Building and maintaining relationships with executive search consultants should be a vital component of your career strategy, regardless of whether you are in an active job search or just proactively managing your career next steps.

For executives who are new to the executive search industry, it can be difficult to know where to start, but there are several essential do’s and don’ts that can help you on your way.

networking_executive_searchThe Do List

Be prepared: Before networking with executive search consultants you should assess all your career marketing documents and online presence, including your resume/CV, LinkedIn profile, executive bio and cover letter. It is important to make sure that these documents are in order because, should you be of interest to a search they are actively working on, you will need to provide this information immediately. You should also take time to understanding exactly what you are looking for and how to articulate these career goals to others.

Be selective: When developing your networking strategy, its best to create a targeted list of carefully-chosen consultants who are specialists in your industry, function and region. Once you have identified consultants in these areas, this should total around four to six consultants, you can then begin your outreach.

Make a strong first impression: When sending your initial correspondence to your target consultant, make sure you keep your introduction concise and straight to the point. You should aim to introduce yourself with a short paragraph explaining your interest in connecting and then four to five bullet points on what you are looking for, and any professional achievements that would be of interest to them.

Use your existing network: Like with any form of networking, being introduced by a mutual connection can have its advantages. If you know of someone who could personally refer you to a search consultant, it might be in your interest to do so. Your existing connection could also provide you with further advice on how to work with search consultants in general.

Network in-person: Many executive search consultants participate in industry events and seminars both as speakers and attendees. By researching events that your target search consultants are attending in your location, you could join that audience and gain the opportunity to get an in-person introduction.

Make the relationship mutually beneficial: If you are contacted by a search consultant for a specific role, but do not feel as though that role is suited to your professional needs, it can be advantageous to suggest others in your network for the role. This will further endorse you as a useful and well-connected source, which will work in your favor in the future.

The Don’t List

Don’t send mass emails: Many executives mistakenly think that volume over targeted outreach will work in their favor when networking with executive search consultants. It doesn’t. Sending mass emails is strongly discouraged and executive search consultants will spot a mass email immediately, dramatically reducing your chance of receiving a response. Make sure you create a targeted list of consultants to contact, and then explain why you would be interested specifically in working with them as an individual within your initial email.

Don’t ask search consultants to find you a role: It’s important to understand and acknowledge that executive search consultants work for the employer, not the executive. Their client will always be their primary focus; and while they might keep you in mind should further opportunities arise, they will not be able to actively search for roles on your behalf.

Don’t ask search consultants for general career assistance and advice: As mentioned above, executive search consultants work for their client, the employer, so it is not part of their role to review your resume, give general interview tips (unless they are putting you forward for a role), or to provide career advice. This should all be finalized prior to connecting with the search consultants.

Don’t only seek to build relationships when you need them: Creating relationships with search professionals should be done at the earliest opportunity in your executive career. It’s much easier to engage with existing connections when you need them, than to start with a blank page if you have been unexpectedly laid off or had to resign.


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