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Working with search firms

CEO Update receives many inquiries from job-seeking members asking for advice on connecting with executive recruiters. With search firms handling more senior-level searches at associations/nonprofits every year, relationships with recruiters can be key. However, taking a haphazard approach at the beginning of this relationship can hurt your candidacy, not only for one search, but also for searches the recruiter may handle in the future.


Retained executive recruiters are paid by the client—the hiring organization—to find the best candidate for the position. Generally, they do not work with individuals seeking opportunities. Requesting time for an informational interview risks alienating recruiters unless you are a fairly strong possibility for one of their current assignments.


Your membership with CEO Update is a resource for gathering information on the current recruiting climate.  Each edition of the publication highlights searches being conducted by the top search firms and The Departures and Arrivals section provides details on recent placements by top firms. Following searches will help you track the scope and specialty of each firm. Recruiters appreciate executives who are helpful to them. Making a referral of a qualified candidate for one of their searches can help establish a positive relationship with a recruiter.