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Executive Search Recruiter Job Description, Career as an Executive Search Recruiter, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median—$70,192 per year

Employment Outlook: Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

When companies want to fill a senior management position, they often use the services of an executive search firm. The job of the executive search recruiters who work for these firms is to fill high-level positions with the most suitable people available.

A company will provide an executive search recruiter with a complete description of the job and the skills needed to fill an executive vacancy. A recruiter who is not familiar with a particular company may visit its offices to learn more about it. The recruiter may spend many hours with the client discussing the job and offering advice on the company's employment needs.

The recruiter then begins a search for suitable candidates. This is done by checking the computer files of the executive search firm for resumes of people who are already known to the firm or recruiter. The people who most closely match the client's requirements are then contacted about the position.

If recruiters are unable to find qualified candidates from these files, they may try to identify and investigate people working in similar positions in other companies. The recruiter approaches these people and tries to interest them in moving to the client company. For this reason, executive recruiters are sometimes called "headhunters."

The first contact with potential candidates is usually made over the telephone. If the candidates show interest in the position, the recruiter arranges an interview. After the recruiter has interviewed several candidates, he or she gives the client written reports on them. The client company may then interview the selected candidates directly.

If a candidate is selected and accepts the position, the search is complete. If the client is not satisfied or the candidate is not interested in the position, the recruiter must begin the search again. Although executive recruiters can sometimes fill positions quickly, it often takes months to conclude a successful search.

Executive search firms are paid for each position that they fill. The client pays part of the fee as a retainer. Once a retainer has been accepted, the search firm is obligated to fill the position. The rest of the fee may be paid to the search firm when the job has been filled or as the search progresses.

An executive search recruiter spends a lot of time on the telephone talking to clients about high-level jobs they need to fill and contacting prospective employees. (Photograph by Kelly A. Quin. Thomson Gale. Reproduced by permission.)

Education and Training Requirements

A college degree and a familiarity with the business world is usually required to get a job at a recruiting agency. Personal qualities are more important than formal education. Recruiters come from varied backgrounds. Many recruiters have experience in some business specialty or in general management. Some have experience in sales and marketing.

Recruiters must be very good at dealing with people. They must be comfortable spending a lot of time talking on the telephone. Recruiters often speak to people they do not know and who may not want to talk with them. They have to get their point across quickly and persuasively. They may have to approach many candidates before a position is filled, so recruiters must have a lot of patience. Discretion is a very important personal quality, as recruiters often deal with confidential information about clients and candidates.

Getting the Job

Because many recruiters have experience in other areas before joining executive search firms, entry-level positions are not easy to find. The best way to find a job in this area is to approach executive search firms directly. Classified ads in newspapers and trade journals and Internet job banks are sometimes other sources of jobs.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

In an executive recruiting firm, advancement comes in the form of earnings rather than position. As recruiters gain experience, they may be assigned to searches for more senior executives. These positions command higher salaries, and recruiters receive larger fees. They may also gain recognition by bringing new business into the firm. Some recruiters advance to supervisory positions or become partners in a firm. Some experienced recruiters start their own executive search firms.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of employment placement professionals of all kinds was expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Mergers and growth in financial service companies are creating positions for top executives and managers. Financial companies are turning to executive search recruiters to fill these positions.

Working Conditions

The success of executive search firms depends on the impression they make on their clients and prospective candidates. They often fill positions that command very high salaries. Executive recruiters work in pleasant surroundings. They have big, modern offices. In large firms the recruiters have secretaries and assistants to help them with their work.

A large percentage of a recruiter's time is spent talking with people. Much of this time is spent on the telephone with client companies and candidates. Travel time may be necessary to visit clients' offices and learn about their operations. Recruiters also spend much time interviewing candidates. They often need to travel to conduct interviews and follow-up meetings.

Earnings and Benefits

Executive search recruiters are usually paid according to the number of positions that they fill. The recruiting firm usually receives a percentage of the annual salary and benefits package paid to the selected candidate. The recruiter will receive part of this sum.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of Executive Search Consultants
12 E. 41st St.
New York, NY 10017
(212) 398-9556

Earnings vary widely according to the salary and the number of placements made. According to salary.com, the median annual salary for an executive recruiter in 2006 was $70,192. Benefits often include paid vacations and holidays, health and life insurance, and a retirement plan.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHuman Resources