Somewhere along the way, the word executive was dropped from our
collective identity and we became, simply, recruiters.
This makes me sad. Theres something about the term executive recruiter
that defines our place in the world, and immediately sets us apart from
our first cousins, recruiters who advocate for the military or for
Great point on the word executive, we still use it as a keyword in our
Besides, Im rather fond of a job title that implies a professional
association with the rich and powerful. Chief executive officer.
President. General manager. Hey, thats the crowd I run with! The movers
and shakers of business, finance and government.
Reality is different, of course. Recruiters fill all sorts of positions,
regardless of how highly theyre positioned on an org chart. In the big
scheme of things, talent is talent, and as long as theres a company with
a critical problemand the inability to find the right person to solve
itwere the go-to guys.
The Real Meaning of the Word
Of course, theres more to being an executive than flashing a business
card with a fancy title. And there's more to being an executive recruiter
than simply rubbing elbows with the people who do.
Effective leadership starts with a core competency in the subject
matter. For example, if youre the captain of a ship, it's awfully
difficult to navigate through a storm if you know nothing about engines
or rudders, or you never learned how to read a nautical map. There are
plenty of examples of failed leaders who took command without a strong
base of knowledge or a pattern of successful management to build on.
That's why it's so important for recruiters to master the basics, like how
to make a strong sales presentation or simplify a convoluted job
description or string together the right keywords to locate a passive
candidate online. All of these skills require knowledge, training and
experience to reach a point of fluency.
What elevates a recruiter to the level of an executive requires a
completely different set of skills: The ability to bring people
together, anticipate and overcome obstacles and provide solutions These
are the elusive qualities that define good recruiters.
Learning to apply them can be painful but the rewards are great. that
make everyone feel good about the outcome. Or, to put it more
succinctly, a true executive is a leader who makes good decisions.
Are What You Train For
Whenever I'm asked to provide training, mentoring
or coaching, my first task is to diagnose the individuals or the
companys weakness or problem. Is the issue they're confronting related to
a basic, functional skill? Or to executive ability?
If the root cause is
functional, then fundamental or remedial training is advised.
Fortunately, there are plenty of materials and role-playing techniques
to help improve a recruiters core competencies.
But very often, the key to top performance is turned at a level that
reaches beyond the mechanics. It's when you successfully resolve a
complex offer negotiation or read between the lines of an ambiguous
reference check or identify a potential conflict of interest that your
executive skills are tested and honed.
And that's the point at which the words executive and recruiter begin to
fit our job description in equal measure. And it probably explains why
so many peopleboth inside and outside our fieldare reluctant to put the
words "executive" and "recruiter" side by side