The Search Process

Each higher education search, like each institution and its needs, is unique. Nevertheless, there are elements common to most successful searches in terms of basic organization and process. Almost all searches include the following stages, briefly described as follows:

  • Preparation
    • Preparation is the first stage of the search process: it entails organizing the search committee and the search calendar, planning all outreach to constituencies and developing appropriate recruiting documents and strategies.
    • Getting to know your institution is a key part of this stage of the search: to define the skills and attributes needed in the leader you seek, your search firm should work closely with you to understand your institution's unique situation and character by reaching out to all constituencies who have a stake in this search.
    • The end product of the preparation stage is a position description that accurately describes both your institution and the traits and attributes you seek in a leader.
  • Recruitment
    • The goal of the recruitment stage of a search is to develop and recruit a varied and diverse pool of highly qualified candidates. The search firm you hire should reach out proactively, drawing on its professional network, to identify individuals who are excellent matches for the committee’s desired criteria. A superior search firm will recruit prospects who are not already looking for new positions and bring in talented individuals who would never see or respond to an advertisement.
    • Ideally, your search firm will make all candidate information available to you on a central search portal, so that everyone on the search committee has full access to complete information.
    • The end product of the recruitment stage is a list of highly qualified candidates representing a wide range of profiles and relevant experience.
  • Evaluation
    • At the evaluation stage, search committee members begin to narrow the pool of candidates through interviews and referencing.
    • Your search firm will help manage all aspects of candidate interviews and will optimize the process to be efficient, discreet, productive and engaging for all involved.
    • Following the interviews, the search firm will coordinate a thorough referencing process that allows committee members access to a new level of information, both positive and negative, about the candidates. We strongly encourage thorough and extensive referencing, and we also recommend that committee members be directly involved in the referencing.
  • Selection and Negotiation
    • In the selection phase of the search, your search firm will typically assist the hiring authority in understanding the compensation and relocation issues most important to the final candidates and help the client shape the most compelling offer possible for the chosen candidate. Your search firm can also help advise on the rollout of the announcement.

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