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Training to Become an Executive Recruiter

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Highly prized executive positions in finance, IT (information technology), entertainment or other high-profile industries can't be filled by merely placing an ad in the Sunday paper. Since the qualifications for executive positions are stringent, there's no room for a human resources director to skimp on screening or background checks. That's why executive recruiters, or executive search consultants, help companies hire the most appropriate candidates.

General Skills

Executive recruiters need real-life people skills. An outgoing personality and good conversational skills will take you further as an executive search consultant than a college degree and a taciturn manner. You’ll need good organizational skills to keep track of candidates, their qualifications and suitable clients. To place executives, you’ll also need to perfect quick decision-making skills to judge applicants' skills and references. If you don’t naturally possess these skills, you can hone them through sales or public relations positions before applying for work as an executive recruiter.

Business Education

A business degree will prepare a student for a career as an executive recruiter. If you want to deal with a certain industry, like IT or engineering, a minor in the subject or at least a few courses in the field will give you the knowledge you need to snag a specialized recruiter job. Even if you don’t have a college degree, high school business courses and a go-getter personality will help you secure an entry-level recruiter position.

Human Resources Background

A human resources background, whether attained with a formal degree, in a job with the human resources department of a company, or in a temporary employment agency or other placement firm, makes it easier for a professional to segue into a position as an executive recruiter. You’ll know the way an organization works and have insight into how hiring personnel think when they evaluate a candidate.


The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) sponsors a certificate program to help executive recruiters improve their skills. Students must pass a two-part exam before receiving a CRA (Certified Researcher Associate) diploma from the association. The seven online courses in this program include instruction in screening candidates over the phone and effectively targeting the search for each job candidate. As part of this program, the AESC offers six teleconference forums in reference checks and other subjects pertinent to recruiting.

Other Considerations

An executive recruiter has a choice of many work situations. He can work within a large corporation that hires executives for many types of companies, or as an independent contractor. Many large placement agencies specialize in screening executives for prime positions, and insist that their recruiters have a top-notch background and outstanding contacts. An executive recruiter needs to follow up on meetings with human resource personnel and top movers and shakers from many industries to keep his or her email and phone lists full of proper candidates and clients at a moment's notice. An executive recruiter should attend networking events and keep a portfolio filled with business cards to give to prospective clients. An executive recruiter looking to place six- or seven-figure candidates must have an exemplary work record with other agencies and/or a human resources or business degree.


Marianne Moro is a copywriter and journalist based in Hollywood. She has been writing professionally since 1999, specializing in home remodeling, interior decorating, pets, travel and holistic health. Moro was a part-time editor and contributing writer for, a home remodeling and decorating website, and has also contributed to the Cutting Chair and Entertainment Today.