Career Spotlight: Executive Recruiter

An In-depth Guide to the Career of an Executive Recruiter

Companies in highly competitive markets rely on outstanding talent to help move their organization forward. How do they fill their needs of hiring the best staff?

This is where executive recruiters come in.

Companies use executive recruiters to find the right people for high-level executive roles. There are many benefits to this kind of outsourcing. For one thing, you’re relying on the recruiter’s expertise to find you the best candidate for your C-level job. Executive recruiters also may have many more resources they can use to locate appropriate candidates than you might have available to you.

Let’s explore more about executive recruiters.

What Is an Executive Recruiter?

As you may have guessed, executive recruiting is a specialized area of human resources management that involves the locating and recruiting of high-level executives to fill open roles. Those who carry out this job are called executive recruiters. Sometimes they’re even called executive headhunters.

Organizations usually hire these HR professionals when they don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to do it themselves. Executive recruiters are detailed and precise when searching for and vetting potential candidates because these potential employees need to fit the company’s open position perfectly.

What Does an Executive Recruiter Do?

In general, an executive recruiter manages job openings, verifies candidates, and encourages these candidates to apply to a company’s open positions. Recruiters also have a variety of other job duties, including:

  • Post job ads on relevant platforms
  • Coordinate with the hiring team to fill open positions
  • Manage client accounts
  • Understand laws regarding recruitment policies
  • Verify and assess resumes
  • Conduct interviews
  • Negotiate salaries and contracts
  • Onboard new hires and develop training programs
  • Stay current with industry standards
  • Improve the hiring process
  • Manage candidates
  • Conduct reference checks
  • How to Become an Executive Recruiter

    You might think that to become an executive recruiter, you can just jump right in the field. However, there are certain steps you must take for success. First, you must acquire the right education. Usually, a degree in human resources management is suitable, although a degree in a business field may also be a good choice. In addition, you could choose to earn your MBA to bolster your employment prospects.

    If you’re just starting out, it would be beneficial to obtain a position at a recruiting firm rather than try to establish your own firm. Getting on-the-job experience is your best bet for breaking into this field.

    Third, don’t forget to network! Expanding your social and professional networks will help you meet potential clients and it shows other recruiters that you are someone with whom they can work.

    Skills Needed to Be an Executive Recruiter

    To be a productive executive recruiter, you need to have the right education, experience, and skill set. Here are some of the most important skills that a recruiter should possess:

  • Communication skills
  • Knowledge of sales
  • Networking skills
  • Observational skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Patience
  • Resilience
  • Empathy
  • Education Needed to Be an Executive Recruiter

    As mentioned, it’s good to have a degree in human resources management if you want to enter the field of executive recruitment. Excelsior University’s Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) in Business and Management program includes coursework in accounting, financial management, marketing, project management, employee relations, leadership, management practice, business communication, and global commerce.

    The Master of Science in Management program covers subjects that managers must master to successfully guide direct reports and develop employees, build effective teams, oversee projects, create budgets, handle corporate finances, manage organizational change, solve business problems, and communicate clearly with people at all levels of an organization.

    Further, the Master of Business Administration program is especially designed for executive managers driven to grow their careers in strategy, global development, operations, human resources, and digital transformation.

    Check out any of these programs if you plan to become an executive recruiter.

    Executive Recruitment Types

    When entering the world of executive recruitment, it’s important to note that there are two different forms: contingent search vs. retained search. In a contingent search, recruiters focus on easily accessible and readily available talent, while in a retained search, recruiters focus on finding the highly specific, absolute best people for a company’s open position. Let’s explore these a little more.

    Contingent executive search.In a contingent executive search, payment works a little like some lawyers and their clients in that “if we don’t win, you don’t pay us.” In other words, the executive recruiter and/or recruitment firm only gets paid if a candidate is successfully placed in an open position for a company. This type of search is not exclusive; many recruiters and firms often compete with each other to find candidates for the same company.

  • Retained executive search.In a retained executive search, a recruiter works on a retained basis, meaning they charge an upfront fee for their services. The company also agrees to work specifically with that recruiter and/or recruitment firm to fill their talent needs. Recruiters can find anywhere from three to 10 candidates who are a good option for a company’s open position.
  • According to, the salary range of an executive recruiter falls between $79,468 and $117,902. Salaries vary widely depending on education, skills, experience level, and more.

    If you would like to enter this lucrative field, speak to an admission’s counselor today and get started on your path into executive recruitment.