How to Work Effectively With An Executive Recruiter

Working with an executive recruiter

Effective executive recruiter relationships can play an instrumental part in career advances for the rising professional and the established executive. Whether you’ve worked with executive recruiters before or this is your first time, there is a lot to know about how to build effective working relationships with recruiters. To have an effective relationship with an executive recruiter, it is important to understand the business’s business model and role you play as a potential candidate represented by an executive recruiter. Job seekers that fail to recognize ‘how it works’ with an executive recruiter often find themselves frustrated and unrepresented. Keep in mind these eight points when working with an executive recruiter:

(1) Realize the executive recruiter works for the client company and not for you, the candidate. Look at the payment trail: an executive recruiter is paid by the company to find the precisely right talent—and they are willing to pay a premium for it. Candidates that take the stance that the recruiter is working to find them a job have already showed the recruiter their lack of business savvy and self-centeredness. Don’t let this be you. Savvy candidates recognize the economic aspects of the relationship and works to be a resource to the recruiter. Recruiters want to work with savvy candidates.

(2) Take the recruiter’s unsolicited calls…you never know when your new best friend is calling with the next best opportunity for you or someone in your network. These relationships are built over time, so do not ignore the calls and consider it another form of professional networking.

(3) Develop an online relationship with recruiters. You can likely find them on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Building these relationship can help get a foot in the door, but be careful—tweeting a recruiter every day about your resume and job hunt can be just as irritating for them as flooding their inbox. Just as you would in-person, cultivate a relationship over time and give before you receive.

(4) If the job lead is not right for you, help the recruiter with applicable leads and information whenever feasible. A recruiter’s lifeline is found in the information he/she receives. By providing leads, you are not only are you helping your network (kudos!), but helping a recruiter can pay dividends in opportunity and in karma. Good recruiters will go the extra mile for people who provide them quality information. So if you help them, savvy recruiters will help you.

(5) Don’t waste your recruiter’s time. Do not test the waters with a recruiter—do that on your own time. If you waste a recruiter’s time once, rest assured you will not get the opportunity to do that again.

(6) Make yourself worthy of the recruiter receiving a 25% fee from a company who hires you. As I mentioned in #1, companies are paying recruiters to find the cream of the crop. The hard-to-find, desirable candidate that the company cannot find on their own. So if that is not you, apply to the company directly on your own. This is a simple lesson in economics. To be placed by a recruiter, you need to have a background or skill set that warrants a fee to be paid that hovers around 25% of your salary. So help the recruiter market you by being fabulous and in-demand in the first place. If you cannot be placed by a recruiter, it does not mean you won’t get hired at all, it just means you may have to go a different, more direct route (not a bad thing, by the way—a majority of candidates are hired directly).

(7) Give the recruiter what they need. Some recruiters may ask for references or writing samples—whatever it may be, give the recruiter what they ask for during the appropriate phase in the process. Just like winning over an employer, you have to win over a recruiter. Remember that recruiters don’t work for the candidates, so if you send recruiters your information without giving them exactly what they want, they may not work with you.

(8) Have your resume in a reverse chronological format.Do not use functional resume formats or skills resume summaries. Recruiters find those useless, so do not use those. Executive resume formats are essential to making the best first impression with a recruiter. I also suggest not to go back more than 15 to 20 years for most professionals. While there are exceptions for every rule, erring on the side of less is typically better for most executives. Frankly, you will not get hired in today’s market, nor can a recruiter get a fee, for something you did 20+ years ago. Keep it recent and relevant.

Working effectively with a good recruiter is like a lot of other relationships you have developed in life. Like all worthy relationships, these require time and research. If you find you are not getting calls back from executive recruiters, shift gears and put in as much effort with an executive recruiter as you do with other professional relationships. You will soon find that you will be well on your way to having a successful dealings with the right executive recruiters.

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About Lisa

Lisa Rangel and The Chameleon Team are the only executive resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and job landing consultancy who has been hired by LinkedIn and recognized by Forbes. Our 4-Stage META Job Landing System stems from decades of corporate and executive recruiting experience to position you to land your next 6 or 7-figure role faster.


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