Looking for a great new job? First you need to establish and build a lasting relationship with an executive search firm

MTA media headhuntersHere at Martin Tripp Associates we’re often approached by people when they have made the decision to move roles and are actively looking for a new job opportunity. While our end goal is to place the best candidates in the best roles, our primary objective is to help clients find the best available talent for the post or business function they need to fill, rather than to help candidates source new jobs.

Unlike most recruitment agencies, retained executive search specialists aren’t looking for a ‘transactional’ relationship with candidates, it’s not the job to try and fit candidates into as many available vacancies as possible, it’s more a matter of establishing relationships with the right people in their specialist area, so when client vacancies come along, we know who to approach.

With this in mind, I thought it might be useful to set out some simple ways in which a senior executive can establish and nurture a relationship with an executive search firm.


Any executive worth his or her salt has short, medium, and long term plans for their business; it should be no different with their career. Even if not considering an imminent move, identifying a group of executives search firms or individuals who specialise in your area of business makes good sense. It’s good to know the people who can help you in the long term. Finding out exactly who they are, and where they work, isn’t tough. There are several easily accessible directories of leading search firms, and through contact with colleagues and playing close attention on social media, the same reliable names are likely to come up again and again. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Nurture the relationship

Having identified those few people or firms you think are best suited to you, why not make time to have coffee with them? Just pick up the phone and ask. And over time, why not all of them? It doesn’t need to be anything formal, just an easy general conversation at first. A coffee and a simple chat will usually be enough for you to establish the one or two individuals or firms with whom its right for you to build a relationship. A headhunter should be a partner and advisor who can provide guidance not just when it comes to moving jobs, but throughout the entirety of your career.

A headhunter is for life, not just for Christmas

In order for your relationship with an executive search firm or headhunter to meaningful, it really needs to work for both parties. That doesn’t mean an I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine relationship, that would never work. It needs to be a friendly, sharing relationship where the executive is happy to every so often put the headhunter onto people who they think it would be a good idea for them to meet, both potential clients and candidates, and for each party to keep each other up-to-speed on industry goings-on. It’s amazing how beneficial a little bit of gossip can be. What a headhunter really wants to know from a candidate who they know, how well connected are they? Regular, light contact can keep a candidate at the front of a headhunters’ mind for when those killer roles come up.

Good things come to those who wait

Don’t rush – that’s by far the most important thing to remember. Building your career, plotting the moves, can take time. The astute candidate keeps their executive searchers close, they don’t just reach out when they’re desperate for a move.

We’re not just there for that brief window when you’re seeing what’s available, it might be better to think of us as a relationship resource. Not only can we offer advice and guidance, we can probably help put you in touch with a range of fellow executives who, over the course of a career, you might need to speak with. Have you finished mulling that idea for a new piece of software or social media application? Is it time you talked to someone about getting some backing? We can probably help with that too.