Everything you need to know before starting a Career in Executive Search

26th September 2021

As the Executive Search market is peaking again, there are plenty of exciting opportunities to enter the industry. Whether you’re actively considering a career in Executive Search or would like to find out more about the market, we’ve prepared an ultimate list of things you need to know before making your next move.

What is Executive Search?

Executive Search is a highly specialised type of recruitment aimed at attracting top skilled senior management within large organisations. Executive Search professionals apply highly sophisticated search methodologies to find the best talent for strategically important roles, such as CEO, CFO or HRD.

While contingent recruiters focus on placing as many candidates as possible in the shortest time possible, Executive Search professionals work on an exclusive, client-centred basis and are paid upfront to find the very best talent for an organisation.

In our previous article, we explored the Executive Search business model, methodology and types of assignments in more detail as well as explained five key differences between Executive Search and contingency recruitment.


What are the Typical Roles in Executive Search?

Executive Search offers clear career progression opportunities – if you’re successful, you can quickly work your way up to the Partner level. The progression within the industry is usually the following:

Research Associate

Research Associates support Associates and Consultants by providing information during the research phase of the Executive Search process. They contact sources and potential candidates and generate knowledge of the industry. Typically, you spend in this role 1-3 years.


Associates have similar responsibilities to Research Associates, but they take a more active role in managing relationships with clients and screening potential candidates. You can enter Executive Search at this level if you have previous relevant experience. A typical time in this role is 5 years.


Consultants are responsible for the full management of the search process. Their role includes taking requirements of the client’s market analysis, interviewing, assessment, and presentation of candidates and help with negotiations.

Partner, Directors and Other Management

These more senior roles in Executive Search firms manage consultants and use their experience and networks to generate new business opportunities. Some Executive Search staff start their own smaller businesses leveraging the connections they have.


Why work in Executive Search?

Competitive Salaries

It’s not a secret that roles in Executive Search are the best-paid jobs in the staffing industry, which makes it a lucrative profession. Would working on a fee size of £100,000 pique your interest? The competitive salaries are paired with extremely rewarding benefits packages.

Networking Aspects

Pursuing a career in Executive Search gives you a unique opportunity to build a strong personal network. You connect with senior-level people (CEOs, directors, senior managers) and gain exposure to working on international mandates.

Work-life Balance

Executive Search has reasonable working hours, especially in comparison to other professional services such as finance. Post-pandemic, even after coming back to the office full-time, more and more companies offer flexible working hours and remote working.

Job Satisfaction

A role in Executive Search links to a clear sense of task completion, relatively high level of autonomy and variety of tasks. Social interaction is rewarding, the job itself is suitable challenging and being paid for results is extremely motivating.

The Impact You Can Have

The mandates you work on are crucial to your client success as introducing new senior-level leadership significantly changes the landscape of the company. Not to mention the impact you can have on somebody’s life by placing them into their dream position!


How Can I Make a Move to Executive Search?

At Carlin Hall, we’re always happy to speak to people interested in pursuing a career in Executive Search. If you have a strong academic background and sound social and networking skills, we would love to assist you in finding your dream role.

We work with all five top Executive Search firms and 25 out of 30 top Executive Search Firms in London as well as specialist boutique firms. This extensive network gives us access to plenty of opportunities in the Executive Search job market. We operate across all sectors and focus on all levels, from Research Associate to Partner, meaning we can find the perfect job opportunity just for you.

Check out our latest vacancies in Executive Search or get in touch to discuss how we can assist you in your next career move