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  • Brian Cole

How Executive Recruiters can help your career

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Executive Recruiters are often said to hold the coveted keys to the “hidden job market” – career opportunities that aren’t posted via newspaper listings or online recruiting websites. Over the past twenty years recruiting firms have gained more influence, so it is increasingly important for job seekers to understand and leverage this resource. What follows are a few facts about executive search firms, and how they can help your career.

Key facts about Executive Recruiters

1. Individuals do not pay fees to search firms. Instead, the companies that hire them to fill a position pay search firms. This fee is typically equal to one-third of the job’s first-year compensation. Be suspicious of any recruiter who asks you to pay them a fee.

2. There are two types of search firms – Retainer and Contingency. While both types charge the employer a fee and neither charge prospective employees, it is important to note the differences. Retained search firms are hired by a client company for an assignment, and are paid regardless of the results of the search. Retained firms are typically used to fill higher-level positions. Contingency search firms receive payment only when their candidate is hired, and they are most often used for junior and mid-level executives.

3. Don’t limit your search by geography. For many executive appointments, search firms will look nationally or even internationally. It is in your best interest to gain exposure among search firms who fill positions in your industry, function and salary range, no matter where they are. A Chicago recruiter is as likely to have an assignment in Los Angeles as in Boston.

4. Some search firms specialize, while others don’t. To make your search as effective as possible, target most of your efforts towards recruiters who cover your function and specialize in your industry. However, generalist firms should not be ignored, especially at the higher executive ranks.

How these firms can help you

Whether retainer or contingency-based, search firms are handsomely rewarded for filling positions on behalf of their corporate clients. Thus, building a rapport with qualified, reputable recruiters can be a critical component of your job-hunting efforts. When contacted by a recruiter, put your best foot forward. If the position described is enticing, your immediate goal is to sell yourself to the recruiter so she’ll put you at the top of the list of candidates that she recommends to the hiring firm.

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