You receive a call from an executive search consultant asking for a few minutes of your time. What do you do? Welcome the conversation? Ask if he or she can call you back on your mobile/after work/tomorrow? Or say flat out that you are not interested in speaking? Your response will probably depend greatly on how prepared you are for that call.
Below are a few tips to help you make the most of the opportunity when it does come your way.
Make yourself accessible.
Overly zealous gatekeepers rank as one of the biggest frustrations for executive search consultants. If your administrative assistant or company receptionist refuses to put the call through, you are likely to miss a potentially wonderful career opportunity. Make sure that the right people on your team know that you do in fact accept calls from executive search firms, and have those calls forwarded through.
Perfect your elevator pitch.
Be ready to succinctly describe your professional history, what you do now, and what you are looking for in your next role. Speak clearly and to the point – do not fill your speech with unnecessary acronyms or company lingo. Say what you have to say, and then wait and allow the search consultant to let you know if he or she can help market your experience effectively.
Know the reputation of the search firm.
Are they members of the AESC? How long have they been in business? What are their main sector practices? Who have their past clients been? Do a quick Google search as you speak to find out the answers to these questions, if necessary. Another rule of thumb is to ask the executive recruiter how they found you. Did a mutual acquaintance provide your name? Did the consultant research the industry and read about you in a trade publication?
Are you a source or a prospect?
Find out early in the conversation whether you are being called as a source for information about the marketplace, or as potential prospect for the role the consultant is trying to fill. If you are a prospect, the consultant will usually be willing to provide the name of the company and detailed description of the position. Ask for this information if it is not volunteered. Sometimes assignments are confidential until later on in the process. If this is the case, the search consultant will say so and should let you know at what point you will be given further details.
Be honest.
If you are not interested in the job, say so. And if possible, offer to put the search consultant in contact with other potential candidates. Treat the call as a chance to build a relationship and be as helpful as you can. The next time a more appropriate opportunity arises, you will have already positioned yourself to be on top of the list.


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