How To Find An Executive Recruiter For Your Job Search

two colleagues at a table discussing how to find an executive recruiter

So, you’re thinking about how to find an executive recruiter to help you elevate your career? Congratulations! But when it comes to your next professional move, you don’t want to settle – and you shouldn’t settle for just any executive recruiter, either.

Tips for Finding an Executive Recruiter: Do Your Homework

As excited – or exasperated – as you may be at the prospect of a job search, figuring out how to find an executive recruiter should not be your first move. Instead, you need to do some serious brainstorming, even soul-searching. Just like getting ready for a key strategic business meeting, it’s important to plan and prepare so you can have the most effective discussions with the best potential for success.

Start with a self-assessment. What are your career goals? Your strengths? Weaknesses? Your notable achievements?

Then, think about where you want to go. What type of role do you envision yourself taking on next? Do you want a large, medium, or small company? What kind of professional environment appeals to you? How important are a hybrid work schedule and other work-life elements? Do you have any target companies in mind? Do you know the difference between a headhunter vs recruiter? 

Finally, be sure to not only update your resume but also flow those changes straight into your LinkedIn profile. In fact, show your LinkedIn some extra love. That picture of you from three job changes and two hairstyles ago? Swap it out with a recent image that’s warm, well-lit, and welcoming. Enable the “open to work” feature if it won’t jeopardize your current role. Adding a few industry-relevant keywords after your name (“Pat Johnson – Financial Auditing Expert”) can also help you stand out in all the right ways.

Consider highlighting your expertise even further with a LinkedIn post or two to network and build engagement – and show both your recruiter and your next employer that you’re a knowledgeable, creative, take-charge leader who will be an asset in your new role.

Narrow The Field: Develop Your List of Potential Recruiters

So many executive recruiting firms, so little time … and so much riding on the outcome. You need an executive recruiter who will actively advocate for you. But how can you find the executive recruiter who will get the job done?

Of course, you can comb through Google searches and LinkedIn profiles, where you’ll certainly uncover countless executive recruiters, including many in your field.

But it usually makes more sense to take a more personal approach through networking or word of mouth. Talk to trusted colleagues, family, or friends about their experiences with executive recruiters.

Even better, if you know people who have similar skill sets as you, and who have reached the level to which you aspire, ask them how they got the job. If any of them used an executive recruiter, then you’ve found your first target.

Choose Your Champion: How to Find an Executive Recruiter

Once you have a list of potential partners, it’s time to request virtual or face-to-face meetings. But don’t spend weeks interviewing dozens of executive recruiters. Narrow your list to no more than five. Then have candid informational chats with each one. Talk about what you want to do, what you think your next step is, and what their processes and timelines are.

Here’s a quick checklist of qualities that you should consider when talking with executive recruiters:

• Responsive. A recruiter who can’t be bothered to return your calls or “click” in your conversations isn’t going to bother to hunt down the best roles for you.

• Trustworthy. When you talk with someone who follows through on commitments, seems authentic and approachable, and is transparent and humble – you can feel confident that person will be an effective partner in your search.

• Experienced in your industry. Someone with specialized skills and a deep understanding of your field is likely to be able to open more doors and should be a top candidate. But if you meet an executive recruiter who doesn’t focus on your niche yet possesses other characteristics that resonate with you, don’t necessarily cross that person off your list. Dive deeper to determine whether the recruiter is willing and able to network to find the best opportunities for you.

• Interested in building a relationship with a personalized approach. Executive recruitment is about more than filling a spot – it’s about matching the right professional with the right position. Smaller agencies tend to excel in this area, as they aren’t working with dozens of candidates like you – they are working with and for you.

It’s a Two-way Street: Help Executive Recruiters Find You

Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of working to find an executive recruiter on your own, a great recruiter found you first and was eager to represent you? It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound.

To attract executive recruiters, start by ensuring your LinkedIn profile is current, compelling, and comprehensive, with relevant keywords showcasing your key experiences, skills, and achievements. Join LinkedIn groups, consider making a post or two to highlight your thought leadership, and engage in discussions to demonstrate your expertise in your industry. Get involved in online and in-person networking events to build professional relationships in your field and beyond.

Stay active and visible, and an executive recruiter with a promising opportunity may just show up in your inbox. Check out our essential job search tips to learn more about these types of tactics.

The Last Piece of the Puzzle: How Do Employers Find Executive Recruiters?

Savvy employers retain search firms for hiring opportunities. To find an executive recruiter who understands their field, culture, and hiring requirements, they use many of the same tactics you would. This could include referrals from industry peers and professional organizations, online searches, industry conferences and other events, job boards, and even market research analyzing the recruiter’s reputation and performance.

The executive recruiter an employer chooses can be important to your job search, because it affects your exposure and access to opportunities, the advice and support you’ll receive throughout the process, and how quickly and reliably you can be matched with an organization that aligns with your professional interests.

Understanding what your target employers are looking for in an executive recruiter can help you develop a strategy to connect with the right recruiter – and the right job.

• If you’re qualified and ready for that corner office, start with a retained executive search firm, which is likely to work with larger corporations looking for C-suite executives to make a strong impact.

• Looking for a role in a specific industry or handling a specific function? There’s probably a recruiting firm for that, with employers interested in your expertise. If it’s a niche market, try a boutique executive search focused on your specialty.

• When you’re still in the mid-level of your career, you might want to seek out contingent recruiters, who generally work to provide potential small- to mid-size employers with a pool of candidates for consideration.

• Sometimes, you just want a short-term role, maybe to try out an industry or to fill a gap before your next full-time gig. Interim executive recruiters may be able to match you with a company that’s also in transition or that needs your kind of leadership for a specific period.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Know The Signs That It’s Time to Go

But how do you even decide to find an executive recruiter? If you already have a job, realizing that it’s time to move on can be challenging.

It’s possible you’re energized about making a change – following your planned career trajectory, learning more about your specialty, changing industries, seeking a better cultural fit, moving to a new town, or having a greater impact. That’s an easy call.

Maybe you’ve had your eye on a role at your company, and due to restructuring, leadership changes, market fluctuations, or the luck of the draw, the job went to someone else or disappeared entirely. Your opportunity just went out the door, and you might want to head out as well.

Or perhaps you’re getting used to that Sunday night stomachache or other symptoms that your current gig just isn’t a good fit anymore. You don’t need to put up with those unpleasant feelings – find an executive recruiter who will work with you to explore opportunities tailored to your unique talents. Then choose a partner who is not only a savvy executive recruiter with a proven track record, but who also demonstrates a clear commitment to hearing, understanding, and fulfilling your career goals and matching you with your next dream job.

Daley And Associates

When you’re ready to find an executive recruiter, Daley And Associates can help. We match candidates of all levels to the right positions for their skills and goals, at organizations from promising start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. We have the expertise and vision to work with you to find and place you in the role that meets or exceeds your goals. Ready to get started? Contact the Daley And Associates team by phone or email today.

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