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How to work with an Executive Recruiter (More Effectively!)

Q: “Somer, except for two recruiters who are personal friends of mine, most of the time I don’t have good experiences. I get ghosted a lot. I want to work better with executive recruiters when I’m actively looking. Is it me? Do you have any tips to navigate this?” – Executive I spoke with last week, plus nearly everyone else I talk to

A: <Shaking my head and sighing> It’s not you. I hear this from most people I talk to. It’s part of what inspired me to write the book, to let people know how it works behind the scenes so they can approach things in a different way and also realize that it’s not always about them.

There’s a whole list of reasons why recruiters are ghosting you. They’re not excuses; it’s just why it happens:

- The recruiter doesn’t have feedback

- The recruiter is stringing you along because you’re not the #1 candidate

- The client is still figuring out what they’re looking for

- The feedback is too hard to share (either because it’s discriminatory, or because you won’t take it well based on their past interactions with you)

- The recruiter has other priorities (aka business development or finding new candidates)

What can you do as a job seeker?

I talk about this in my book Search in Plain Sight: Demystifying Executive Search, chapter 14.

Set things up in the beginning. Ask the recruiter when they have client calls, and set up time in advance to check in afterwards, when they likely have an update.

Harvard Business Review has many tips on how to check in via email and actually get a response. They offer an example, “If you’ve gone in another direction in hiring for this position, please let me know,” or “If there’s someone else I should reach out to for this information instead, please let me know.”

The biggest thing you can do: remember the great recruiters. When you're in a position to hire and work with a search firm, use them. That's how we change the industry.


Want more insights?

Check out my book "Search in Plain Sight: Demystifying Executive Search" on Amazon.

As always, more topics on the blog and sign up for the newsletter on my website:

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