How Do Executive Search Firms Find Candidates?

executive search firms

Recruiters for executive search firms may occasionally turn to job fairs and job boards to find talent, but usually they have more sophisticated and creative methods of identifying and screening virtuosos in any field.  Here are several ways they establish a talent pool.

executive search firms

What you think of executives in a lot of places.

1. Personal Network

Executive recruiters are active relationship builders. They spend years creating branches of their professional networks, establishing steady and meaningful contact with acquaintances, friends, university alumni and industry influencers who at any time might be the perfect candidate for a job opening.  By networking themselves, job seekers raise their chances of coming into contact with associates of a recruiter.

2. Referrals

People in the recruiter’s network also become confidantes who can recommend individuals who might be right for job openings and provide first-hand insight about them. Typically, a recruiter will ask a trusted person for commentary about a particular job candidate or help in setting up meetings with first-rate prospects.

3. LinkedIn Recruiters

Still unknown to many job seekers, the Recruiter section of LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions program has been a major hit with executive recruiters. Providing a space to create individual “recruiting projects,” the fee-based Recruiter portal has custom homepages designed to make it easy for headhunters to search the full profiles of prospects without having their viewing habits reported to LinkedIn users, make notations about prospects, send messages, collect responses, and store reports in one place.

Job seekers should refine and expand their LinkedIn presence since they never know who is studying them for a staffing project. They should also make a point to join groups and regularly check their InMail.

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4. Other Online Social Platforms

Recruiters scour all types of blogs, social media websites and forums that cater to specific professional niches. They also regularly track trending industry topics on places like Twitter and Facebook, noting professionals that provide expertise, unique ideas and engaging discussion. Anyone actively or passively looking for a career opportunity should participate in professional communities and online industry conversations. Comment with care and professionalism.

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5. Professional Organizations

Recruiters frequent the conference circuit, taking note of dynamic speakers and panelists headlining events for membership associations in industries that match their specialized recruiting areas. They also hobnob with associates or volunteers in audiences after presentations, at lunch or at after-hours social gatherings.  Generally, all attendees come well stocked with business cards they can exchange with recruiters after a conversation.  Job seekers should attend as many professional conferences as they can and assume active roles.

6. Boolean Search

Boolean search

This is an example of how boolean search works. WARNING – Do not hire your executives on the query of beards.

Recruiters flock to Google and use a few search tricks to find professionals in the right location, with the right certifications and endorsements. For example, using “intitle: resume and [keywords],” a recruiter can search the Internet for webpages that have the word “resume” in the title and includes keywords related to a specific location, a specific professional license, degree, etc.  Professionals hoping to catch the eye of executive recruiters should make sure their resumes are optimized for searches by including keywords organically throughout the resume, as well as in a special section at the bottom of the resume where a list of keywords can be itemized. Introduce that section with a note that explains the area is designated specifically for search engine indexing.

7. The News

When reading any industry media source or watching industry news, executive recruiters always have their antennae up for professionals lauded in features, Power 100 or Top 10 lists, or the professional announcements section.

8. Social Recruiting Apps

Unlike social media where people chat about anything, social recruiting sites and applications are made exclusively for recruiting. They include TalentBin, which identifies every employee in a company and allows recruiters to gather their resumes and search for prospects, and SwoopTalent, which provides an automated search for recruiters to find and track job candidates across the entire web.

These resources ensure that executive headhunters stay aware of the very best talent and simplify the process of assessing and contacting them.

About Author – David Allocco is a seasoned business development and operations executive with experience in entrepreneurial environments. PierceGray is a retained executive search firm serving corporations around the world. Our primary practice areas are procurement, supply chain, and operations leadership.

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