Executive search consultants are the gatekeepers who can help give you a boost on your climb to the top. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Peter Felix, president of the Association for Executive Search Consultants (AESC), who shared some tips for how IT executives can work with recruiters.The AESC recently published "Executive Search and Your Career," a primer that demystifies retained executive search and explains its roles in the employment market. Available from the professional organization's Web site, the publication costs $19.95 for non-members, with volume discounts available.Among Peter's recommendations:* Understand the difference between retained search and contingency. Retained searches are most appropriate for executive-level positions and means that a search firm has been contracted to fill a particular position with a company. Although its obligation is the hiring company and not the candidate, you can expect it to describe the senior position in a consultative manner and handle the search in a professional, confidential manner.* Get noticed by the search community by boosting your profile within your industry, such as taking on speaking engagements. Identify executive firms and consultants who specialize in your industry and make yourself known by 10 within your field.*\u00a0Rehearse a brief verbal summary of your background so you're prepared when a consultant calls.* Don't be put off by different interview styles. Learn what they are and how to deal with them.* When negotiating compensation, understand how much leverage you have but don't overestimate. And don't enter a negotiation believing you must win on every issue.