Here are five DO’s and DON’Ts for executives in working with recruiters for job search and career management:
1. Definitely DO contact recruiters who recruit at your level and in your specialty areas, and work to develop a relationship with them.
You can do this by periodically forwarding them a current executive resume and short letter updating them on developments in your career. Make sure the relationship is two-way: Provide them with any assistance you can in sourcing candidates for related positions that are inappropriate for you.
2. In sending your executive resume to recruiters, DO remember this caveat: It is best not to follow up by phone. Recruiters generally consider this an annoyance and pet peeve.
3. DON’T expect recruiters to do anything that is not in their immediate or short-term best interest.
One of the most misunderstood aspects of executive job search among my executive clients seems to be the nature of recruiting firms and how they operate. An executive recruiter is not going to ‘market’ you! Recruiters are very task oriented toward fulfilling current job orders, and if a candidate’s qualifications are not a very close match for the requirements, they have no interest. Thus, there will be no response to the executive resume you send in unless it appears to be exact match for a current assignment. Recruiters do not try to “place” candidates because there is simply no money in it.
4. DON’T listen to those who say it is unlikely you will find your next position through a recruiter.
While statistics generally quoted say that recruiters fill a low single digit percentage of jobs, when you restrict the universe to high-level management and executive jobs, the picture changes. Think about it: If you were to suddenly vacate your current position, what would be one of the first steps your company would probably take to start the search for a replacement? More than likely, they would retain a recruiting firm if your position is at VP level or above, and certainly for C-level positions. So no matter how you make your first contact with a company, at some point you are going to be dealing with the recruiting firm they retained.
5. DON’T despair if you hear nothing back from recruiters to whom you’ve sent your resume.
When you forward your resume to recruiters you know or send it to a targeted group of recruiters you have identified, you may get one or more calls immediately, or you may experience total silence–at first. Anecdotal evidence from recruiters in various professional forums indicates they may hold on to executive resumes of quality candidates for one or two years or even longer, waiting for a job requisition to come up that is a match. I have personally had numerous clients and friends who received calls months or even years later from a recruiter, many times resulting in an exciting career move. So liberally plant those seeds; you never know when one will sprout.