If the time has come to accelerate your career and you are ready for a change, chances are you’ve considered reaching out to executive search firms.

Partnering with executive search firms can be an excellent way to expedite your search and begin exploring opportunities, but it’s best to carefully plan your approach. Read on to discover some top tips to consider when reaching out to executive search firms.

Executive Search Firms

1. Make sure your resume reflects your fitness for precise future opportunities.

Obviously, you will need to update your resume in order to present your most recent and most relevant experience. But resist the temptation to merely add your most recent experience to the top, without fully analyzing what your resume is communicating. You’ll need to consider how your resume positions you—whether it immediately relays the appropriate organizational level in which you fit, your key differentiators, and the business challenges you are prepared and eager to take on.

These elements evolve over the course of one’s career, and if your modus operandi is to add your most recent experience to the top—retaining the same summary section and shifting the rest of the experience content down—you are not evolving your message along with your career.


2. Identify recruiters in your industry.

It will be a waste of time for both you and the search consultants you reach out to if you do not first research which firms are most likely to have positions within your industry. Armed with a focused list, those you reach out to may be more interested in speaking with you regarding current positions they are looking to fill and future opportunities.


3. Write a focused cover letter.

A brief cover letter or e-note that communicates critical information will likely lead to higher recruiter response rates. Be crystal clear in relaying your career target, your primary achievements or qualifications, as well as other important information such as salary expectations and willingness to relocate. Resist the temptation to rehash everything on your resume. Your goal is to spark an interest and save the recruiter valuable time by relaying only what they need to know to determine if you are a match for their open searches. Expect excessively long cover letters to go unread.


4. Have a helpful attitude.

Before you reach out to your focused list of recruiters, make sure you do a reality check by putting yourself in the shoes of the recruiters. Understand that they are not paid to find you a job, rather they are paid to fill positions for their client-companies. They may not be eager to interview you or speak to you at length on the phone if there is not an immediate position that you would be a good fit for.

However, if you do speak to a recruiter, think of it as an opportunity to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Ask about opportunities, but also ask how you can help them, perhaps by identifying potential candidates within your industry for open searches.


In sum, executive search consultants can be key allies in helping you identify potential opportunities. But make sure that you do your homework beforehand—carefully updating your resume, identifying the right firms to reach out to, and preparing an effective cover letter—and be sure you approach them with a helpful, collaborative attitude. 


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