Regardless of the type of industry or size of an organization, many professionals aspire to join the ranks of the executive team and become a leader who drives a company’s success.

However, there are only a select few who get that opportunity; it takes a unique combination of skills, motivation, and support to break into the C-suite.

Advance Your Career with an Executive Recruiter

Some professionals climb the corporate ladder to the executive level by being promoted from within an organization. Taking this path takes time, but is a good way for those with leadership aspirations to reach the executive suite. 

Waiting (or hoping) for an internal promotion isn’t the right option for everyone, though. Some choose to approach their search for executive level positions by using job boards like LinkedIn to search for open positions. It can also be challenging to stand out from the crowd with this approach; there are many more executive level job seekers than there are open executive jobs. 

That’s where executive recruiters come in. 

An executive recruiter specializes in connecting qualified professionals and business leaders to open executive positions through connections they have within organizations.  

Executive recruiters either contract directly with organizations to fill certain roles, or work independently matching job seekers with roles that fit their skills. Often they are filling roles that aren’t publicly posted.

They also help job seekers present their skills and experience in a way that helps them stand out. They advise on developing an online portfolio of past work and may help job seekers practice their interview skills. 

5 Tips for Impressing an Executive Recruiter

Executive recruiters receive a large volume of resumes, so your application must stand out and catch their attention in just a few seconds. 

Here are five tips to help you stand out and impress an executive recruiter. 

Polish your online presence

Just like you research potential companies and jobs online, recruiters are researching job seekers, too. In today’s world, you must have a polished online presence. This includes having a professional profile on LinkedIn where you can showcase your job history and achievements. Consider reaching out to former colleagues and ask them to write a reference on your LinkedIn page. 

It’s also important to stay active on LinkedIn during your job search. Comment on posts that you like, or post your opinions about news items or what’s happening in the business world. Being active shows that you are engaged. 

Depending on your industry, you may also need an online portfolio or a website that showcases your work. Link your portfolio to your LinkedIn profile for more visibility and include a link to it in your signature line when sending out emails.  

Consider keeping personal social media profiles private and avoid posting anything that could be construed as controversial. Recruiters could shy away from you if your online presence has anything that could raise red flags about your executive candidacy. 

Articulate why you want the role

Executives make important decisions every day — and can tell you exactly why they made them. Your answer to an executive recruiter about why you want the role should be clear and decisive. Do your research about the company and the role you are applying for. Think through and articulate why you have the skills to lead that particular organization. Have an answer as to what your vision would be if hired and why you could inspire and lead the organization to achieve success. Practice your answers to be ready if a recruiter contacts you unexpectedly. 

Follow up

Maintain a relationship with recruiters; they’ll get to know you better, which will bring you to the top of the list when they recruit for other open positions. 

If you apply for a position, follow up with recruiters in a reasonable time frame to demonstrate your interest. If you submitted your resume and have not been contacted within five days, reach out and ask for a status update. However, reaching out too much (e.g. every day) can make you stand out in a negative way.  

Seek feedback

If the recruiter decides not to submit you for a role or if you are turned down after the interview, ask for feedback on what skills you may be lacking or what you could have done differently to land the role. This gives you the opportunity to gain those skills for the next role you apply for. Seeking feedback also helps you build a relationship with the recruiter. 

Attend professional and executive development training

Stand out by enhancing your resume with professional and executive development training. Some programs offer certificates that you can use to further enhance your resume. Harvard DCE Professional & Executive Development offers Certificates of Leadership Excellence in Management Development, Executive Development, Strategy and Innovation for Senior Leaders, and Excellence in Leading Teams

Recruiters are impressed by professionals who continue to learn and grow their leadership skills. Participating in training showcases that you are highly motivated and want to gain the knowledge and skills you need to be an effective leader. 

Characteristics of an Effective Executive Leader

Executive leaders are responsible for guiding the organization. They set the company’s vision and strategy, inspire employees to perform at their best, and develop an organization’s corporate culture.

They are generally people who are highly motivated and resilient and have the confidence to face challenges and take risks.

Other key characteristics and skills include: 


Executive leaders have a vision of where they want the organization to be one, five, or even 10 years down the road. They have the knowledge and experience to anticipate what the future will bring to their industry and the capability to guide their organization to innovate for the future

Effective Communication

Executive leaders can clearly articulate their vision for the company and motivate teams a through their words. They excel at interpersonal communications to motivate managers and other employees, have the persuasion and negotiation skills to align people across the organization on common goals, and are effective public speakers. Strong communication skills help to position executive leaders as the trusted voice and face of the organization. 

Willingness to Direct 

Good executive leaders surround themselves with a highly productive team that they coach and mentor to bring out their best. They understand the value of helping others advance their careers and spend time sharing their leadership knowledge. 

Creative Thinking 

When faced with challenges, executive leaders use their creativity and problem-solving skills to develop innovative ways to overcome barriers and arrive at solutions that benefit their teams and the organization.

Confidence to Make Decisions 

The C-suite is not a place for indecisiveness. Effective leaders consult with their teams, gather and analyze feedback, and then make decisions based on the input they have received. While they should be strong and confident in their decisions, they should also have the ability to pivot quickly if their decisions don’t work out as planned. 

Ability to Inspire Others

Strong and successful organizations are filled with highly motivated people who bring their best selves to work every day because they are inspired by good executive leaders. Inspiring employees involves connecting with people at all levels of the organization and creating an environment that supports a positive corporate culture. Executive leaders align people under common goals, inspiring them to work together as a team to achieve success. 

Gaining Executive Leadership Skills 

While some of these skills may come naturally to people, many of them must be learned and mastered over time. In addition, the executive role and its responsibilities are constantly evolving. 

Professional and Executive Development programs are designed to help those who want to advance to the next level in their career by acquiring and honing their leadership skills. Programs like these can also help aspiring leaders become more confident, empowered, motivated, and engaged with their work, allowing them to maximize their leadership potential.

Training programs can also help aspiring executives and those already in the C-suite understand and adapt to the latest leadership trends in an ever-changing corporate environment.

Learn more about Harvard DCE Professional & Executive Development training and how the different program offerings can help aspiring leaders achieve their career goals and advance to the executive level.