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BlueSteps members have exclusive access to the database of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants – global recruiting professionals who are placing executives at companies all around the world. However, simply “spamming” these recruiters with your resume is not the way to create connections and build a network.

Always remember that recruiters are not in the business of finding jobs for people. Rather, they are paid to find a small slate of well-qualified candidates for their client companies. They regard themselves as experts at finding the right person through research, outreach, and insider knowledge. They are not “trolling for resumes.”

So how can you – the job-seeking executive – get their attention and build a relationship? These tips will help.

executive_recruiters_networkingAlways take a recruiter’s call. When you’re happily employed and not looking for a new job, you might be inclined to brush off those recruiter contacts. However, why not have a 5- or 10-minute conversation to see if you have anything in common? Perhaps this particular recruiter specializes in your industry or your professional function. Perhaps he or she is representing a company that you regard very highly. If nothing else, you can create a positive impression of yourself as a polished business professional … and a basis for ongoing communication.

Recommend your friends and colleagues. If you know of someone who might be interested in the recruiter’s current job opening, do everyone a favor and share this information with the recruiter. The recruiter will be delighted, your friend will be flattered, and you will be in a favorable position with this recruiter, making it much more likely that he or she will take your call or answer your email when you reach out. Now, it’s not a cold recruiter call – it’s a warm colleague connection.

Learn the recruiter’s interests. Whether through a phone conversation, email exchange, or simply your research into BlueSteps' International Executive Search Consultant directory or a recruiter’s LinkedIn profile, always look for the specific areas of specialization for each recruiter. Let’s say you’re a sales and marketing executive with deep experience in technology products and services. You would want to make note of any search professionals who specialize in any of these areas: sales, marketing, technology. Look even deeper for specific industry expertise – for example, telecommunications technologies or software companies – and match those to your background. The recruiters who are the best match should be on the top of your networking pile.

Understand the recruiter’s perspective. The recruiter is paid to find candidates with specific expertise, a precise skill set, and certain intangibles – as dictated by the hiring company. If you don’t have exactly what the recruiter is looking for, you won’t be on the short list (or even the long list). No matter how much you know that you can do that job or learn that industry or overcome that perceived shortfall in your background, you won’t be able to convince the recruiter of this fact, so don’t waste your time. Move on! But keep that recruiter’s information for future contact.

Make yourself visible to recruiters...Not by blindly sending your resume, but by establishing yourself as a leader and an expert in your field. Attend professional conferences – better you, give a presentation. Write a book, an article, or a blog post. Look for opportunities to be interviewed by the media. Serve on an advisory board or take an adjunct faculty position. Recruiters look for experts in their fields – so be that expert, and be visible when they look for someone with your background.

Share information rather than asking for a job or an interview. When you do contact recruiters, it’s fine to mention that you would be interested in appropriate opportunities, but it’s even better to offer something of value to them – access to your network, or specific industry knowledge, or a list of attendees from a conference you attended. Again, by becoming a colleague you elevate the interaction from cold-calling to colleague-sharing.

Remember that recruiters are just one source of job opportunities. Make them part of your job search strategy, but don’t put all of your eggs in that basket. Most positions are found through networking and personal contact with decision makers – yes, even in this day of online job boards and social media, and even for senior executives. Balance your recruiter contacts with traditional networking, online networking, targeted company research, and the occasional online job posting. You never know where that next opportunity will come from – so leave as many doors open as possible.

For more information, register for the upcoming BlueSteps webinar: Top Strategies for Networking with Executive Search Consultants.

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