The role of the Research Associate in Executive Search

28th March 2022

The position of Research Associate is one of the most common ways to enter the Executive Search Industry. While it might seem to be just an entry-level position the Researcher plays a key and integral role throughout the Executive Search process. As such, the position gives you a perfect opportunity to master the principles of the Search Process that are essential to progress in the industry.  

Unlike Candidate Resourcer in Contingent Recruitment, Research Associate supports a team that works on a fully retained basis. They work with candidates who operate at the C-level and Board and who are in high pay brackets. In our previous article, we explained more about the key differences between Executive Search and Contingent Recruitment.

While the role of the Researcher will differ depending on the firm’s size and the industry sector, we have prepared a comprehensive overview of the position to give you an insight into what you can expect when entering the Executive Search industry.


What does a Research Associate do?  

Research Associates are at the forefront of the successful Executive Search process laying the critical groundwork of planning the search and setting the strategy. Using their knowledge of the client mandate, industry expertise and previous experience, they identify the target companies that are most likely to have qualified candidates. Research Associates are often compared to ambassadors – they represent the Executive Search firm they work for, the clients and the candidates. Importantly, a Research Associate is also the first person a prospective candidate speaks to.  


The Role Under Scrutiny: Daily Responsibilities of the Researcher 

Once we have an overview of the position, it is time to have a look at the everyday aspects of the role. Research Associates’ responsibilities include conducting company and candidate research and analyzing information to develop insights and business intelligence. They identify potential candidates, build out their profiles in the database and verify the information to provide a bank of ready, valuable candidates. This is a very detail-oriented role that requires in-depth analysis. That is why their working environment is often compared to a library. The Research Associate is expected to develop a thorough understanding of the candidate even before they speak to them. They gather detailed information about the candidate’s qualifications and experience and take time to understand their motives and drivers to match them with the right role with precision.  

A Research Associate also participates in client briefings with the Partner to gain a comprehensive understanding of the client company and their requirements. They assist in short-listing and long-listing and attend candidate interviews. They support the Consultants in growing the business by building relationships with industry experts and cultivating prospective clients. They develop knowledge of how clients operate and how companies are structured, for instance, what the reporting relationships are. Finally, Research Associates speak with referral sources to build their network and find the right candidates. The role has a strong focus on relationship building, and thus, a Research Associate needs to be comfortable networking with people in senior positions and, ideally, have a strong academic background that matches the sector they operate in.  


Research Associate and Career Progression Opportunities 

Most typically, Research Associates work their way up on the Executive Search ladder deepening their expertise, broadening their exposure, and building their professional network. Usually, they stay in this role from one to three years before reaching the next level as this time is required to master the fundamentals of the Executive Search profession. Next, they move on to Associate and Consultant roles to eventually become a Partner or Director. Alternatively, some people choose to remain on the Researcher’s path and become true experts in their field.  


Secure your Next Role in Executive Search  

Does the position of Research Associate sound like a career you would be interested in? Our experienced Consultants are more than happy to assist you in securing an exciting position with a lucrative salary package. Carlin Hall works with 25 of the top 30 best Executive Search firms in London, including SHREK firms as well as smaller specialist boutiques. Our extensive client base and presence in all industry sectors can give you access to a variety of Research Associate roles.  

Check out our latest vacancies and get in touch to find out how we can help you make your next career move.