A Beginner’s guide to working in an Executive Search Firm

Executive search firms recruit for senior roles for their clients – most often professional service firms or large companies. Executive search is a good career option for candidates who desire work-life balance and possess strong verbal and social skills. Candidates applying for executive search jobs build a solid personal network as this profession requires networking and maintaining relationships. 

There are two significant ways into this career

  1. After completing a degree in almost any domain, you can apply for the researcher role in large firms.
  2. You can apply for higher roles if you have experience in recruitment, sales or marketing, or an MBA. You can also jump to more elevated positions by taking advantage of the specific industry knowledge you have gained. 

What are the job responsibilities?

It is among the best-paid jobs in human resources and recruitment. Following are its job responsibilities. 

  1. Collect and build a database of industry professionals who are open to roles in other companies. 
  2. Meet those people and create relationships. 
  3. Convince them to interview for positions that the recruiter is currently offering. 

What is the growth structure?

The executive search company is often paid in advance to complete the work or via a commission for successfully hiring and placing candidates. The career progress within the industry is as follows.

Research Associate 

Research associates assist consultants and associates in providing information and data essential for completing the research phase. This includes talking to the potential candidates, generating bio-data, and gaining industry knowledge. Researchers gather valuable information about candidates to help devise the future contact strategy. 


Associates perform similar activities as research associates but handle actively maintaining relationships with clients. They screen potential applicants according to the client’s hiring guidelines. If you have experience in recruitment, you can enter at this level. 


Consultants perform all the search process activities such as taking clients’ requirements, market analysis, interviewing, assessing candidates, helping with negotiation, and recruiting selected candidates. The consultant role also involves active business development with the clients.

Directors/partners/other management

Partners/other management manage consultants and leverage their relationships and experience to generate new business. 

Advantages of working in an executive search firm


The annual salary of an executive recruiter ranges between $83,992 and $117,119. However, the remuneration can vary depending on education, experience, certification, and skills. As payment is partly on bonuses and commissions, an employee who performs well is likely to receive higher compensation than their colleagues. 

Job satisfaction

Job satisfaction will depend on specific criteria such as work-life balance and completing tasks like successfully hiring a candidate. You are likely to have a variety of functions and a middle level of autonomy. If you can recruit candidates and bill clients, you can be given the freedom to manage your own time. 

Ease of competition

As executive search jobs demand a specific set of skills, such as verbal and social competency, it is easier to enter than most professions like finance, marketing, or consultation.

Who is suited to this job?

It is a reasonable option for people who:

  1. Possess stronger verbal and social skills than quantitative skills.
  2. Want a less competitive job than other professions.
  3. Are comfortable socializing with highly qualified professionals.

About us

Recruiting candidates at senior-level positions can be an arduous task. Tower Hunter is a national reclaimed search firm having the first-hand experience in recruiting the highest quality leaders. Our expert research team is committed to finding the brightest candidates for top-level positions. You can contact us at ‌ssmith@towerhunter.com‌ or ‌pbuckley@towerhunter.com for more information.