Search firms are hired by organizations that want to maximize their chances of finding the best possible candidate to fill a key position. Because a change in leadership presents challenges to any organization, the assistance of a consultant at the time of a search can be beneficial in many ways.

For example, a search consultant will help define the needs and requirements of the position, and through this process, will help build consensus for the profile and support for the search within the organization. Administrators, faculty, clients, and other constituents may feel uneasy about the upcoming changes in leadership and may be critical of the search process as a result.

A consultant can mitigate this potential discontent by helping to plan an inclusive search strategy that gains the support of the organization, while protecting the confidentiality of the candidates. A consultant uses networking to publicize the position, and to build a broader and deeper pool of candidates than could be accessed through advertising alone. This is important in finding the best possible candidates for any search, but it is especially useful in certain cases. When an organization is not well known, is located in an area that does not usually draw many candidates, or has recently had negative publicity, a consultant’s networking is critical to communicating positive messages about the organization to the field and to recruiting candidates who otherwise would not have applied. Throughout the search, a consultant will help to ensure that the public and private activities related to the search reflect well on the reputation of the client organization.

Search consultants generally improve the quality of the process and the outcome of a recruitment. However, for some organizations, an equally important issue is the time it takes to conduct a search. Consultants can take over a significant part of the burden of the work of a search, freeing members of their client organizations to focus on core responsibilities.