The Single-Easiest Way to Find & Outreach to Executive Recruiters

The Single-Easiest Way to Find & Outreach to Executive Recruiters

Even though the Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM) reports that among HR Managers, 73% leverage LinkedIn as their most effective recruiting tool with only 66% claiming Facebook and 53% claiming Twitter as their preferred social media tool, a majority of senior-level job hunters will emphasize online job search as a primary tool. Although job boards typically yield interviews only about 15% to 20% of the time (compared to networking, which, when done correctly, yields interviews about 85% of the time), they’re still a favorite job search strategy for many.

What you may not know is that there are five different kinds of job boards.

  1. Metaboards like or don’t specialize in any particular job functions, industries, or geographic areas and thus cover a wide array of professions. LinkedIn isn’t a job board, but they do import job postings from SimplyHired.
  2. Geographic boards focus on serving specific cities, states, countries, or regions.
  3. Niche boards focus on serving specific job functions or industries such as sales or IT professionals or positions within not-for-profit organizations.
  4. International boards showcase jobs located in other countries or with organizations that have an international focus such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
  5. Executive job boards serve a subset of professionals looking for work in director to C-suite roles or those seeking board or Board Director positions.

Executive Job Boards

For these executive job seekers who want to make job boards a key part of their job hunt, I generally recommend using an executive job board such as or (Note that I do not recommend using, given their history of posting non-existent jobs and recommending resume services to candidates who don’t need them.)

Execunet is the lower-cost option of the two and hosts local face-to-face networking meetings for senior executives in many cities throughout the U.S. If you’re open to face-to-face networking, this is an option you might want to explore. Note that these networking events aren’t open to non-executives and are more powerful than job fairs or LinkedIn networking events.

BlueSteps, on the other hand, offers a very different collection of benefits for executive job hunters to compensate for the higher cost of their membership. Owned and operated by the Association of Executive Search Consultants, AESC has more than 16K recruiter members who place executives into $100K+ roles in more than 70 countries, including C-suite, board, director, and multi-industry positions. BlueSteps has more than 120K members representing 75+ countries.

One of the most valuable features of a BlueSteps membership is their built-in recruiter database. Searchable by industry, function, and geography, their database is global in scope and includes a message builder to help you reach out to recruiters proactively. Because the site gives you a discreet online profile to which you can attach your resume, you can also be sought out by member recruiters when they search the AESC candidate database, which means you have three ways to be visible to recruiters: via a recruiter search, via direct candidate messaging, and via online applications for open jobs.

Without access to a recruiter database like the one at BlueSteps, you’ll have to use Google/Bing, LinkedIn, or online databases to find recruiters and the usefulness of the first two options depends on your ability to use Boolean search strings. Online databases are a bit friendlier to use, though each is different and offers differing abilities to drill down and identify recruiters by type, industry, function, or geography.

Retained versus Contingency Recruiters

By recruiter type, I’m referring to the fact that search consultants (a fancy name for a headhunter or recruiter) come in two flavors: retained versus contingency. Retained recruiters work on a retainer paid by the company for whom they conduct searches. Since they have an ongoing relationship with their client companies and are highly motivated to keep these relationships vibrant, retained recruiters cautiously select candidates to showcase to their clients. This choosiness makes it tougher for you to get their attention, but means that, once you do, you’re more likely to get at least a screening interview.

Contingency recruiters work without a retainer and source position requisitions from several companies at a time. Because they only get paid if a candidate they suggest gets hired, they tend to forward competing candidates for openings, which in turn means you’re less likely to get an interview. If you’ve ever been badgered by a recruiter or recruited and then dropped without a word, the search consultant was probably a contingency recruiter who switched horses midstream when they found a candidate they thought more likely than you to get tapped for an interview by the client company.

It’s important to recognize, though, that regardless of how you identify recruiters you want to introduce yourself to, there’s a right and wrong way to go about doing so. Relationship-building with recruiters is an imperative, which means it’s unreasonable to expect that sending one or more resumes to a bunch of them will likely yield a multitude of career opportunities for you to consider. Recruiters generally have so many candidates sending them their materials that they usually have an assortment of exceptionally well-qualified candidates to choose from. Unless you, too, are an exceptional candidate, you struggle to get on their radar unless you are prepared to implement a simple but effective relationship-building strategy.

Additional BlueSteps Features

But BlueSteps is not just a recruiter directory; it’s also an executive job board and provider of expert career advise geared to the needs of senior managers. In addition to the recruiter message builder already mentioned, they also offer curated open searches and virtual workshops. New in 2019 is an innovative dashboard that enables you to set and achieve career goals, benchmark BlueSteps content, quickly spot curated career opportunities that match your background, and a brand-new compensation benchmarking tool that every executive is bound to enjoy.

Do executive job boards factor into your career search? If so, which one(s) do you most prefer to use and why?

If you plan to invest in a membership, save yourself 20% with this coupon code: CherylSimpson20 (no spaces but with two capitalized letters).

About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.