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Will a Headhunter Do? Why Executive Search Firms are Head-and-Shoulders above for Universities.

It can be tempting to turn to a headhunter when there is an opening in your college or university. They seem agile and able to fill a position quickly. You’re eager to have the vacancy filled, but before you jump at the chance, you may want to think twice. While headhunters are well suited for some industries, the unique needs of a college or nonprofit are better served by an executive search firm. Our own Dr. Marylouise Fennell shares four things that executive search firms understand:

  1. It’s a partnership. Executive search firms understand that it’s not just about getting someone into the position. For a placement to be successful, all parties must win: the university, the hire, and the search firm. Executive search firms have a holistic approach to filling a position.

  2. They get you. Executive search firms have a nuanced understanding of your organization’s culture and goals. This knowledge enables them to select viable candidates. Culture is a central part of what will make an individual an integral and thriving part of an organization. Dr. Fennell points out, “You can not play baseball in hockey gear. If you did the job for Johnson and Johnson you may not fit in Pizza Hut or at Little Compton University. Using Johnson and Johnson's products does not show you the culture or the tradition.”

  3. They know people. The best candidates for your position may not be looking for a job. Dr. Fennell notes that executive search firms have a developed network of competent professionals and an understanding of what their unique strengths are: “An executive search firm has the connections to find people who might be a good fit.”

  4. They’re not going anywhere. They’re in it for the long haul. Dr. Fennell explains, “Executive search firms guide the responsible hiring person(s) throughout every phase of the search process.” And their job isn’t done when the position is filled—they stick around to help both the individual and college in the transition.

According to Dr. Fennell, an executive search firm results in a better placement for all involved: “When you partner with an Executive Search Firm, you are choosing to form a relationship to find a person who is a fit, not just someone to fill up the space! Anyone can find you ten or twenty people who have some of what you are looking for. Executive search firms don’t just fill positions, they work for a successful outcome.”