Do's and Don't's for Maintaining a Long-term Relationship with an Executive Search Partner


As I wrote about my second grader's graduation and the words of wisdom from the superintendent on life's lessons, I thought about writing part II:

"Wise counsel for candidates from the perspective of an executive search partner."

  Just as the superintendent's advice resonated with all of the parents of our graduating second graders, it seems that much of his message can be applied to our industry. The basic premise centers around treating others as you would like to be treated, with respect and common courtesy. Executive search partners build long term relationships with both their clients as well as candidates. If you want to maintain a lasting relationship, read on...

Don't waste anyone's time

If you are just window shopping and have no intention of even considering a career move, then please let us know that! Or perhaps you are open to entertaining another opportunity and one sounds perfect except that it requires having to relocate. If this is a show stopper, then please don't throw your hat in the ring. No one wants last minute surprises or to be left standing at the altar.

Do your homework and know your audience

Be prepared when you come in to meet with the search partner. First impressions really do count! Make the effort to research the company, the individuals that you will be interviewing with, the business challenges they may be facing, etc, so that you can have productive discussions and determine if the role is the right fit. An unprepared candidate is a real turn-off and will not move forward in the process.


Many candidates think they know what the search partner is looking for and wants to hear. Many even have a rehearsed set of answers to questions that are never asked and end up giving a monologue instead of having a spontaneous conversation. Our job is to assess technical/subject matter expertise for the role as well as cultural and organizational leadership fit with the client. Every role and client is unique and therefore, we seek thoughtful answers to our targeted questions.

Be completely truthful

Positive relationships are built on trust. Anything less than that will burn a bridge and you won't get a second chance.

Be enthusiastic!

If you are interested in the potential opportunity, show us! This is not the occasion to practice your best poker face. In addition to having the right skill set for a particular role, we need to be convinced that you are genuinely excited about the opportunity in order to move forward.

Don't become MIA during the process

Communication is paramount. We are all busy and even have emergencies from time to time. If you need to withdraw from the process given personal circumstances or if you decide you aren't interested in the position, please let us know. Several years ago, a candidate was in a plane crash and called from his hospital bed to explain why it took him 48 hours to return our call! This is a great example of building a lasting relationship with the search partner, even in the face of adversity. If you can't make time for the search firm, that is a guaranteed way to end the relationship.

Accept constructive criticism from the search partner

There is no one better equipped to provide sound advice and prepare you for the interview than the search partner who knows the client's wants/needs. If the search partner believes that a particular critique would be beneficial, then welcome his/her counsel. It could make the difference between receiving an offer or not.

The executive search process is a three-way partnership between the client, search partner and candidate. Search firms take pride in identifying, assessing and delivering the ideal individual for a particular role. If you practice the above, you will be assured of lasting relationships with executive search partners who often hold the keys to what could be your next great career opportunity!



Tell us what you think!