Demystifying Executive Search

By Jennifer Coleman-

If you are actively searching for a senior-level job, or if you simply want to be considered for new opportunities in your field, executive search professionals are an excellent resource to include in your proverbial Rolodex.

Recently, BlueSteps,* the executive career service of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), hosted a free webinar entitled, “Executive Search and Your Networking Strategy.” The webinar included three panelists who are senior leaders of top-tier executive search firms. These professionals provided valuable information that addresses the primary question our alumni clients ask: “How do I make myself visible to executive search professionals?”

  • Focus on the relationship, not the transaction. Find a small number of search professionals that are a good match for you and treat them like any other important networking contact. When you reach out to a search firm, don’t spam the entire office — try to find the person in the office who represents your target industry or function.
  • Convey a clear goal. Perhaps you are afraid of pigeonholing yourself; perhaps you aren’t certain — in either case, a search professional does not want to have to figure out what’s best for you. This is good practice in general networking — you are easier to help when your audience knows what you want and why.
  • If a search professional calls you, call back! Try to be helpful even if you aren’t interested. Spencer Stuart, one of the most respected names in executive search, actually keeps track of candidates’ responsiveness and willingness to suggest ideas.
  • Take LinkedIn seriously. Complete your profile with a professional photo and content that is likely to appear in searches executed by your target audience. If you need help with your LinkedIn profile, schedule a review with an ACS coach.
  • If you are contacted by a search professional, be honest about your interest in the role. If you are interested and this is a professional/firm that you trust, be honest about your compensation history and expectations. If you have concerns about sharing your compensation history or are unsure of your expectations, an ACS coach can help.

* If you are interested in becoming a BlueSteps member, Darden alumni are eligible for a discount. Click here for more information.