I liken the executive search process to a grown-up version of the game “hide and seek”. Brands across every sector are the seekers. Executives tend to hide. If you want to learn how to get discovered by an executive search firm— keep reading.

The “playground” is big and complex. It spans geographies, industries, and functions. To most, it is unfamiliar. It is also competitive. The best seekers fight to find and tag (hire) the best hiders. To do so is to win.

Search firms are proxy seekers. They spend all of their time in the playground. The best of them move quickly, discreetly, and know the lay of the land. For this reason, they are retained for the most important rounds of hide and seek.

The game is not efficient. Often, the “hiders” would rather be found. That is, there are many executives who want to be employed by brands who would want to employ them.

This paradigm is suboptimal. Search firms and technologies help to disturb it, but executives have agency, too. Every day, job seeking executives (“hiders”) ask my teammates and I at N2Growth for career advice.

My biggest recommendation: do not hide and stay visible. What does that mean? The following three tips will help you:

  1. Control your virtual presence. Now is the age of data ubiquity, data permanence, and social proofing. Who you are, as recorded by the internet, is accessible to anyone, anywhere. That ledger is here to stay, and the buzz and entanglement of that ledger with other ledgers is the basis of clout. Being discovered through clout is not enough to get hired, but it is enough to get noticed.
  2. Engage in public discourse. This advice is not for everyone. But if you are looking for an executive job, make noise in the bushes. Share ideas, feedback, and credit. Engage with people on the forefront and on the margins. Sharing an insight has turned into a job opportunity too many times for us to underestimate the power of public engagement.
  3. Treat each relationship like a repeated game. The salesperson blowing up your inbox could be the link to your next employer. The person you rejected after an interview could be a degree away from your promised land. Acknowledge that uncertainty and treat each interaction as if it is part of a repeated game. If you are lucky enough to continue creating and capturing value, you will see familiar faces.

Applied consistently and well, you can maximize the odds of winning the career game. Good luck!