An attorney once asked me what to do about recruiters: she worked as in-house counsel and felt she did not get the same attention from recruiters as her colleagues in law firms. Here are 3 strategies for getting noticed by executive recruiters:
Build long-term relationships with recruiters by being helpful. Take recruiter calls, even when you’re not actively looking, and help them find people by referring quality leads. Remember that your referrals are a reflection on you, so only refer people who fit what they are working on and who will represent you well.
Recruiters like to find you. They don’t typically see unsolicited candidates. So maintain a robust network, find out from your colleagues who the good recruiters are for your sector, and have your colleagues introduce you.
Again, recruiters like to find you, so appear in the places they will look. Be active in your professional association, speak at conferences, publish white papers, and update your LinkedIn profile. Speaking and publishing are great ways to establish your expertise, and recruiters like people at the top of their game. This is also a great way for someone with a less traditional background (e.g., in-house counsel) to get known amongst the more traditional colleagues (e.g., at the brand name law firms).
BUT Bonus Strategy #4:
Manage your own career. Recruiters are great for getting a sense of the market, including compensation, demand for your skills, and hiring trends. Recruiters do have access to plum positions, especially the big retained firms and especially for C-suite spots. However, you should already be networking with people in a position to hire you and refer you. In this way, you are the best person to position yourself and keep yourself in front of mind of the right people.
You are the best manager of your career. This should include recruiter relationships, but not exclusively so. Recruiter relationships are helpful but not necessary.