Attracting and Working With Executive Recruiters: Actionable Tips 

If you want to join the C-suite, simply applying to executive roles is not enough. Working with executive recruiters is vital if you want to step into an organizational leadership position. We have compiled a list of tips for attracting executive recruiters so you can broaden your horizons.

At YES, we provide resume writing services, career coaching, and interview preparation solutions designed to help you make yourself a more appealing candidate for executive roles. Before you apply to executive jobs, connect with a YES career coach!


Crafting a Stellar Executive Resume

The hard truth about attracting executive recruiters is that you won’t even get onto their radar unless you have a stellar executive resume and LinkedIn profile. When crafting your executive resume, make sure to do the following:

1. Focus on Achievements

Don’t get caught up in the roles you’ve held or the titles you’ve been assigned. Instead, make your executive resume all about what you’ve achieved in your career. It should be a highlight reel of your most lofty accomplishments, hurdles you’ve overcome, and results you’ve delivered for your employer. 

2. Tailor Your Resume

Before you apply to executive jobs, make sure you tailor your resume for the role you are pursuing. Use language from the job posting that demonstrates you’ve researched the company and position. The same rule applies to your executive cover letter. Avoid generic phrasing and use custom content for every application. 

3. Keep It Concise and Relevant

Executive recruiters skim through dozens or sometimes hundreds of resumes. Make yours easy to read and relevant to the job you are aiming for. They don’t have time to read a multi-page resume.

Leveraging LinkedIn to Your Advantage

Working with executive recruiters requires a phenomenal LinkedIn profile. If you have a lackluster or incomplete LinkedIn page, you’ll struggle to gain any traction with C-suite headhunters. Here are a few factors to consider when assessing the viability of your profile. 

1. Keep Your Profile Complete and Current

First and foremost, keep your profile complete and current. Fill in any missing information, and ensure your bio and listed role reflect your current job. Also, post a professional profile picture (no selfies or smartphone photos). 

2. Highlight Your Achievements

Like your resume, your LinkedIn profile should highlight your key achievements and the impact you’ve made in your roles. Some general examples:

  • Awards you’ve received
  • Projects you’ve led
  • Professional certifications

Wherever possible, provide quantifiable data that demonstrate the value you bring to an organization. 

3. Engage With Your Network 

Regularly post, comment, and engage with your network. This increases your visibility and demonstrates your knowledge and interest in the industry. 

4. Use Keywords 

Before you can start working with executive recruiters, you’ve got to get noticed by them. Recruiters often search for candidates using specific keywords. Include industry-specific words and phrases numerous times in your profile to increase your chances of being found.

Networking with Executive Recruiters

Networking is crucial for attracting executive recruiters and piquing their interest. To garner positive attention, you can do the following:

1. Identify the Right Headhunters

Research and identify headhunters who specialize in your industry or the type of role you are seeking. Recruiting firms often have talent pools that you can apply to join. Keep an eye out for these opportunities. 

Use professional networks, such as LinkedIn, or attend industry events to get insights into who the influential headhunters are in your field. Don’t limit yourself to one recruiter or firm. Keep your options open.

2. Offer Value

When initiating contact, maintain professionalism and be succinct. Craft a message that introduces yourself, outlines your expertise, and clearly states why you are reaching out to them. This could include mentioning the following:

  • Mutual connections
  • Shared interests
  • Admiration for their work

Remember, the relationship with a headhunter should be mutual. Share industry insights or offer introductions if appropriate. They are trying to build their networks as well. 

3. Keep in Touch

Maintain a relationship with the headhunters you’ve contacted. Check in periodically with updates or to share interesting articles or insights. Better yet, asking what roles they need to fill and seeking to connect them to qualified people in your network can really nurture your relationship. 

Providing ongoing value also demonstrates your industrial knowledge and establishes yourself as a well-connected and resourceful professional. The stronger your relationship and the better you are at keeping in touch, the higher the odds that they will consider you for future roles.

Preparing for Meetings with Recruiters

Once you start working with executive recruiters, preparation is key. Make sure you …

1. Research

Research the recruiter, their firm, and any potential roles they might be recruiting for. Don’t overshare, though. Instead, convey just enough information to demonstrate that you’ve done your due diligence without sounding over-eager or desperate. They are looking for candidates with poise and C-suite-level communication skills. 

2. Articulate Your Value Proposition

Be ready to articulate your value proposition. What makes you unique, and why are you a good fit for executive roles? Whenever possible, use quantifiable data to support your talking points, such as …

  • Budgetary savings you’ve unlocked for your company
  • Percentage of efficiency improvements
  • Drops in customer churn or employee turnover

The recruiter should walk away from your meeting with confidence in your abilities. 

3. Prepare Your Pitch

Have a concise pitch ready about your background, skills, and what you’re looking for in your next role. Don’t oversell, but be clear and confident. Also, make sure you only talk about yourself when they ask about you. 

4. Ask Questions

Prepare questions about the company’s needs. This shows your interest and engagement and sets you up to be the solution to their problems. Move beyond the basics like “Can you tell me more about this role?” and go in-depth with inquiries such as “What is the temperature in the C-suite about this hiring process and what are their expectations of the new executive?” 

Questions like this show that you want to fulfill the listed job requirements while also achieving synergy with the existing leadership team. Here’s a recap of your pre-meeting checklist:

Recruiter Prep Checklist: Ask Yourself if You’ve …


Done Your Research

Developed a Value Prop

Prepared Your Pitch

Composed a Few Questions for the Recruiter


If you can confidently say “Yes!” to all of the above, you are ready to book that meeting. If not, it’s time for some interview prep!

Following Up After Meetings

Follow-up is key after meeting with a recruiter. You should do the following:

1. Send a Thank You Note

Always send a personalized thank you note after a meeting with a recruiter. This shows your appreciation and professionalism while also keeping the recruiter aware of you during the selection process. Depending on the context of your meeting, you can send a physical note or a digital one. While a physical note is the better option, digital is faster, so consider how fast the hiring process is slated to be. 

2. Keep the Recruiter in the Loop

If there are any significant updates in your career, let the recruiter know. This will keep you on their radar for future opportunities. For instance, if you complete a leadership program or attend a new conference, let them know. 

However, don’t inundate them with information just to “keep them in the loop.” Make sure that you are providing them with relevant information about your professional journey each time you contact them. 

3. Be Patient

The recruitment process for executive roles can be lengthy. Stay patient and maintain a positive attitude. Also, remember that if you haven’t heard anything for a few weeks, following up with a recruiter is perfectly acceptable. A simple email or phone call can demonstrate your interest while also keeping you top of mind.

Managing Your Expectations

When working with executive recruiters, having realistic expectations is important. You’ll need to …

1. Understand Their Role

Executive recruiters are called headhunters for a reason. They are known for their fierce, no-nonsense, and tenacious demeanors. They are not career coaches or mentors. Their client is the hiring organization, not you. Understanding this dynamic is key to effectively engaging with them.

Even if you develop a strong relationship with your recruiter, remember where their duty lies. If they pass you up for a position, don’t take it personally. Just put your head down and get back to work pursuing executive roles that align with your skill set. 

2. Solicit (and Be Open To) Feedback

One of the best things you can do when working with executive recruiters is solicit feedback. While most recruiters will provide some feedback organically, be humble and ask them to elaborate, even if the feedback is negative. 

More importantly, be receptive to what they tell you. Executive recruiters can provide objective insights into your strengths, weaknesses, and skill gaps. Use this information to make yourself a more well-rounded executive candidate. 

3. Keep Your Options Open

While working with recruiters is beneficial, continue to network and explore opportunities on your own. Don’t limit yourself to the executive roles that recruiters can connect you with. Seize emerging development opportunities no matter where they originate from.

Should You Work with Executive Recruiters?

Attracting and working with executive recruiters requires a strong personal brand, proactive networking, and professional engagement. You’ll also need a dynamic executive resume and LinkedIn profile, as well as some exceptional communication skills.

Finding executive headhunters to work with can accelerate your professional development and help you step into a rewarding executive role that aligns with your skill set. That said, remember that finding the perfect executive job may be a marathon, not a sprint. Stay persistent, professional, and, most of all, patient. 

When the opportunity to work with executive recruiters knocks, make sure you’re ready by partnering with YES! At YES, we provide interview prep, career coaching, and professional resume writing services designed to help you stand out and achieve your career goals. We also provide contact information for 13 headhunters. Explore our solutions today by booking a free Career Success Consultation.

About the Authors

Katherine Metres Akbar is the founder and president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services, one of Washington metro’s two top-rated career success companies. She and her team have helped over 5,000 people and organizations perfect their resumes, master networking, get interviews, receive offers for dream jobs, resettle employees through outplacement, and optimize their teams. Katherine is the world’s only Interview AikidoTM coach, a Certified Talent Optimization Consultant, Certified Professional Career Coach, and a Certified Professional Interview Coach. An award-winning writer, she previously served as a U.S. diplomat and executive director of a civil rights non-profit. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.

Michael Akbar is the co-owner and vice president of YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services. He is a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Federal Career Coach, Certified Business Advisor, and Certified Talent Optimization Consultant helping leaders build their dream teams. Michael leverages his business development background to help coachees get their dream job, often on the hidden job market. Michael has  spent 15 years as an entrepreneur coaching business owners to break through their barriers to success. After talking his way into two jobs in order to get a work visa, Michael was inspired to create Interview AikidoTM to help people get jobs, even when they are underqualified. He holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Master of Science from the City University of London.

The home team is completed by Farah Akbar, a joyful, stubborn, and—some say—adorable terrier/pitbull mix the Akbars adopted from the shelter after a traumatic early life.

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