Recruiters and Executive Recruiters are often the first hiring influencers to contact a job seeker. Understanding what they do, for whom they work, and why they function as gatekeepers can help you interact successfully and get through that gate and onto the short-list of possible candidates for your dream job.
Who is an Executive Recruiter? Recruiters are hired by an organization to fill open positions that HR doesn’t have the time or the expertise to fill. Recruiters answer the call to fill anything from call centre personnel to an open Board seat. Executive Recruiters are specialists who tend to search for candidates to fill positions within the higher levels of business management, at the C-suite level or above.
What kinds of recruiters are there? Typically, the difference is in the way they are compensated and in the class of candidate, not so much their job description. All recruiters seek out candidates they feel will be a great fit for an open position, but depending upon how they are compensated, the depth of search and vetting varies, as does their understanding of the open position. Executive Recruiters are usually retained and therefore have the time to delve more deeply into all aspects of their job.
- In-house vs. external recruiters: In-house recruiters are direct employees of the company with the open positions, external recruiters are employed by a recruiting firm which has a contract or a desire to fill the open position.
- Retained vs. contingency recruiters: A retained recruiter is paid for the research into the job requirements, and for the search, vetting, and submission of candidates to the hiring organization. The retained recruiter often receives additional compensation for placement and/or retention of a candidate. Recruiters working on contingency are paid only upon placement, so they are less motivated to speed up the process and submit a great many candidates to increase their chance of payment. A contingency recruiter may also choose to submit your resume for positions without your approval, as they are not working exclusively with a single client.
Asking if an Executive Recruiter is retained or contingent tells you a great deal about what your experience working with them will be. If you are concerned about controlling who knows you are open to new opportunities, who sees your resume, or having an in-depth understanding of the open position, contingent recruiters may not be your best ally in your job search.
Why do companies hire recruiters? The search and vetting process are time-consuming. Recruiters offer a way to select the best possible candidate, which allows HR and other hiring influencers to focus on choosing the best of an excellent selection. Recruiters are attractive to organizations deeply affected by the search outcome, such as when large numbers of employees are needed quickly; a search for a highly-skilled or niche candidate; or when the positon impacts the success of the whole company.
Where are you most likely to connect with an Executive Recruiter? Networking events and referrals through a mutual contact are the most common. You could also connect if your online profile closely matches an open position when they search platforms such as LinkedIn.
When will they contact you? Typically, in-house and retained recruiters will contact you after an introduction or referral once they’ve done some research on you, your skills, experience, and background. After meeting with you again, if they feel you’re a viable candidate for a current client, they will submit you for the consideration of other hiring influencers. If you receive a cold call, it is likely to be a contingent recruiter. In-house and retained recruiters also build contact lists, but they rely on networking and referrals so they have a deeper understanding of your personality, skills, and experience.
How can I build a relationship with a recruiter? Executive Recruiters and job candidates have a two-way relationship. It’s very likely that you’ll run into the same Executive Recruiters over and over throughout your career, especially once you enter the C-Suite with your eMBA. At networking events, they check in to see if you are happy in your present position, they email to ask if you know anyone in your field who is searching for a specific job, and they may simply call to touch base quickly to stay on your career radar…an “I’m here if you ever need me again” call. The relationship goes both ways, so make a note of recruiters who have submitted you for great positions in the past and check in at least annually. Know a colleague who is seeking a position? Call your favourite recruiter and pass along the info. Is there a position opening at your company? A word to an Executive Recruiter can put you on their “favourites” list!