Executive search firms are companies that specialize in finding and placing senior-level executives, usually in upper management positions. Their roles include candidate sourcing, assessment, placement, and managing the entire recruitment process on behalf of their clients, which commonly include nonprofit organizations.
In addition to these main roles, executive search firms often provide additional services such as market mapping, salary benchmarking, and reference checks. They may also involve themselves in coaching and succession planning.
The main benefit of working with an executive search firm is access to a larger pool of candidates than what may be available through traditional means such as advertising or word-of-mouth. Executive search firms typically have relationships with industry leaders and can tap into their networks to source high-quality candidates.
Other benefits nonpropfits can get from working with NFP executive recruiters include (and are not limited to):
Many executive search firms offer expertise in a particular field of recruiting, such as healthcare. This can be helpful for nonprofit organizations without an in-house recruitment team with specific industry knowledge.
Most commonly, executive search firms charge either a percentage of the first-year salary for the placement or a flat fee. Some firms will ask for a retainer fee, offering a complete package of services in return. In this scenario, organizations must commit to paying the retainer regardless of whether a placement is made.
Other firms work on a contingency basis, meaning they get paid only if they are successful in finding a candidate who is hired by the client. In this case, the fee is typically a percentage of the first-year salary for the placement.
When you’re considering an executive search firm specializing in placing NFP C-suite professionals, it’s important to research its industry specialization and reputation. Make sure to ask about its success rate and average time to placement. It is also important to inquire about its confidentiality policy and its plan to protect your company’s information during the search process.
Additionally, you will want to ensure that you are comfortable with the firm’s billing structure. Be clear about what fees you will be responsible for and when they are due.
Before deciding to work with an executive search firm, your organization should assess its needs and capabilities. Ask yourself if you have the internal resources to conduct a search on your own, and if not, what type of assistance you will need.
Additionally, consider your budget for the project and how much you are willing to pay for a successful placement.
Once you understand your needs, you can begin researching executive search firms that specialize in your industry or function. Make sure to ask for references from companies that have used the firm’s services in the past.
Once you have narrowed down your options, request proposals from each of the firms on your short list and compare their fees, services, and expertise.
There are many executive search firms to choose from, so it is important to narrow down your options before requesting proposals. Try to create a short list of no more than five firms that specialize in your industry or function.
To create your short list, you can ask for recommendations from colleagues or other companies in your industry. Once you have found a few firms that look promising, check their websites and read through their client testimonials to get a better sense of their work and philosophies.
After you have selected the executive search firms you would like to learn more about, reach out and request proposals from each.
In your request, make sure to include information about your nonprofit organization, the type of position you are looking to fill, and what kind of assistance you need from the firm. It may also be helpful to provide a timeline for the project and an overview of your budget.
Once you have received the proposals, take some time to review them carefully and compare the services offered by each firm. Pay close attention to the fees they charge and their experience with projects similar to yours.
Also, make sure to ask each firm about its confidentiality policy and its plan to protect your company’s information during the search process. After considering all of these factors, you should be able to select the executive search firm that is right for your organization.
Before starting to work with an executive search firm, it is important to get everything in writing. This includes information about their fees, services, confidentiality policy, and expected timeline for the project. This information in writing will help protect your company’s interests and ensure everyone is on the same page from the start.
Once you have found a firm that seems like a potential fit, the first step is an initial consultation to discuss the company’s specific needs. From there, the firm will develop a recruiting plan and start sourcing candidates.
After conducting initial screenings and interviews, the firm will present you with a short list of qualified candidates. You then have the opportunity to interview the candidates and make a decision about who to hire.
You may be wondering how to best work with executive search firms as a nonprofit organization. After all, many firms specialize in for-profit companies, and you may not have the same budget to work with. However, working with executive search firms is still a way to maximize your potential.
Consider your needs as an organization and be clear about what type of assistance you need. Ask for references and compare the services offered by each firm. By taking these steps, you can ensure that you get the most out of your relationship with an executive search firm.
Few executive search firms have experience at the billion+ level like Cowen Partners. Our hands-on non-profit executive recruiters and NFP C-suite headhunters have deep experience working with local, national, and international organizations, foundations, billion+ asset credit unions and foundations, and mission driven NGO’s. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief of Staff, and include VP Human Resources, general counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.
Cowen Partners delivers 3X more qualified candidates than the competition. Through our proven retained executive search process, our non-profit executive recruiters find, vet, and deliver the top 1% of candidates for positions across the C-suite. Our process works for all industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, real estate, financial service, private equity, and more.
Learn how our elite non-profit executive search team delivers top talent, no matter the need, via our industry-leading research and resources. Discover the innovative strategy that made Cowen Partners the top non-profit executive search firm in New York, Philadelphia, Anchorage, Boston, Miami, Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis, Boise, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and beyond.