In the war for talent at senior levels, executive search firms are and always will be major players. We are in the business of talent, established or emerging, and it will serve you in the long game of your career to make yourself known to recruiters in your industry. Not only do you want to make yourself known, but you want to be known for being a reliable and responsive candidate who can be trusted to communicate our clients.
Be a “best practice communicator.”
Our founder, Ted Chaloner, finds that all-around consistent communicators are rare commodities. He says, “You would think the professional communicators who contact me would be excellent communicators. They would write brilliant cover letters, have perfect resumes and give articulate and interesting interviews. Not the case.” We see so many communication errors, from typos to failure to follow up. These are silly mistakes but they can make you appear disinterested or careless. You want all of your materials and communications to exude professionalism. For example, Ted reminds candidates, “What you name your resume on your own hard drive might make sense on your computer. Think about what it looks like when it arrives in our attachment file.”
Keep in touch.
It is in your best interest to stay responsive and communicative from the earliest outreach with a recruiter through to the negotiation stage. The more information the recruiter has from you about how things are going from your perspective the better he/she will be able to advocate for you and the more opportunities there will be to relay useful feedback to you. It is good business practice to assume that everyone is busy and it isn’t a great excuse for not responding in the digital world. Keeping in touch in the long term is important too, as we keep tabs on people for many years after we first meet or place them. The first person Ted recruited was in April in 1979. She went on from her work at a hospital to other interesting jobs and we recruited her again to manage PR at a premier public television station. That was 22 years of keeping in touch! It is wise to alert recruiters as you make career moves so that they can update that information for their records and so that you will stay on their radar for future opportunities.
If you won’t relocate for a job, say so. If you are interviewing elsewhere, let the recruiter know. If something changes- your interest wanes, your interest grows, you plan an indefinite trip to Paris- let the recruiter know. The recruiter wants you to succeed and needs the relevant information to best know how to present your candidacy. Part of this is speaking openly with the recruiter about how an interview goes. We will get feedback from the hiring party as well and we want to gauge your ability to self-assess- did your impression of the conversation line up with theirs? If something didn’t go well, then we can work with you on strategic follow up and plan accordingly for next time.
Learn their industry.
Find out which search firms work with the kinds of companies you’d like to work for. Who are the best in the business? What do they specialize in? Where are they most active? Focus your efforts on getting to know those recruiters who work in your sphere rather than doing broad sweeping outreach to every search firm that comes up on Google. When you do meet a recruiter, learn what you can about how their business works. The more you understand what they need from you, the more they will be able to help.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.