The Role of a Search Firm

A search firm provides a wide range of recruiting activities including identifying the core responsibilities and qualifications needed for a given role; writing job descriptions; developing a candidate pool; assessing how candidates’ skills, experience, and personalities match the open position; conducting reference checks; and advising on the negotiation process between the organization and the final candidate.


The functions of a search firm:

  1. Identification of qualified candidates. A search firm can develop an outreach strategy to identify candidates outside of an organization’s common networks. This may include a strategy for placing advertisements, making phone calls and sending emails to uncover new candidates—even those potential candidates not actively job hunting.
  2. Coordinating interviews and notification to unsuccessful applicants.
  3. Complete tasks within its area of expertise. Many search firms will have a particular expertise that may be focused on a service area (e.g., higher education or healthcare), a budget size, or a function (e.g., executive directors, chief financial officers, chief operating officers, development directors, etc.).
  4. Act as an objective participant in the process. Search firm consultants should identify issues as they arise.
  5. Free up valuable time of the search committee. Search firms can create useful resume screening and interview tools to save time and create a better outcome.
  6. Maintain confidentiality. Sometimes the nature of a search must be confidential in order to avoid publicity of a senior leader’s departure. A search firm can conduct a search without sharing the name of the organization. The search firm is also responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the potential candidates.

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