Advice from an Executive Recruitment Insider

The Recruitment industry is tough and intensely competitive. The landscape is fragmented by good, bad and indifferent recruiters, who earn their keep on a retained or contingency basis, at various points in the permanent and contracting markets.

It’s both a mystery and source of frustration to job-hunters, especially post-redundancy.

For all these reasons, it’s critical that executives understand the role recruiters play in their careers. I decided to get an update from an Executive Recruitment Insider.

Jeremy Wurm is a Melbourne-based executive search and selection consultant who’s built a successful long-term career, despite the state of the economy.

For 27 years, including 15 years at the helm of his Melbourne-based firm Brooker Consulting, Jeremy has sourced and placed C-suite and General Management level candidates across a wide range of sectors, including Education and Health, on an international basis. In Australia, Jeremy’s also consolidated his reputation as a leading consultant in the Not-for-Profit and Biotechnology sectors.

As Jeremy celebrates Brooker Consulting’s 15th anniversary this month, I turned the tables and interviewed him about what executives need to know about recruitment consultants and managing their careers, during job-search and redundancy.

Here are the key takeaways from my recent discussion with Jeremy.


The recruiter’s role is to be an honest broker between the (prospective) employer and employee. While the recruiter doesn’t find jobs for people, he or she should educate candidates accordingly.

Look for and contact any recruiter with knowledge of your target industry. Recruiters can be responsive to ad hoc approaches from executives with relevant and interesting expertise. This often results in a mutually beneficial cafe ‘networking’ conversation.

Job candidates

Follow instructions. If an advertisement asks for a four-page word version resume, comply.

Forget cover letters – your time is better used tailoring your resume to the position description. And make sure your resume does you justice.

Do your homework and go to interviews well prepared.  Research people you’re going to be interviewed by, check the background of board members, talk to someone who works at the organisation, and/or recently left the organisation.

Don’t waffle during interviews but do articulate how you add value to an organisation. Authenticity is critical – there should be no surprises.

[Tweet “Forget cover letters – your time is better used tailoring your resume to the position description – Jeremy Wurm”]


Redundancy can be viewed as an advantage. It means you can start in a job earlier. Position the redundancy well, and ensure that the reason for leaving your previous employer is consistent with those shared by referees.

Spend time on yourself, be positive and upbeat, and don’t be disparaging about previous employers.

Attend a career transition program if available, and take time to extract the benefit and use it to launch the next phase of your career. Get a business card and join or reignite professional associations.

Call recruiters referred to you by professional contacts, and mention their name by way of introduction. Ask for advice and who their competitors are in that sector, rather than ask for a job. Stay in touch (but not too often) and keep an eye on their website.

[Tweet “Attend a career transition program if available, take time to extract the benefit & use it to launch the next phase of your career – Jeremy Wurm”]


Go to every networking event, whether it’s a breakfast or a fashion parade. You never know who you’ll meet. Don’t be the person with the abandoned nametag on the registration table at the end of the event!

Engage in coffee conversations – you know more people than you think you know – they know people and like to help.

If you don’t enjoy networking “suck it up!” – hang out with an extravert or take someone along with you. It’s a necessary evil.

[Tweet “Don’t be the person with the abandoned nametag on the registration table at the end of the event! – Jeremy Wurm”]

Career planning

You don’t know when the next job will come up. Be receptive to something out of left field.

You need to be connected – the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Get exposure to governance by joining boards and/or becoming a member of AICD. If you have CEO aspirations, get to know board members – ultimately they make CEO appointments.

Volunteer, contribute to society and promote corporate social responsibility.

Mentor others and develop stakeholder engagement skills.

[Tweet “You don’t know when the next job will come up. Be receptive to something out of left field – Jeremy Wurm”]

Following a marketing career in Europe, Jeremy commenced international executive search in London. He relocated back to Australia in 1989 where he joined Elite Consulting Group in his home town Adelaide. After Elite was acquired by Tony Beddison’s SACS Consulting Group during the “the recession we had to have”, Jeremy relocated to Melbourne. In 1999, Jeremy left SACS to start his own executive search and selection firm Brooker Consulting.
Photo: The Melbourne Headshot Company

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