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Q&A: How to find a (Good) Executive Recruiter

Q: “Somer, my situation is a little different and I don't know exactly how to start in my search for recruiters...”

I received this email yesterday. For context, he wrote that he has been at the same company for over 20 years, having stayed through an acquisition. Like many people I speak with, he thought he was going to retire from this company but then plans changed – he’s now actively looking. His industry is very specific and his company doesn’t have many competitors. How does he find recruiters to talk to?

A: Think about transferable skills. Think about function versus industry, since your industry is very niche. Now think about people you know in those roles at other companies. Reach out to them. Ask for a call.

Tell them where you add value and what you’re targeting. Tell them how you’re thinking about transferable skills to their industry and ask their opinion.

Ask them for a favor: when recruiters contact them about positions they’re not interested in, ask them to have those recruiters reach out to you.

Another favor: ask them who placed them in their role, or which recruiters sent them on interviews in the past. Ask for an introduction.

Give: as always, approach these conversations as a giver. What can you give to them?

Then go through your inbox and LinkedIn messages and get back in touch with every recruiter who has contacted you in the last 5 years.


Want more tips and insight?

📘 Discover the behind the scenes of executive search! Check out Search in Plain Sight: Demystifying Executive Search on Amazon. If you've read the book, please consider leaving a review. The book is geared toward executive job seekers, but recruiters have told me they like it too.

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