I am an executive that is actively exploring new career opportunities. Do you find that retained search firms are the primary source for new roles or networking? Other than leaders that you have worked with in the past, who do you network with and how?
Sally in Seattle
A good number of the executives we speak with that are new in a role tell us that they got the role because they are were hired by someone that they’ve worked with before. The reason this happens is because a high level of trust already exists between the person hiring and the person being hired.
Retained search firms are hired by companies in two instances:
- Multiple people are involved in the hiring decision process, and having an outside objective, experienced and trustworthy search partner ensures that a complete search will be done and that a strong pool of qualified candidates will be considered in the hiring decision process.
Where a potential candidate is already trustworthy to one of the people in the process, an executive search firm can ensure that this person is properly compared to others. In many cases, the person who is already known and trusted by one of the hiring decision makers is the person that wins. This can include an internal candidate for consideration or an external candidate that is known to or used to work with one of the hiring decision makers.
- When there is one key hiring decision maker involved, if they do not have someone they already trust that is interested and available, they will go to search.
The best people to network with as you look for your new role are those that you have worked with in the past. They already trust you.
The biggest challenge many executives have is that they only build their network when they are looking for their next role.
Successful executives are always networking, even when in their role.
Your question pretty much tells me that you are like most executives. You have not invested what you needed to so you can be as successful as you can be.
Is it too late to build your network when you are actively looking? No.
However, even if you are very successful in the building your network in your search process, the likelihood is, as it is for most executives, that you will ignore your network once you start working again and let your network go stale.
Networking is a verb. It requires action. If you don’t tend to your network, you won’t have a network that works for you.
An active network to whom you continually add value to you will keep you in mind for opportunities.
In your situation, I would focus on adding value to your current network of people you have worked with in the past, and grow your network of people so that you can begin to add value to them today so that they will be able to add value to them in the future. Could this turn into an opportunity in the short-term? Maybe. But if you are not playing the long game, you come off as desperate, which is the kiss of death for an executive in transition.
Also, spending time reaching out to recruiters may not be the most effective way to find your next role. Sure, recruiters out there may have the role that fits you, but experience shows that if you are visible and branded, good recruiters will find you if you are what they need to meet their clients’ needs.
Good luck with your search!
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