How to Effectively Work with an Executive Recruiter

on 11 | 14 | 2023

Executive recruiters have their ears on the ground with talent market trends, hiring demand, and talent supply. Consulting with an executive recruiter can enable an executive to be better positioned for their next move. Is it more scope? An industry change? Better compensation? An executive recruiter can help you figure out if making a change even makes sense at the current time and provide you with networking opportunities to help you gain more insight for when the time is right “for you.”

We caught up with Partner, Chris Rice, to address some common questions:


How early in the job search process should an executive work with an executive recruiter?

As early as possible. The best outcomes are usually from consistent conversations and contact, whether you are searching for a new opportunity or not. The most successful executives who always seem to get the best opportunities are usually very well connected with the executive recruitment industry. They are constantly conversing with recruiters to discuss the industry, where they are professionally, and the help they may need.


How can an executive find a good and trusted executive recruiter? Word of mouth? Through an agency? Where are the best places to look?

If you are searching for an executive recruiter to work with, you can reach out to a few on LinkedIn, but the best way is to use your network. Talk to folks recently placed in a new opportunity and ask who they worked with. An Executive Recruiter relies on their reputation, and getting a referral or reference will be the best way to gain a firsthand account of what it’s like to work with that specific recruiter and firm.


What questions should an exec ask when interviewing/vetting an executive recruiter?

You should look for an executive recruiting partner the way you might look for a lawyer or doctor. A few key points should drive your decision when choosing the right fit: personality, communication style, and reputation. Equally important is connection – you need to feel comfortable with a recruiting partner and feel like they understand your interests and history. Here are some questions to ask of recruiters that can help you get clarity:

  • – What are the companies you have worked with in the past several months?
  • – What size and stage company do you typically partner with?
  • – What level of executive do you typically work with and place?
  • – Do you specialize in specific areas or industries? What are those?
  • – Are you a retained or contingent recruiter?
  • – What’s your process like?


What are the key action steps once an executive starts working with an executive recruiter? What does the plan look like?

The first step is an intake. Spend time with the recruiter to discuss your professional history, short- and long-term goals, network, personal status, ability to move, financial interests, etc. The more information the recruiter has, the better the outcome.

If it is your first time working with an executive recruiter, or maybe you haven’t been interviewed in a long time – take every call you’re presented with. These meetings will also help you calibrate your relationship with the recruiter and align your expectations.

Use consistent and clear communication. You should communicate with your recruiter regularly, even if it is just a quick text message. Let them know if you have any changes in your status or interests. Be honest with them and yourself.


How do you know if switching from one executive recruiter to another is best?

If you are an executive working with a recruiter, remember that they have a service, and that is selling you to their clients. With that in mind, I’d recommend working with a couple of recruiters when you are active in your search to give you the most exposure to the industry and opportunities.