Helbling Insight

How To Find Executive Search Firms & Consultants

by Sami Barry

As executive search consultants who focus within specific sectors (architecture, engineering, construction, facilities management, and real estate development), we are familiar with the various ways to find specialized search firms. But, for those professionals who aren't involved in the realm of executive search, it can be challenging to find search firms and consultants with particular industry knowledge and experience.

Prior to outlining our recommendations for identifying these companies and professionals, it should be noted that, if you are in the market for a search firm as a candidate or a client, we strongly suggest you reach out to firms and consultants who concentrate in your sector because, when compared to generalist firms, they will likely have strong understandings of their industries and large networks of pertinent contacts, which will directly correlate to their search abilities. 

Recommendations for finding specialized executive search firms and consultants

1.  Industry colleagues

The most effective and efficient way to find any professional services firm is to simply ask colleagues and acquaintances in your industry for recommendations. After all, what can be better than asking people who you trust, who they trust?

2.  Management consulting firms within your industry

Many times, management consulting firms that specialize within certain sectors will have connections with or knowledge of well-respected executive search firms in the same industries. Within our core sectors, these organizations include:

FMI Corporationwww.fminet.com

FMI is the largest provider of management consulting and investment banking for the engineering and construction industry.

Performance Resource Partnerswww.prpconsultants.com

PRP is based in Holbrook, MA and represents prominent universities, hospitals, cultural institutions, and corporate clients. 

Sightlines Facilities Assets Advisors - www.sightlines.com

With offices in PA, CT, and OR, Sightlines assists universities to better manage their facilities investments. They provide independent analyses of campus facilities, including consistent measurement protocols and competitive benchmarking.

Trascent Management Consulting – www.trascent.com

Trascent’s U.S. headquarters are in Summit, NJ. The firm operates internationally and specializes in real estate and facilities management. Its capabilities span from operational improvement and optimization to technology strategy and enablement.

3.  Consult your preferred search engine

Our favorite search engine is Google but everyone has their preferences. As we have found with our own research, it's best to try different keyword combinations and sequences to determine which generate the most accurate results. The more specific you are, the better - because you want to narrow the firms to only those that fit your needs. Try something like:

  • Industry + "executive search" (i.e. construction executive search)

  • Industry + "retained" or "contingency" (choose one) "executive search"

  • Industry + "executive search consultants"

  • "Search firms in" + industry

Since the majority of our readers are involved in A/E/C, facilities management, or real estate development, some examples of keyword combinations are:

  • "facilities management executive search firms"

  • "construction executive search firms"

  • "hospital facilities executive search firms"

  • "hospital construction executive search firms"

  • “university construction executive search consultants”

If you're only looking for retained executive search firms, try:

  • “construction retained executive search”

  • “facilities management retained executive search”

  • “architecture retained executive search”

Some users search actual role titles and then "search firm", which we do not recommend because it can generate an enormous amount of results (mostly job openings) to sift through, making the process inefficient.

4.  Search Consultant / Recruiter directories


Designed for professionals involved in any function within the educational sector. You can find a directory of search firms under the Additional Resources tab.


Allows users to post jobs, find jobs, and identify executive search firms.


Offers career tools for those involved in higher education, and the ability to search jobs and find search firms by entering www.higheredjobs.com/career/SiteListings.cfm in your browser.

Hunt Scanlon's Industry Media Center - huntscanlon.com/industry-media-center

Hunt Scanlon Media launched its Industry Media Center to address the need for an online directory of specialized executive search firms. Its site provides functionality to search by geographical region, services provided (beyond executive search), job function, and industry specialization. *The site only includes search firms that have paid to be listed.


This site is owned and operated by Kennedy Information, a company serving the executive search profession since 1971. While their service at myresumeagent.com has a fee, they are highly networked in the executive search sector and they organize their executive search consultants by location, industry, and function. Therefore, you receive a highly focused list of search consultants who can assist you.  


Allows visitors to filter search consultants / recruiters by their specialties, search models, locations, and keywords. Site is owned and operated by Cluen, a reputable player in the recruiter software realm.


While leveraging the above techniques will certainly help you to find executive search firms and consultants who understand your industry and are well connected within it, prior to engaging a firm, we recommend you perform due diligence in making sure it has a positive reputation and strong track record. We suggest thoroughly reviewing its website (is it mobile-friendly and comprehensive, does it provide case studies, etc.), contacting the company's professional references, and reviewing consultants' LinkedIn and other social media profiles.

For more information on selecting an executive search firm, download our complete eBook below.