Executive Recruiters

What is the role of executive recruiters? Executive recruiters are those who focus on identifying candidates and hiring them to fill positions in the companies.

Executive recruiters - Everything you should know about

To build a competitive human capital for an organization, recruiters want to hire the best candidates on time and within budget. However, recruitment is a nuanced process that demands extensive research and thorough procedures to churn out high-quality hires with regularity.  

At its core, the concept is rather simple - identifying candidates and hiring them to fill vacancies. But, effective recruiting needs to implement repeatable processes that will lead to reliable results and sophistication to think outside the box to spot the perfect candidate.

When an organization hires a recruiting firm to fill an open position, they pay an upfront fee. The firm is accountable for finding candidates until the position is filled, and the organization cannot hire multiple recruiting firms to fill the same position. Contingency recruiting firms receive payment only when an organization hires the clients they stand for, and many firms may work on the hunt simultaneously for an organization.

What is executive recruitment?

It is a well-regulated effort made by an organization to find the right candidates to fill roles within senior executive positions of the organization. It can be tackled by an internal recruitment team of the organization itself, or an external executive recruitment firm, or an independent executive recruiter.

Managing an internal executive recruitment team lowers the cost of the executive recruitment process. It also ensures the right candidate for the vacancy as the recruiters are well versed in company culture and values. In addition, hiring an external executive recruitment firm allows organizations to connect to many professional networks of potential candidates without searching and maintaining those networks themselves.

What is an executive recruiter?  

An executive recruiter is a recruiting professional who finds candidates for filling organizations executive positions, such as senior managers, directors, and high-level corporate officers. They are focused on filling high-level management positions only. Companies or candidates can hire these executives recruiters for their services.

Executive recruiters specialize in recruiting executives, high-level positions at companies, and an extensive list of contacts and potential candidates. They can work independently or for recruiting firms and are often fetched in for the toughest candidate searches. Executive recruiters might recruit for a particular industry or diverse industries and have rigorous command of the field they recruit in. They can work by themselves or for recruiting firms.

Executive recruiters usually work on a contingency recruiting agreement, where the client pays retainer fees to the executive recruiters to keep their services. This retainer fee guarantees that the executive recruiter has a job and promises to use its services. Thus, the recruiters get benefitted from the retainer fees as long as the executive position is vacant.

Process of executive recruitment

Recruiters always watch to erect networks of robust candidates for future roles and maintain long-term relationships with them. Executive recruiters are a superb source of market intelligence. Filling an executive position involves intricate requirements, where leadership, skills, vision, and cultural fit are critical keys. So it’s not surprising that the field has evolved various specializations and niches. 

Organizations without in-house recruiting teams turn to retained executive recruiters to fill leadership role vacancies. To fill line vacancies, they often hire contingent recruiters to furnish more available candidates. The recruitment process also involves persuading the right candidates to leave their present jobs to the client organization.

A successful executive recruiter needs to works on the following lines:  

  • Make a detailed list of client requirements for the open position.
  • Do proper research and identification of prospective candidates.
  • Performing screening interviews before candidates’ handover to the client.

Apart from identifying the suitable candidates for the open position, executive recruiters offer a variety of value-added and downstream services, such as market research, interview set-up, salary negotiation, candidate consultation, legal advice, onboarding, providing client consultations, and tenure and performance modeling. So, the marketplace for executive recruiting firms is too specialized.

Executive Recruiting Best Practices

To stay ahead in the competition, executive recruiters need to use recruiting industry’s best practices to stay ahead of the competition. Along with the latest recruiting tactics, they need to have a high level of professionalism to get the perfect candidates for executive positions. Here we have recommended some best practices which may help executive recruiters to get ahead of their competitors and perform well in the marketplace.  

Making use of technology

In the highly competitive world of recruiting, executive recruiters need to keep a pulse on the latest technology trends of sourcing and screening candidates. In addition, executives and recruiters need to understand how to use complex business software to accomplish their objectives and get recruitment jobs done. For example, recruiters can use the latest technology like candidate sourcing tools, performance management, or customer relationship management software to track candidate information and marketing strategies and help other recruiting tasks. In addition, these days, much-recruiting management software specifically designed to screen candidates is available in the market.

Keeping accurate records  

It is highly significant for executive recruiters to keep complete and detailed records of the talent pool, applicant’s details, contact details of candidates and clients, and marketing and development efforts.

Growing your network

A recruiter needs to have an extensive network of business contacts of prospects, clients and hires and should always strengthen the existing relationships through consistent communication and constantly looking out to build new contacts and relationships. Recruiters should always hang on to every contact and ask for referrals to grow their network. Even if a specific contact is not the best fit for one position, they could be ideal for the next one.

Become one with your industry

Executive recruiters must no longer be simple service providers. Instead, they should focus on becoming the most respected and leading resources to their industry. In addition, they should always stay updated in their respective field with the industry news and updates.

You must be particularly interested in recruitment and keen to build strong connections and relationships in the industry. Not just sourcing resources, but executive recruiters require to grow as the most trusted professional leaders to both candidates and clients.

Connecting with a recruiter

Executive recruiters are often directly involved in the entire hiring process. They are involved in the entire recruitment process, right from selecting and presenting candidates to client companies and conducting interviews until joining the successful candidate.

And for all this, an executive recruiter needs to burgeoning existing relationships and keeping an eye out for new viable relationships. Strengthening the network through referrals is very significant and could pay off in the long run.

  • Referrals work best in the recruiting industry. Executive recruiters focus only on specific searches and usually don’t respond to unrelated inquiries.
  • Executive recruiters are always in search of candidates with a proven track record in the field. So try to build and grow your professional reputation.
  • To connect to the recruiters, you can visit the recruiter’s official website and fill out your job profile to become part of their employment database. Here you can also specify your job preferences like relocation to any particular area.
  • LinkedIn is the best and most effective networking source for finding jobs. Recruiters are very active on LinkedIn for recruitments. So it is highly recommended to always keep your professional LinkedIn profile updated at all times, with any new information and achievements such as certifications and degrees. It will facilitate recruiters to reach you. You should consistently update your profile.
  • Recruiters use various industry events for networking purposes. At such events, they scan attendee lists into their databases. To attend industry events to build connections with the executive recruiters.

Three things job seekers need to know about executive recruiters

  1. Executive recruiters work for their clients, i.e., the hiring organizations. As a candidate, remember that a recruitment firm works for their client to deliver the very best talent to fill the open position for a company’s particular management role.
  2. Executive recruiter, internal recruiters, or contingency recruiter - they are not all the same. So, before starting a conversation with a recruiter, get clarification if they are working for the organization or from executive recruitment. If they are from an executive recruitment company, try to understand whether they are from a retained or a contingent recruiting firm.
  3. Make sure to connect only with legitimate executive recruiters working exclusively for their clients. This will ensure that your confidential information is in safe hands and is disclosed only to the hiring organization.

The open executive job is usually not advertised on job boards. So, you need to be visible to be considered for such opportunities. Therefore, you also need to build and maintain relationships with executive recruiters. Before reaching out to an executive recruiter, make sure to look for the specific areas of specialization for each recruiter and the best match with your background.

How much do executive recruiters make?

The earning potential for executive recruiters is too high, and there is no cap on earnings. Some executive recruiters can earn up to six-figure salaries per year. The average Executive Recruiter salary in the US is $99,571 as of June 28, 2021. The average salary range is between $83,844 and $116,917.

The salary range of an executive recruiter varies widely. It depends on several factors, like education, certifications, experience in the profession. Earnings increase with the gaining experience and increasing contacts and relationships. While working with retained executive recruiters, it’s vital to understand the recruitment fee schedule. 

Usually, there are two options of paying the recruitment fee. In the first option, there is a fixed fee confirmed when signing the agreement with the retained executive recruitment firm. Then, ⅓ of the amount is paid upon beginning the search for the candidate, another ⅓ amount is paid 30 days after the first installment, and the final ⅓ amount is usually paid after the final placement of the executive.

What skills do executive recruiters need?

To be a successful executive recruiter, you need to have certain skills:

  • IT Skills: With the latest technology to ease the daily needs of recruiters, an executive recruiter must have good IT knowledge. It is significant to know about platforms usually used by candidates to apply for jobs, for example, LinkedIn, Facebook.
  • Networking: An executive recruiter is always in search of new contacts and building relationships. So it's good to be comfortable reaching out to new people, staying in touch, and asking for referrals.
  • Communication: An executive recruiter needs to stay in contact and frequently correspond with clients and candidates. So it's good to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Correct communication with candidates showing equal respect for successful and unsuccessful candidates is very important.
  • Negotiation skills: An executive recruiter acts as the mediator between the organization and the candidate. So good to have excellent negotiation skills.
  • Phone manner: A recruiter must be comfortable while communicating on the phone, as most of the communication happens on the phone itself.
  • Sales: A recruiter has to sell services to clients and convince candidates to switch and take a new job. So it is always good to have good salesman skills.
  • Patience: As an executive recruiter, patience and flexibility go hand in hand. The whole recruitment process can take a while.
  • Listening skills: For an executive recruiter, having good listening skills is an essential trait. Listening to clients about role requirements or to applicants about their preferences will result in better sourcing tactics.

How to become an executive recruiter?

To be an executive recruiter, no specific qualification is required. Instead, with industry-specific expertise and knowledge, one can plan to recruit for a specific niche. However, initially, an executive recruiter may struggle to build contacts and relationships with the clients and candidates due to a lack of experience.

First, one can get a job at an existing recruiting firm and find an established executive recruiter as a mentor. It can be a good opportunity for a beginner to gain experience under the supervision of recruitment experts.

Moving forward, an executive recruiter needs to do a lot of networking and build connections and relationships with clients and candidates. Networking with other recruiters in the same niche is also a good idea. An executive recruiter can become specialized in a specific niche market and a specific geographical region or city. Some may have a global focus and recruit candidates from all around the globe.

Initially, executive recruiters work on placements for lower-level managers. With the gain in experience, skills, and knowledge, jobs and income also grow.


Searches for company executives are often conducted at a level that requires executive recruiters to have an extensive network of relationships and connections that have been erected and cultivated over many years. As a result, an executive recruiter very well understands the needs and demands of senior executive positions. As a result, they can efficiently use their network to recruit the best candidates, regardless of their current employment.

Dealing exclusively with an executive recruiter firm for the organization’s top-level executive vacancies, the client often grows more meaningful working relationships with the recruiter and gets a higher level of service. Also, there is an ideal understanding, communication, and working relationship between the two, making future executive searches more manageable.  

While searching for the best executive recruiter firm, do your research and explore all the available options. Be careful to consider recommendations. Ensure the executive recruiter firm you proceed with is the right fit in terms of industry, location, and available price alternates.

Wishing you happy hiring!

About the author

has been working as a web developer and in online marketing since 1998. After building up a marketing agency and the exit in 2013, he consulted international groups as a freelance consultant. Since 2022, he and his team now offer staffing services in this field.

Dennis Hoinkis CEO, GLOMASTCO Ltd.

Are you looking for a job?

Here you can find job offers for agencies, freelancers and employees as well as temporary workers. Look now for your chance to improve yourself