5 Common Myths About Working With Executive Recruiters

Businessman using online resume search, choosing cv, human resouConsidering calling a recruiter to assist in your executive job search?

If you haven’t worked with recruiters in the past, you might be confused about what to expect in your interaction.

It’s worth your time to get familiar with recruiting practices for C-level, EVP, VP, and other leadership positions, as well as to avoid pervasive misconceptions.

Here are common myths about working with recruiters when seeking an executive position:

1 – You can just call an executive recruiter to find a new job.

Recruiters don’t find jobs for people; they find people for jobs. Paid by client companies, recruiters themselves don’t dictate requirements.

Instead, employers pay recruiters to find best-fit leadership candidates, often with a strong progression inside an industry or function, such as a CIO who has moved up from a VP of IT.

If you’re an entrepreneurial leader, executive consultant, or career changer, a recruiter may believe you’re a great candidate, but they can still face an uphill battle convincing clients to interview you.

Just like any job search tactic, a call to executive recruiters should be only one part of your strategy. Social media and in-person networking, a solid list and pitch to target employers, and conversations with hiring managers should be high on your list.

2 – The recruiter wants to hear why you hate your job.

RecruiterIt’s a recruiter’s mission to find the best-qualified executive candidate, not to counsel you through a litany of problems from your last job.

Keep in mind – the recruiter is acting on behalf of the employer, not you. Therefore, they’ll relay information about you to hiring authorities at client companies, including details you consider confidential or that fail to present you in the best light.

Savvy executive recruiters will carefully profile you as a candidate in order to source the right leader at the right company, so you’ll need to converse with them the same way you’d conduct an executive interview – using a straightforward presentation of your strengths and career achievements.

3 – Recruiters will call you regularly with status updates.

Frustrated executiveWhile it can be frustrating to experience radio silence during your executive search, consider what goes on in the recruiter’s office.

Just like you, they’re working with (and waiting on) client company hiring decisions for the best-fit executives – and those company requirements can sometimes change significantly throughout the hiring process.

In addition, executive recruiters may be competing with others in their field. Just because they’ve presented you doesn’t mean the employer will make you an offer. Successful recruiters are also juggling new job requirements, making candidate matches, or profiling additional leadership candidates.

If all seems quiet during your discussions with a recruiter, they may not have status updates to provide, or the client company may have changed course – and you should therefore continue other job-hunting activities.

4 – A local recruiter is the best option for your executive job search.

Not only do executive recruiters source candidates worldwide, but many of them work within an industry specialty. This means the manufacturing COO job you are pursuing might be filled by a recruiter across the US – or across the globe – not by a recruiting firm in your city.

Social media and online search have transformed many aspects of the job search. Therefore, you’ll benefit from looking closely at the niche industries and talents sought by specific recruiters (and employers), no matter their location or yours – and carefully selecting several resources to contact as part of your strategy.

5 – The best executive jobs are often filled by recruiters.

Hiring industry surveys consistently report that only 10-20% of jobs are filled by recruiters. If you’re limiting your executive job search to this method, you could miss out on the majority of new executive requirements.

Instead, take the time to consider the best company type, size, industry, location, and other factors matching your strengths, using this information to create a top list of potential employers. Find connections in these companies and follow them on LinkedIn to get news announcements, such as plans for a new subsidiary or line of business.

Craft a set of reasons these target employers would benefit from your expertise, and approach the top leaders or owners to share your thoughts and introduce your qualifications.

These efforts can yield much stronger results than limiting your activity to recruiter conversations.

In summary, recruiters work to meet the requirements of companies in need of strong executive talent.

While you may be a great fit for these opportunities, there are others to be found through your own efforts, namely networking in professional associations and building a target list of companies and hiring managers for personal interaction.

Consider incorporating every avenue – including recruiter contacts – to locate the best executive opportunity for your skills.


I partner with C-suite and rising leaders to capture top opportunities at Fortune-ranked companies, niche firms, startups, VC and PE enterprises, and multinationals – even in a competitive market. Contact me to find out how to get the results you deserve.

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