If using an executive recruiter (or as some people call them a headhunter) is appealing to you, then here are some key points to remember when identifying, contacting, and choosing:
1. Executive Recruiting Is Generally Specialized
It is very difficult for an executing recruiting firm to be proficient in more than a couple industry verticals or job specialties. What makes an executive recruiter stand out and more helpful to a job seeker is that recruiter's depth of network and contacts. It is difficult to obtain this depth if the recruiter is spread over too many industry verticals or job specialties. The stronger a recruiter's network is, the better it is for you to be placed in your area of expertise. It is very important for you to ask the recruiter what he/her area(s) of expertise is. For example, you would not engage a technology executive recruiter if you are looking for a role in education or healthcare.
2. Executive Recruiters Are Engaged By the Client
Many job seekers are under the false impression that an executive recruiting firm will take their resume and "shop" it around to various companies. In a sense, those job seekers want the executive recruiter to function as their agent. This is not how the process works. Executive Recruiting firms are almost always engaged first by a particular client to fill a specific role. Companies do not want recruiting firms to send them unsolicited resumes if there is no specific opening available. Once the recruiting contract is signed for that specific role, the Executive Recruiting firm will begin the search and start to research and then contact potential candidates. It is at this point, the executive recruiting firm will reach out to you if the role is a good match for your skills. So, it is wise for you to get your resume to the executive recruiter to be placed in their database BEFORE an opening comes up. Most good recruiting firms will research their database and reach out to you at this time.
3. Executive Recruiters Are Paid By the Client Not the Candidate
Never, ever pay an Executive Recruiter to help you find a job. There are firms out there that will charge candidates fees (both upfront and ongoing fees) to work with a candidate to find a job, but this practice is very shady. As mentioned in #2 above, Executing Recruiting firms are engaged by the client to fill a particular role. Because of this, the client is the one who pays the Executive Recruiting firms upon successful completion of the recruiting contract. Reputable recruiting firms never accept fees from the candidates and receive 100% of their revenue for their base of client companies.
4. Local Recruiting Versus Nationwide Recruiting
It is important to align yourself with an Executive Recruiting firm that has the proper stable of clients to help you find your next job. Some executive recruiting firms firms may only have a client base that is local or in a certain specific region of the country. On the other hand, some firms have clients in all regions of the US and even international clients. Depending on your flexibility concerning relocation, it is important to ask executive recruiting firms of how broad that their client base is.
Hopefully, you will find these points very useful during your process of engaging an Executive Recruiting firm to help you find your new role!