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How to Become an Executive Recruiter

by | Apr 19, 2021 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Are you thinking about becoming an executive recruiter? Executive recruiting is a great profession, and it might be a good fit for you.

Learn what an executive recruiter does. And, find out how to become an executive recruiter.

What is an executive recruiter?

Executive recruiters focus on filling executive, high-level positions at companies. They are often brought in for the toughest candidate searches. Headhunters might recruit for a specific industry, or they might recruit for multiple industries.

Executive recruiters can work by themselves. Or, they can work for recruiting firms.

An executive recruiter normally works on a contingency recruiting agreement, which means the client pays the recruiter to retain their services. The retainer fee ensures the recruiter has a job and the business promises to use their services. The recruiter also benefits from the fee because it can take a long time to fill an executive position—maybe even up to a year.

What does an executive recruiter do?

An executive recruiter finds candidates to fill open executive positions. But, there’s more to being an executive recruiter than finding candidates.

If you become a headhunter, you have to find clients. Clients are how you will get paid after all. Making clients happy and finding passive candidates is your job. Your job is not to find jobs for people, but to fill positions for your client.

You will be involved in the hiring process. You might help with interviewing, setting up appointments, conducting market research, negotiating salaries, onboarding, and providing client consultations.

Executive recruiters are expected to stay current in their field. You need to keep up with recruiting trends. And, if you recruit for a specific industry, you must follow industry news.

How much do executive recruiters make?

Executive recruiters have the potential to earn a lot of money. The high recruitment fees are why some people are attracted to the profession.

The median annual salary is $89,717. There is no cap on earnings, so some headhunters can earn six-figure salaries per year.

Earning this much takes time. Don’t expect to earn a six-figure salary when you first become an executive recruiter. As you gain experience and get better at making placements, your earnings should increase.

What skills do executive recruiters need?

A successful career in executive search is easier if you have certain skills.

  • Communication: You must effectively communicate verbally and in writing. You will frequently correspond with clients and candidates.
  • Phone manner: As a recruiter, you will be on the phone a lot, so you must be comfortable with this method of communication. You must also be comfortable with cold call recruiting.
  • Sales: Recruiters are essentially salespeople. You have to sell your services to clients, and you have to convince candidates to take jobs.
  • Networking: Recruiters must constantly search for new contacts. You must be comfortable with face-to-face networking and reaching out to new people.
  • Negotiation skills: You are the mediator between the client and the candidate. It’s your job to make both sides happy.
  • Patience: Finding a suitable candidate can take a while. You need to be able to stick the job out.
  • Empathy: You need to understand what your client and candidate are going through. You must help both sides feel like they are benefiting from the arrangement.

How to become an executive recruiter

You’ve decided to begin working in executive search. So, how do you become an executive recruiter?

You do not need a specific degree to become a recruiter. Although, an industry-specific degree and knowledge can help if you plan to recruit for a niche.

You can start your own business. However, you might not get any clients or candidates for a while because you lack experience.

It might be better for you to find a mentor who is an established executive recruiter. If you can, get a job at an existing recruiting firm. You can learn the trade and gain experience under the supervision of experts.

You will need to do a lot of networking. You must build your contacts of clients and candidates. Use a system, such as a recruiting CRM, to record and organize your new contacts. You can also network with other recruiters. You might be able to work with another recruiter to make split placements.

You can use your experience from your previous job to help you succeed as a recruiter. For example, if you previously worked in the hospitality industry, you can use your knowledge and experience to find and place candidates for the hospitality industry.

Don’t expect to get senior level and C-suite level jobs when you first start. Until you gain experience, you will likely work on placements for lower-level managers. As your skills and knowledge grow, so will your jobs and income.

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