Executive recruiters can be one of your biggest assets in an executive job search if you know how to grab their attention.
After years working as an Executive Recruiter, I’m going to show you how to get noticed by top recruiters and how to choose the right recruiter to help you find your next leadership role.
1. Get Their Attention on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the best places to get seen by recruiters because they often search here when they’re actively looking for people to represent.
However, they’re going to see 10 people per page in their search results, so it’s important to stand out.
In your profile, use an up-to-date, professional photo and a descriptive headline to increase the number of clicks you receive.
For your headline, don’t just say “Director” or “Regional Director.” Be more specific and say “Sales Director,” “Regional Sales Director,” etc.
You’ll also want to use keywords in your profile to appear in more searches.
Put keywords in your headline, your introduction, and your descriptions of your recent work.
Additional keywords that you couldn’t fit into those sections can be placed in your “Skills” section lower down on your profile. This is a great way to get more relevant keywords on your profile because LinkedIn allows up to 50 skills to be listed here, all of which count as search keywords for your profile.
To find keywords, look at a couple job descriptions of positions you’d like to be considered for. What keywords do they mention? To get more ideas for keywords, you can look at some of your colleagues or people who hold the type of jobs you’re aiming to land.
Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimization helps to automate this process.
2. Make Them Want to Contact You
Once your profile is getting clicked and read, you’ll still need to optimize it further to get executive recruiters excited to contact you.
There are a couple ways you can do this.
First, focus on specific accomplishments. Most people put responsibilities and duties on their LinkedIn profile (e.g. “Managed a team of 10 Sales Associates”). If you want to stand out, focus on tangible accomplishments. For example, you could say, “Led a team of 10 Sales Associates to achieve 178% of 2017 revenue goals.”
Use facts, figures, metrics and measurable results whenever you can.
You can also get recommendations to make your profile stand out further. If you haven’t already, ask a couple of colleagues to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn.
This is a lot more convincing and impressive than simply being endorsed for skills. Executive recruiters know it requires time and effort to write a recommendation for somebody, so this is evidence that you’ve built strong relationships in your career and are someone worth talking to.
3. Be Proactive
If you want executive recruiters to help you, don’t be afraid to initiate contact with them.
Do your own research and identify one or two recruiters in your city that seem to focus on your industry.
Do a Google search for terms like, “Executive recruiters in Boston,” “Sales recruiters in Philadelphia,” “Healthcare recruiters in San Diego,” etc.
You can do similar searches on LinkedIn, too.
Practice your elevator pitch and approach recruiters with your story, what you’re looking for in your job hunt, and why you thought it made sense to discuss partnering with them.
Just like you wouldn’t be very receptive to a conversation with a recruiter who knew nothing about your background, an executive recruiter is going to be a lot less receptive to you if they get the sense you’re blindly reaching out to every recruiter you can find, without a specific reason.
Show them you’ve done your research and understand the work they do, and explain why you’re contacting them in particular. That’s how to get their attention.
4. Work With a Specialist
Now you’re ready to start having conversations with recruiters, but you’ll need to know how to choose the right ones to work with.
As an executive, you need someone who knows your industry inside and out, and ideally, someone who focuses on executive or leadership roles.
So when an executive recruiter calls you up, here are some questions you can ask them to get a better sense of the work they do:
- How long have you been working as a recruiter?
- What level of positions do you typically recruit for?
- How long have you been recruiting in this industry?
- Do you recruit in other industries too?
- Do you work directly with the hiring managers at the companies you represent?
- (The more direct of a connection they have, the more they can influence the process and help you get hired.)
5. Quality, Not Quantity
If you’re talking to 10 recruiters, you might think you’re boosting the chance that you find a great job.
However, by talking to too many recruiters, you’ll often “scare” the best ones off and reduce your odds of landing a top position.
Most headhunters only get paid if you accept a position through them (the exception is if they’ve been “retained” by the company). So, if a high-performing executive recruiter gets the sense that you’re talking to every recruiter you can find, they know their chance of successfully placing you into a job are a lot lower, because you’ll be busy, distracted and difficult to partner closely with.
All of this means they’ll put a lot less effort into helping you.
So while you might get 10 average recruiters putting in a bit of work for you, you’ll miss out on having the help of one or two top-tier recruiters who have the connections and influence to help you land a truly great job in your market.
I recommend aiming to work with one or two recruiters in an executive job search. If one of them isn’t delivering good opportunities, replace them and find another.
6. Know What You’re Looking For
When you go into a conversation with an executive recruiter, be ready to articulate what you’re looking for, or what would get you excited to take a new job.
If you sound unsure, they may be afraid to invest time and effort into helping you explore new opportunities.
Sounding scattered or unsure what you want puts more work on their shoulders, and a lot more risk — risk you’ll end up changing your mind, getting all the way to the end of a hiring process and declining a job offer, etc.
Since most recruiters don’t get paid unless they successfully “place” you into a job, part of their mindset revolves around limiting these risks.
Think about this beforehand and be ready to explain what you’re looking for next.
If you follow these recommendations, you’ll get the attention of top executive recruiters in your job search.
Biron Clark is a professional recruiter, job search coach, and founder of the blog CareerSidekick.com. As a recruiter he has partnered with Fortune 100 companies down to six-person tech startups while helping hundreds of job seekers advance their careers.