How do Recruiters Find You?

First, I need to clarify something. You do realize that recruiters (headhunters) do not beat the bushes to find you a job, right? Okay, but we also know that recruiters do look for candidates to fill in-house positions or to submit to client companies for openings at those companies. So how might those recruiters find you?

Where do recruiters look for candidates?

It depends. For example, some executive search firms have specialists who focus on sourcing high-level candidates in specific areas (functional expertise, geographic location, industry, etc.). Those specialists probably have favorite places to look to find candidates or to find out more about candidates they’ve already identified. Much of recruiter searching undoubtedly takes placing using online resources, such as LinkedIn.

The smart move is to make yourself appropriately visible online, particularly in relation to places where recruiters might expect to find someone like you. As an example, if you’re a CFO, you should probably be actively involved in online activities, groups, etc., that focus on CFO-type issues and resources. Those might include places such as Financial Executives International (FEI),, and the CFO Roundtable–and, of course, LinkedIn’s CFO Network.

How can you increase your visibility to recruiters?

Besides the suggestions already mentioned–or as an expansion of those–you might want to consider membership-based resources such as Execunet and BlueSteps. Execunet offers membership options ranging from one month at $39 to one year at $399. BlueSteps is owned by the Association of Executive Search Consultants, who have access to the resumes that BlueSteps members upload to the website. Its one-time membership fee is about $330; that includes the recruiter search visibility that might make it a worthwhile investment. Access to BlueSteps’ Premium services–including information about career opportunities–requires an annual investment, which I believe is about $89.

A recent BlueSteps blog post involving an interview with a UK-based recruiter provides some insights on how search professionals find potential candidates on the BlueSteps website. Titled “How Do Search Professionals Find You in BlueSteps? Oxana Brookes on How it Works,” it mentions that “a candidate’s CV needs to be crisp, not too long, well-structured and contain basic data points (the size of business in terms of turnover, number of people, etc.) to help us judge whether the candidate falls into the right category….We are more likely to approach candidates who are seen as thought leaders in their sector, so speaking at industrial [industry] events, publishing written work and gaining leadership positions with corresponding industrial bodies will be a good move to becoming visible.”

Of course, that’s only one recruiter’s take on the situation, but it might be worth considering if you’re hoping to work with (through) recruiters at some point.

What if I’m not a senior manager or executive?

In that case, executive search professionals won’t be looking for you, but others could be. The points mentioned above might still be relevant, in one way or another.

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