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Journey from Contingent Recruitment Consultant to Executive Search

Rachael Bailey-Frost, Talent Manager

Journey from Contingent Recruitment Consultant to Executive Search


Navigating through the recruitment industry involves facing numerous challenges and opportunities for growth. This article explores Ajay Bhella's journey, transitioning from the fast-paced world of contingency recruitment to the more strategic arena of executive headhunting.

What inspired or motivated you to transition from Contingent recruitment to Executive search?

I began my career as a Headhunter, driven by a longstanding interest in business. Placing senior Business leaders and Directors appealed to me, particularly challenging and niche assignments. Recognising an opportunity to further this focus, I joined ATA Recruitment, where I could leverage my expertise. While I foster business relationships, ATA Recruitment collaborates with Directors' teams to place Engineers, making it a strategic choice for both parties.

How did you prepare yourself for the challenges of Executive Search?

To prepare for the challenges of Executive Search, I drew upon my prior experience in the field. Having already been involved in executive search activities, I knew how important it is to be focused from prior experience. It also gave me some insight into the expected challenges, such as having to turn away non-senior work and long-standing clients.

Additionally, the pandemic presented an opportunity for me to further fortify my resources by dedicating time to building my network. I committed myself to going the extra mile, to ensure that I could establish and maintain a robust system. Moreover, I adopted a strategic approach to business development, making prudent decisions to maximise efficiency and effectiveness in navigating the executive search landscape.


What new skills did you feel are essential to succeed in Executive-level hiring?
To succeed in executive-level hiring, several essential skills come to the forefront other than maintaining a robust system and being focussed. Which are;

  • Patience

  • Providing solutions

  • Being able to operate and communicate at a senor level

  • Multi-stakeholder management

  • Retained headhunting

  • Evidence of success – going the extra mile

  • Delivering results

  • Tenacity

  • Attention to detail

  • The hunger to want to be the best and to believe in this.


How did your recruitment strategies change when focusing on Executive roles?

When focusing on executive roles, I made substantial adaptations to my recruitment strategies, prioritising the utmost importance of confidentiality and fostering relationships. Recognising the critical significance of these positions, I ensured the implementation of both a primary solution and a backup plan. The extended time-to-hire was factored in, acknowledging that executive placements typically require a longer timeframe compared to contingent roles. Adopting a low-volume, high-value approach became imperative because of the heightened risks involved.

In selling our services, I embraced a long-term perspective, understanding that it could take anywhere from 6 to 12 months before seeing tangible results from clients. Providing clients with valuable insights became paramount at this level; they sought assistance rather than mere CVs. Moreover, prioritising the establishment of key, strategic, and trustworthy business relationships emerged as the cornerstone of success in executive recruitment endeavours.

What advice would you give to someone looking to make a similar transition into Executive Search?

Transitioning into Executive Search offers immense rewards, encompassing not only substantial earnings potential but also the opportunity for personal and professional growth. However, it's essential to brace yourself for a period of intense grafting, typically spanning 18 to 24 months, during which going the extra mile becomes second nature.

This field demands a high level of commitment, perseverance and focus. For people who truly want to succeed in business and become top recruiters, Executive Search offers a great opportunity. It can help you achieve your career goals and be part of a select group in the industry who focus on such niche assignments.

We are always keen to speak to talented recruiters and sales professionals, who are looking to take the next step in their career. If you're ready to join our team in Leicester get in touch with our Talent Manager Rachael Bailey-Frost today.

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Find out more about a career with ATA Search today. Send me your CV or connect with me on LinkedIn today.

Telephone: 07920 595 229


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Find​ out more about ATA Search here

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