Job Searching? Here’s How to Successfully Work with an Executive Recruiter

For Candidates

proactive recruiting strategies

Executive recruiters are professional matchmakers who represent candidates throughout the entire process – from the initial phone screening to negotiating a job offer. While employers have the final say on who they hire, recruiters can advocate for their candidates in every step of the process, which can influence the hiring decision. Whether you are an active jobseeker, or a seasoned employee open to considering new opportunities, here’s how to maintain a successful relationship with a recruiter based on our search firm’s experiences.  


Tip #1: Don’t apply directly to the employer if a third-party recruiter introduced their job opening first.  

Picture this — a recruiter contacts an executive who’s a great fit for one of their searches. Instead of replying to the recruiter, they submit their application through the employer’s website. After the applicant has their first interview, the hiring authority excitedly mentions to their recruiter that they are actively considering someone who applied organically – only to discover that it was the same person who the recruiter contacted. 

Unfortunately, similar variations of this scenario have happened to our firm, which led to uncomfortable conversations with candidates and clients to determine if they were prompted to apply directly due to our outreach. And when we ask a candidate about it, one of two things typically happens: they plead ignorance since it’s their first time working with a recruiter, or they ghost us altogether. While some professionals who bypass a recruiter may have done so with no ill intent, other jobseekers believe they have a better chance of landing a role if they take matters into their own hands.  

Intentionally going around a recruiter can burn bridges, especially if the recruiter is the reason why an executive learned about the open position in the first place. Of course, a candidate who already applied to a job opening before a recruiter reached out is an entirely different case, and they should simply inform the recruiter to avoid any misunderstanding. 


Tip #2: Understand a recruiter’s specialties before contacting them.  

If a jobseeker wants to introduce themselves to a new recruiter, they should research their organization or LinkedIn to verify they are the best contact for their needs. Each search firm is unique and may not specialize in the verticals a jobseeker is looking for. To maximize effort, a candidate should focus on forming professional relationships with recruiters who align with the targeted industry or field to increase chances of being represented.  


Tip #3: Keep a recruiter updated while participating in the hiring process.  

We always have smooth experiences with candidates who keep us in the loop from their side from start to finish. Hearing from an applicant every step of the way helps us have a better understanding of their progress, experience, and thoughts, and gives the recruiter a better grasp of where each party stands throughout the process, improving the entire search. 

If an executive starts to have second thoughts about continuing in the hiring process, has another offer lined up, or has hesitations about relocating, they should let the recruiter know right away. We help candidates walk through any reservations to determine if the reason is due to nervousness or truly feeling that the role isn’t an overall fit for one reason or another. We want to represent candidates who genuinely want the job, so the more transparent and communicative a candidate is, the better we can assist. For those where a role is determined not the best fit, we will have a better understanding of what they are looking for so when we do get the right search, they will be top of mind. 

Once an offer has been presented, executives should also use their recruiter for insights and expertise during the negotiation stage. There have been times when candidates end up making a counteroffer directly to our client without advising us first, which has led to offending the employer. Recruiters want to ensure that both parties are respectful to one another. While we help the client make sure they’re crafting a compelling offer for their potential new hire, we also want the candidate to get as close to what they desire without ruffling any feathers.  


Tip #4: Treat a recruiter as a hiring authority.  

Kindness, patience, and understanding go a long way. We act as the direct link between our clients and candidates. If a job seeker only puts their best foot forward to a select few during the hiring process, it can essentially make or break whether they receive a job offer. Of course, all employers want to fill their openings, but even if someone has the best qualifications, these days company culture and values are even more scrutinized during the hiring process. 


Working with executive recruiters can be extremely advantageous regardless of employment status. Even if an executive is employed and comfortable in their current company, there is always the possibility of a better opportunity that can change the course of one’s career or even their livelihood. So, the next time you find yourself working closely with an executive recruiter, follow these tips to build a positive, worthwhile, and lasting connection.


As Published in Gaming & Leisure Spring 2024 Edition

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 55 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facility and Concession; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Healthcare; Hotel and Resort; Nonprofit; Restaurant and Foodservice; and Travel, Tourism, and Attraction industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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