Richard Lipstein
Partner, USA

While the majority of jobs are found directly through networking, developing and maintaining relationships with executive search firms and recruiters remains an integral part of managing a career.

What I hope to accomplish here is to describe how best you can work with these professionals to successfully accomplish both your job search and career management strategy.

Recruiters have wide and broad access to the market and compensation information, trends, tips and connections in addition to specific jobs.

There are two types of executive recruiters – those who work on contingency and those who do so on retainer also known as retained search consultants. A contingency recruiter earns a fee only when the client hires someone they have introduced.  A retained search consultant, on the other hand, is paid in advance to conduct a search.

There is a vast difference in methodology between contingency and retained recruiters.  The search consultant typically has an exclusive arrangement with the client to fill the position and takes a longer time to complete the placement using a more detailed process and methodology.

The contingency recruiter will work the process a lot quicker and most probably deliver more candidates to increase the odds of making a placement.  They can introduce a candidate to numerous clients at the same time while a search consultant can only introduce a candidate to their retained client during the course of a specific search.

Although the best recruiters will provide considerable support to those with whom they are working, whether retained or contingency, remember that both types of recruiters work for the client not the candidate.

A retained recruiter is more likely than a contingency recruiter to have the following:

Contingency recruiters can be very effective in some circumstances, of course, particularly when the position is at a lower seniority and compensation level. Retained search consultants, on the other hand, tend to work on more senior and higher paid positions.

Both types of recruiters look for the most appropriate candidates with a background that closely fits the needs of a particular search assignment so someone looking to change careers or move laterally would likely not be appropriate during a particular assignment.

Tips for working with recruiters:

Make it easy for recruiters to find you by doing the following:

When a recruiter calls, ask key questions (remember, you should interview the recruiter too!) such as, among others, how well do they know the client, the depth of their relationship with the company and their experience filling similar positions.

Be honest, responsive and courteous (let the recruiter know of issues and who else will be involved in the decision, for instance) and never continue the process if you are not interested in the position (as opposed to seeing how far along you will go in that process).

Be decisive – before an offer comes, be prepared to accept or decline. 

Trust the recruiter particularly as it relates to managing the interview process and how you compare to other candidates under consideration. Be decisive – once again, before an offer comes, be prepared to accept or decline.  If the process continues past your point of interest it will damage your relationship with the recruiter as well as their relationship with client. Finally, let the recruiter negotiate the compensation package if necessary.

The most important thing I can recommend for those who want to develop and maintain long-term relationships with specific recruiters is keep in regular touch with them after you’ve landed the job and serve as a source on other searches.

Recruiters will love you if you help them on other searches and will be very beneficial to the success of your career!

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