When you’re in a proactive executive job search, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to advance your job search. Along with networking your way into the “hidden” job market, you’ll want to work with the best executive recruiters.
I don’t recommend that executive job seekers rely too heavily on recruiters to get them into their next role, but they should allot time to connect and stay top-of-mind, with a good number of executive recruiters who specialize in their niche.
First, you need to understand the difference between internal and external recruiters.
Internal (or In-house) Recruiters vs. External (or Agency) Recruiters
Each kind of recruiter works differently. Understanding what motivates them can help you avoid making damaging assumptions that can derail your job search. Knowing how they work with candidates can help you to build positive, mutually rewarding relationships with them.
According to online job search expert Susan P. Joyce in a post on WorkCoachCafe about Executive Recruiters, here’s a basic rundown on the two types of executive recruiters:
Also known as “corporate” recruiters, they work inside the employer’s organization and usually collect a paycheck (salary) from the employer who has the jobs open. Their office will typically be on the employer’s premises, and their email and phone will typically be part of the employer’s email and phone system. So, their email will probably be Jane.Doe@[employer] or possibly HR@[employer], recruiting@[employer], or someting similar. To reach them by phone, you may call the employer’s main number and then ask for their extension, or you may call them directly.
Also known as “independent” recruiters, they do not receive a paycheck from the employer who has the open jobs. They work for someone else, a recruiting firm or agency, which issues their paychecks. You usually know you are working with an external recruiter when you visit their office and it is not in the employer’s premises. Email will often provide good indications, too. Notice the domain name in their email address. If their address is not from the employer’s domain, like Jane.Doe@[recruiting company] or JaneDoeRecruiting@gmail.com, they are most likely an external recruiter.
Go to Susan’s article above for more about the pros and cons of working with internal recruiters and, for more about external recruiters, see her article, How to Work with External Recruiters.
What is the biggest misconception executive job seekers have about recruiters?
According to former executive recruiter Jeff Lipschultz, in an interview I did with him several years ago:
“The number one misconception candidates have is thinking that if they get a resume into a recruiters hands, he/she will instantly land a new job. The reality is timing is everything. If the right job is available and you’re the top candidate, you may get the job. In most cases, it is better to be passively looking and let the recruiter come back to you when the right job surfaces for you.”
8 tips for working with executive recruiters
1. Treat them like you would any other networking contact. Build a relationship with them first (and stay top-of-mind with them) – before asking for their help.
2. Get an introduction or referral to a trusted recruiter from someone in your network.
3. Social recruiting is the norm now. Recruiters mostly source candidates via social networks. Be sure your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking profiles are SEO-friendly (Search Engine Optimization), to make you more visible and findable to them.
4. Interact with recruiters and build effective virtual relationships with them via LinkedIn, Twitter and the other social networks where they hang out.
5. Also try to meet them in person, so they’ll get to know you as a person, not just a candidate. This will help them remember you better, too, when good-fit opportunities come their way.
6. Stay in touch with your recruiter, but not too often. Many appreciate email over phone calls. Communication is essential when your situation changes (i.e., another job offer pending).
7. If a Recruiter contacts you about an opportunity that is not of interest, offer to assist them with referrals or to be a resource for them in the future.
8. To eliminate some of the frustration of working with recruiters, always ask them how their process works, what happens when you send your resume to the recruiter and what you should expect from the recruiter in terms of follow up or actions.
Work with the best executive recruiters
Forbes partnered with the market research firm Statista to compile a list of the top 200 executive search firms specialized in filling positions with salaries of at least $100,000. In a second study, they ranked 250 professional search firms (for annual salaries of $100K or less). Both lists are updated annually.
For the two studies, trade organizations and company databases were consulted, and thousands of employees who had worked with recruiters were invited to take an online survey, asking them to recommend recruiters.
Three of these firms – Robert Half, Korn Ferry and Lucas Group – made it into the top 10 on both lists.
America’s Top 10 Executive Search Firms
- Korn Ferry
- Heidrick & Struggles
- Spencer Stuart
- Russell Reynolds Associates
- Robert Half
- Egon Zehnder International
- Diversified Search
- Lucas Group
For salaries under $100K, check out the 250 top-ranked professional recruiting firms.