How to Work With Retained Executive Search Consultants

BlueSteps recently released a guide on retained executive search to all our members, featuring advice on how to best work with search consultants and how to develop your network to include relevant executive recruiters. Read on for our expert advice, and a selection of our top tips:

Retained executive search consulting is a specialized form of management consulting. A hiring organization would retain an executive search firm to help them find a new senior level employee – for example, a CEO, CFO, VP, etc. The typical salary for a position handled by a retained executive search firm is at least $100,000 (or regional equivalent), but more likely $250,000 (or regional equivalent) and above.

Networking with Executive Search Consultants

The search firm brings their industry-specific expertise and unique insight to the organization’s leadership needs, assessing the organization and the role, reviewing the organization’s internal bench strength (including possible internal executive candidates for the role) and surveying the broader market in pursuit of the best candidate for the job.

The most critical thing to remember is that a retained search firm does not represent the individual executive – at least not until they are a serious contender for the position - but instead works for the hiring organization to locate the best possible individual for a particular role.

It is of vital importance to be “on the radar screen” of retained executive search professionals so you aren’t overlooked for possible career opportunities. As an example, members of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), who own and operate BlueSteps, handle over 50,000 senior level opportunities each year that are typically not advertised or made public. It may take some time in your career before you are of serious interest to a retained executive search consultant, but you should start to build relationships with these professionals early on in your career, and nurture these critical members of your network.

How to develop your network to include retained executive search consultants:

  • Send a personal email to a select number of search consultants that specialize in your industry, function and region.
  • Attach an up-to-date copy of your resume/CV in a widely accepted format such as Word or PDF.
  • Include 4-5 bullet points that outline what function, industry and region you are looking at, and any specific key career achievements that they would be interested in.
  • Let the consultant know what you can do to help THEM - networking is a two way street.
  • Offer yourself as a “source” to the consultant – noting that you are well connected in your industry and could assist them with any searches they are working on.

The full guide “How To Work With Retained Executive Search Consultants” is available to all BlueSteps members with the BlueSteps Career Channel. For more career advice and industry information, and details on how to become a BlueSteps member, visit BlueSteps.com.

The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Connecting with Executive Search

As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to:
- Learn about executive search and how it differs from other forms of recruiting
- Discover the best ways to connect with executive search professionals
- Understand how the search process works
- Implement strategies that will help you become visible to the search community
- And more!

Download Now!

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About BlueSteps

BlueSteps empowers executives to reach their career goals with strategic career planning.


At BlueSteps, we thoughtfully create career management solutions that are designed to help leaders advance their careers, stay on track to build a long-term career playbook, and become a strong leader. Our tools and resources will help you:
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