AESC President Peter Felix responds to a LinkedIn discussion to comment on the question “Can head hunters regain the credibility many suggest they destroyed during the Noughties?”

“I have followed this debate with interest and suspect that it still has a way to run. As they should, everyone has a viewpoint about executive search because it is a professional service that touches so many.

There is no question that relationships between executives who are seeking work and search consultants could be improved. There are unrealistic expectations on one side and business focuses on the other that are often not compatible. However, the professional search consultant, and I hope this applies to AESC members, should never treat candidates with disdain or disrespect, and should be as helpful as they can within the constraints that they operate under.

I am not sure that we shall ever resolve the complaints made against search firms and individual consultants, but the AESC has as one of its main goals, the raising of standards in all aspects of executive search. The AESC is the only recognized global organization for retained search and has developed strict professional practice and ethical standards as part of its membership criteria. Details about the AESC and its various codes of conduct can be found at our website

I like to think that most senior executives will by now know how retained executive search works – our service has an excellent booklet entitled Executive Search and Your Career, which explains more. What should be clear is that search firms are not employment agencies for senior executives - any executive who is relying on search firms to find their next appointment may be seriously disappointed. We always emphasize the fact that individual networking is key to any career strategy and describe this in detail through the BlueSteps service.

It is very important for us to hear criticisms and perceptions about the executive search profession, but do rest assured that if you are dealing with an AESC accredited executive search firm, then you are protected by a number of rules and regulations that will ensure best practice.”

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​​​​​​​Peter FelixPeter M. Felix has been President of the worldwide Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), based in New York, since 1998. Mr. Felix is a former executive search consultant, who has had extensive experience in association management, in management consulting and in industrial management.

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at


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