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How to effectively communicate with an executive recruiter

Although you may be the one in need of a job, an executive search firm’s first priority is to its client — your potential employer. An executive search firm is contracted with companies looking for talent, not talent looking for jobs. With that in mind, does it make sense to initiate contact with an executive recruiter? “Yes, particularly if the firm represents companies in your industry,” says Sharon Hall, managing director-SpencerStuart Atlanta and the co-leader of the global diversity practice at SpencerStuart, one of the world’s largest privately held executive search firms. Hall, who is African American, outlines the ABC’s of communicating with executive search firms:

Always send a resume before you call. “It’s hard to get us on the phone. Thousands of people are getting laid off every day and they’re all calling us,” says Hall. “We want the call to be productive for you.” When possible, send your résumé via e-mail: many firms no longer accept paper résumés (for tips on preparing a plain text résumé, log on to www.thomson careers.com/ toolbox/resume .asp). Résumés should include dates and titles, measurable accomplishments for each position held, and dates for the degrees you’ve received. Objectives, if you’ve included them, should be limited to three sentences. Unless you’re including the names and positions of your references, she suggests not adding, “References provided upon request.”

Leave a short, detailed voicemail. Voice messages should be brief and to the point. Don’t use voicemail to make an introduction or to describe your job history. “I get 150 e-mails a day and 20 to 30 voicemails from job seekers. Leave a detailed voicemail stating who you are, where you work, what kind of job you’re looking for, and what stage of the job search you’re in.”

Check in every 8 to 12 weeks. Because of the economic recession, expect a long turnaround time. Forget what you’ve read about being persistent. If you’ve decided to use an executive recruiting firm, you’re on the client’s clock. “It’s not productive to call weekly to see if a job has turned up for you. Please remember that we find people for jobs; we do not find jobs for people. Only after a client calls to fill a job will we able to call and satisfy your need. After 12 weeks, you may want to call and check in.”

Become a resource. Do refer other qualified candidates. “Sometimes we’re working for several clients at once, looking hard and furiously for the right person. When [a candidate] says, ‘Hey, what are you looking for, I know three people who meet that requirement,’ I’ll remember that and will network with that person more often,” says Hall.

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