Our Blog

Demystifying the Recruiting Process: What Executives Need to Know


Everyone has heard the terms headhunter or recruiter. However, there are many misconceptions and assumptions made by executives when it comes to how the recruitment process works and how the key players (mainly the hiring company, the recruiter, and the candidate) fit into that framework. To shed some light on this process, here are a few key takeaways to know before engaging with an executive recruiter:

  1. Are they internal or external recruiters?
  2. Know their niche
  3. Recruiters are not career counselors
  4. The goal is to find candidates, not jobs
  5. They don’t control the hiring process

Are they internal vs. external recruiters?

Internal recruiters are employed directly by the hiring company and work in-house to staff that specific organization’s employment needs. External recruiters are third-party individuals or agencies that multiple organizations leverage to find full time, temporary, and even contract hires. These external agencies can work on contingency (hired on an ad-hoc basis in competition with other recruiters and paid if the job is filled) or on retainer (paid by companies to conduct an exclusive job search for a particular position, usually higher level positions).

One of the greatest advantages of an external recruitment agency is that they share your same goal in the hiring process. Additionally, they have a much wider exposure to industry-wide job opportunities across many different companies, making them an amazing resource and asset in your job search.

Know their niche

Most executive recruiting agencies specialize in a specific industry or vertical. It’s extremely important to know if your recruiter is in alignment with your industry and skillset. This will allow you to tailor your experience, strengths, and skills to best fit their needs and those of the companies they are working with and be successful in your job search.

Recruiters are not career counselors or life coaches

Think of recruiters as gatekeepers to your industry’s most coveted executive positions. They need to know that you have the necessary skillsets, leadership qualities, and personality to fit well within hiring organizations. A recruiter can help you define and focus your career path on specific jobs within your area of expertise, however, they are not career counselors or life coaches.  If you are not happy in your chosen career, you would be better suited to seek out a career counselor or life coach to help you figure out how to make necessary changes.  To be effective in getting a new position in your field, know what you’re searching for, make a strong first impression, and be prepared to discuss what you want and what you don’t want, and why you’d be an optimal fit for hiring organizations.

The goal is to place candidates in jobs

Recruiters get paid by the hiring company. They absolutely want to build a strong network of potential candidates for currently available positions as well as for future opportunities. However, at the end of the day, their goal is to place candidates in jobs. After you’ve established an initial relationship with a recruiter and discussed your career goals and background, be sure to stay in-touch. Provide pulse-checks on recent achievements or changes to your resume to ensure your information is current and that you remain top-of-mind.  Your recruiter can be a strong networking resource for you for many years to come.

They don’t control the hiring process

Recruiters are often the first-touch in the hiring process, but the hiring company still controls this and many factors can come into play during the job search from their point of view – internal candidates, hiring holds, company mergers and acquisitions, and scheduling difficulties, etc.

External recruitment agencies will receive updates, feedback, and questions regarding specific candidates, but have limited control over the hiring process within the company.  However, they are considered a valuable resource by the hiring company in providing qualified candidates ready for new challenges.

So executives: start networking and forming recruiter relationships now. Even if you’re not actively job seeking, having those resources in-place will help fast-track your search when the time comes and may even introduce you to new opportunities that you hadn’t considered. Happy hunting!

Burchard & Associates specializes in accounting and finance recruiting across all business sectors, including manufacturing, retail, wholesale/distribution, healthcare, financial services, and more.

Burchard & Associates provides a personal approach to accounting and tax recruitment for St. Louis and beyond. We are ready to listen to YOU.

Get in Touch