4 tips to get on the radar of executive recruiters

executive search consultants

Even as a manager you sometimes want to go higher. Or a new challenge. Or just want to earn more. How do you get executive recruiters or executive search firm to notice you?

Of course you can try your luck yourself, but the best way (for both your ego and your wallet) is to get a call from a executive recruiter. But how do you get on the executive recruiter’s or executive search firm’s radar? How do you make sure an Executive Search gets to you?

Distinguish yourself from the ‘normal’ manager

Executive recruiters don’t work as, for example, scouts at a football club. So you can call a executive search firm yourself with the message ‘I’m available’. But that in itself is really not enough to get on the potential list. Our experience is that managers automatically come into the picture when they do the right things,’ says Richard Hoffman, senior consultant at Taplow Group, where executive search services are also offered. It’s really the way they present themselves and express that which makes them find themselves’.

Those ‘good things’ come down to common sense, and according to Neil Waters they make the difference between a ‘manager’ and a ‘leader’: give direction and inspire, use your intellect and follow your instincts, show who you are and what you stand for, and so on. If all goes well, you already have that, but that’s how you make the difference with ‘regular’ managers. That’s why it’s useful to know how to further increase visibility.

Trade journals

Executive recruiters also read the magazines, especially the trade journals in the sector in which they are active. You guessed it: from that they can already tell which qualities you have and what your style is. Besides, it doesn’t have to be that you are the main character in such an article: even if you are mentioned sideways, this can be of value to an executive searcher.

Make sure you’re well known

It is important that you maintain a good relationship with your colleagues at work. Executive recruiters often call others to find out things about the target. Of course, we often know more people within an organisation, and not just the one person,’ says Neil Waters. That’s when we hear from someone else whether the image is correct. So it’s not just about whether someone likes you: they have to recognize in you what the executive recruiters is looking for.

Consider also that a game can be played at this point: a recruiter will call you and ask you who you can recommend for a particular post. Sometimes (not always) the executive search firm secretly hopes that you will put yourself forward for it.

If not, do yourself a favor. Don’t mention the name of the very best colleague in your company with whom you enjoy working. Unless, of course, you want that person to work for the competitor.

Contact us yourself

The whole process of conversations, scouting, or whatever you want to call what executive recruiters do, is an ongoing process according to Neil Waters. As mentioned earlier in this story, it can’t hurt to contact an agency yourself, even if you’re not directly looking for change. We like to meet potential leaders as early as possible, so we can follow their careers and make a prediction about their possible development,” says Neil Waters.

On the other hand, for managers it means that they can choose which agency is right for them. So it’s something mutual, because we get managers who fit our vision and culture’. The agencies can also differ from each other: one keeps quiet until they need you, the other stays in contact fairly regularly.

Manager and organisation must fit together

The most important thing is to bear in mind that one manager is not the other, just as much as one organisation is not the other. Executive recruiters are looking for someone with a certain profile to lead a certain company with a certain culture. You have to ask yourself what qualities are being sought, and translate those qualities from within yourself as well as possible. If someone says “I’m an entrepreneur”, and the questioning doesn’t reveal anything, then the question is whether that quality really suits you,’ explains Neil Waters.

On the other hand: maybe they’re not looking for an entrepreneur at all, but someone who fits the shop, for example. An organisation must be ready for a certain form of leadership,’ says Neil Waters. If a manager says that he likes to work with others, while the organisation he is looking for is actually divided into kingdoms of all kinds of managers, then that is not going to work. Talking to the mouth is not for him, because as Richard Hoffman also says: “every disadvantage has its advantage”.

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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