiation, and adapting to a new job. Her publications include Career Restart: Practical Advice for Surviving and Moving Forward After a Job Loss. For more information, visit www.lorrainebeaman.com.