A Commitment to Candidate Care

Before, During and After the Assignment

Many executive candidates are already in satisfying jobs when they agree to be considered for a new role. Others are actively seeking new opportunities. Both types of candidate are willing to participate in the thorough, often lengthy assessment and selection process with everything that process entails: effort, self-discovery, a sense of risk, and sometimes disappointment. The executive search consultant can make the experience worthwhile regardless of the outcome, through superior candidate care.

What is candidate care?

Candidate care begins with executive search firms who, with each search assignment, represent their clients—the hiring organizations—to a slate of high level, executive candidates. Candidate care is the ethical, confidential, respectful, and responsive treatment of executive candidates.

What does that mean? First, candidate care means respecting the confidentiality of the candidate. In AESC research published in Executive Talent 2020, “Nine out of ten candidates felt that their confidentiality was protected at all times (93%) and that the executive search firm made them feel secure about exploring the opportunity (90%).

“Senior executives simply cannot afford to entertain a job change publically. They have investors, and competitors. Rumors about senior executives leaving can have a catastrophic impact on their organizations and on their careers. We understand the need for confidentiality—it’s our top priority.” - Glenda K. Brown, Managing Director.

Candidate care involves being responsive to candidates, especially during periods of waiting and uncertainty. It requires being honest at all times, and gentle, when a candidate is no longer under consideration. It is being constructive if an individual seeks feedback after their candidacy.

Oftentimes, candidate care means supporting the candidate after the search assignment is completed.

Why is it important?

Getting to yes: In every search assignment, the executive search consultant becomes an extension of the client. When the candidate feels respected and cared for by the consultant, and when the candidate experience is one of professionalism and trust, those positive feelings and experiences reflect on the client. The candidate’s experience becomes very important at the negotiation stage, and can influence whether the candidate says “yes.”

When the client says no: The respect and care shown by the executive search consultant leaves a lasting impression on the candidates not selected for a particular opportunity, as well. Those candidates have the potential to be candidates for opportunities in the future, future clients, and brand ambassadors for the client, search firm, and consultant.

“Candidates will remember you because you treated them so well. Six months later that can come into play in another assignment, or down the road when that former candidate has a key vacancy in their organization and is looking for a search firm. Today’s unsuccessful candidate could be tomorrow’s successful candidate, and even tomorrow’s client. Treating people with respect throughout the process is good for business, for our profession and for the candidates." - Karen Greenbaum, President and CEO, AESC.

BlueSteps as candidate care

“Many candidates find the search process very rewarding, regardless of the outcome. With the guidance of a top executive search firm, candidates have the chance to explore their own interests and aptitudes, and even hone their interview and negotiation skills. In the end, it’s always a win. A candidate either has a new challenge within a new organization, or has become a known entity to a reputable search firm, which could open other doors.” - From the AESC Candidate Bill of Rights.

Candidates surveyed in AESC’s recent BlueSteps Career Outlook Report were asked to rank the most important educational opportunities for staying relevant in the executive job market. “Executive coaching” was ranked the most important, followed by “digital and social media training.” These services out-ranked advanced degrees, industry accreditation, webinars, foreign language study and mentorship.

BlueSteps Executive Career Services provides these resources and more; services delivered with the same care and professionalism with which clients and search firms treat their candidates. Clients and search firms engage with candidates at multiple stages, and at every stage there is a something to offer through BlueSteps.

Referring candidates to BlueSteps, search consultants can be assured that their focus on candidate care will be continued seamlessly and with equal quality.

Unsolicited resumes:

Executive search consultants likely receive unsolicited resumes every day. How can they handle unsolicited resumes in a way that ensures these potential candidates feel cared for when the consultant doesn’t have a current opportunity? A referral to BlueSteps and its executive career services demonstrates both interest and caring. The search consultant can be confident that these candidates will feel recognized and supported by the search firm and by AESC.

Unsuccessful candidates:

For every assignment, there are several top candidates who just weren’t selected for the particular opportunity. These executives may benefit from a referral to BlueSteps and its Executive Career Services. Maybe they could use help enhancing their resume or LinkedIn Profile, or coaching to better position themselves for the next opportunity, or simply a broader range of exposure to the leading executive search firms worldwide—AESC members. Whatever services they choose, they will experience the extension of AESC candidate care.


Many people reach out to BlueSteps because they want to improve their “market positioning” before actively beginning their search. They may not be in the job market yet, but they want to be certain they are ready. And they want to be seen by the best firms with the special opportunity that just might come their way.

"I want to be on record that my coach has been amazing. […] Those who have reviewed my resume use words like “powerful” to describe it." - Chief Information Officer, Japan.

Candidate Care also means data security compliance

A key aspect of candidate care is protecting candidates’ confidentiality. BlueSteps has a long history of ensuring that candidates are treated with the utmost confidentiality, privacy and security. BlueSteps is in compliance with current best practice guidelines and will ensure that candidate data continues to align with emerging regulations, most notably EU Data Privacy regulation that addresses both data privacy and data security. AESC is developing best practice guidelines for its members and these same guidelines will be followed by AESC’s BlueSteps service. BlueSteps understands the importance of candidate consent and transparency in terms of how candidate data is shared only with the leading search firms around the world—AESC members. These firms are committed to AESC standards including a commitment to confidentiality.

“I found the career resources of BlueSteps extremely useful. I gained valuable guidance from search consultants and from executive coaches [including] very useful advice about job search strategy, personal branding and networking. The tips for interviewing and negotiation are also outstanding.” - Global Vice President: Commercial Initiatives, US.

"BlueSteps Executive Career Services was hugely valuable in identifying, positioning and communicating messaging changes I needed to focus on my value as a Board member. Working with [BlueSteps] has led to an incredible transformation and improvement of my resume, LinkedIn profile and other marketing materials. This investment in my future career has already generated returns many times over." - Board Member, USA.

Why BlueSteps and not some other resource?

BlueSteps advisors have a deep understanding of executive search, and work very closely with the executive candidate to understand and articulate their unique value in order to produce materials that differentiate them from other candidates in the market. And perhaps most importantly, BlueSteps is predicated on confidentiality, and often senior executives do not want their career aspirations exposed.

“Whether it’s an executive looking for a change or someone who wants to fine-tune their positioning for a board, our career coaches are really experts in their field. We help executives who have never had a LinkedIn profile. They may not have a resume because they haven’t needed one for decades. We have a real service because often we will work with people who may not have developed a professional focus, and this is where we really play to our strengths.” - Kathy Simmons, Executive Director, BlueSteps Executive Career Services.