Recruiters: The Missing Link

Executive recruiting is a multi-billion dollar international industry that acts as the missing link between a half million job seekers and employers each year. At last count, there was over 125,000 executive search practitioners in the United States, according to The Fordyce Letter, the industry’s leading trade journal.

There is hardly an industry or profession that has not spawned its own coterie of recruiters. They cover every conceivable pocket of the job market from food sales to data communications.

Generally speaking, recruiters work within well-defined niches. To make sense of a complicated employment market recruiters classify their candidates according to:

  • Title or function that refers to their descriptive title or rank within the company such as president, chief financial officer or chief information officer.
  • Skill or application that refers to their specialized abilities such as tax accounting, IBM AS/400 systems programming or secured lending; and
  • Product or service in a particular industry such as manufacturing, technology, legal or accounting.

For example, a recruiter might place engineers (title) with computer-aided design experience (skill) into positions with companies that build submarine hydraulic systems (product). Other recruiters might place CEOs (title) with plant management experience (skill) into companies that process frozen broccoli (product).

Of course, recruiters can use other means to define their markets. Some take an industry-specific approach such as retail or construction. You will probably find a recruiter is more interested in how long you have worked in a particular industry rather than your title or function.

Skill-specific recruiters take the opposite approach; the skills of their candidates are primary and the product or service of the host company is secondary. This is the preferred method of recruiters who specialize in placement of senior level management.

Think of your own experience. How would you classify yourself? Your answer will help you put your career into perspective and help the recruiter determine whether you fit into his or her market niche.