Frequently Asked Questions

Executive Search FAQs


It is only natural to have questions — a lot of them — as you explore how best to fill an important senior executive opening. Well, you’ve come to the right place.  We answer executive search FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about retained search, executive recruiting, diversity recruitment, and succession benches. 

The Good Search offers technology executive search services that you can’t find anywhere else. We outperform traditional retained executive search firms by making search smarter and giving you more. Our research-driven approach helps us delivers best-of-the-best talent that others miss.

If you have additional questions not answered here, please reach out and we are happy to have a more detailed conversation about what we do and how we can help.

Got Search?

The Good Search really listened to our needs and then engaged their team in a full investigative process to ensure we got a pool of the best possible candidates . . .


Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the executive search process?

The executive search process begins with client intake. The retained executive search firm consults with the client to develop and refine the position description and ideal candidate profile. In doing so, the search firm sets a search strategy in partnership with the client. Next, the executive search firm builds a list of target companies and identifies potential candidates at those targets. The firm then recruits candidates, develops a slate of finalists, positions the offer, assists in closing the candidate, checks references, and stays in touch through onboarding.

What is the difference between retained search and contingency search?

The primary difference between a retained search and a contingency search is that a contingency search firm is only paid if they make a placement. Contingency firms often conduct search assignments on a non-exclusive basis. And, with no guarantee of payment for services performed and no budget for research, contingency firms may abandon difficult searches and leave positions unfilled.

Retained search firms conduct search assignments on an exclusive, retainer contract basis only. Retained search firms are paid a retainer to do the work of executive search: consulting with the client about what qualities you need in an ideal candidate, identifying prospects, recruiting them, positioning offers, and helping close the candidate through onboarding. Often, retained search firms invest time in getting to know the client organization, position responsibility, and all requirements before initiating a search.

To learn more, check out our Differences Between Retained and Contingency Search Page. 

What is a technology executive search firm?

A technology executive search firm is a search firm that specializes in recruiting technical or engineering leadership for roles. These roles may include Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Information Security Officer, and Chief Product Officer. Technology search firms recruit technology executives for technology companies and for clients in other industries where business intersects with technology. So, as an example, technology executive search firms may also recruit genomics talent for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. The technology search firm sector expertise usually includes cloud software, cloud platforms, cybersecurity, identity and access management, eCommerce, data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

What’s your geographic focus?

The Good Search is a Connecticut-based executive search firm that conducts searches on the East Coast, West Coast, and at every tech hub in between.

On the East Coast, we serve the Greater NYC Area, including Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, and the Greater Boston Area. On the West Coast, we have regularly and consistently done work in the Greater Seattle Area, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco. In between, we identify and recruit candidates at companies across the United States and Canada, including in Austin, Chicago, Denver, Raleigh-Durham, and Washington D.C. 

To learn more about our global reach, check out our Locations Page. 

What are your industry sector specialties?

The Good Search specializes in technology executive recruitment. Our technological expertise includes Cloud, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and Cybersecurity. We also work in tech-adjacent industries, including Pharmaceuticals (Pharma), Biotechnology (Biotech), Financial technology (Fintech), e-Commerce, EdTech, HealthTech, as well as technology used in travel and hospitality. In other words, The Good Search stands at the intersection of business with technology.

To learn about the industries we serve, check out our Industry Sectors Page. 

What are the levels of your executive searches?

We typically work on C-level or CXO executive searches down to Vice President. So, for example, we conduct CTO, CIO, CISO searches as well as searches for Chief Architects. Additionally, we work on Executive Vice President (EVP), Senior Vice President (SVP), and Vice President (VP) levels. We recruit to equivalent leadership levels such a General Managers, Managing Directors, and Managing Partners.

To learn more, check out our Functions Page.

What is the retained executive search timeline?

Week 1: We kick off every engagement with a Zoom meeting, gathering details critical to a search engagement’s success such as must-have and nice-to-have requirements, target companies, and off-limits companies. We also discuss search strategy.

Week 2: We deliver an initial list of prospective candidates and invite feedback from our client to prioritize outreach and to ensure we’re all on the same page.  We also initiate outreach and present candidates as they are developed.

Week 2+: Time-to-hire varies depending on the client’s interview and decision-making process. We usually present the winning candidate the first or second month of a retained search engagement. We have closed searches in as little as two weeks.

What is your executive search success rate?

The Good Search has a 100% success rate. We have been in business for 20+ years and have never failed to fill a role. We have had searches go away/or be put on pause while the CEO deals with other things, such as a proxy fight, but The Good Search has never given up on an engagement. And you shouldn’t have to settle for less than a 100% success rate. Across the executive search industry, an average of 40% of all retained search engagements fail to complete. What these other firms lack is the investigative research expertise we use to reach far beyond the standard retained search firm networks to access the best and brightest executive candidates.

How much does an Executive Search cost?

Most traditional retained search firms charge a percentage fee ranging from 30-33% of the candidate’s first-year total cash compensation, which includes the base salary, signing bonus, and any other projected bonuses. Moreover, they usually tack on expenses on top of that, adding another ~5%. This percentage-based pricing is a conflict of interest; it enables search firms to benefit from negotiating higher salaries for the candidates they place than what those executives would have accepted. They also charge another fee if you hire a 2nd candidate from a retained search into a different role.

By contrast, The Good Search charges a flat fee based on the estimated work involved. So you will know exactly how much a search is going to cost before it starts. We also hand over all of the research so you can make additional hires for no additional cost.

To learn more, check out our Retained Search Fees Page.

Does you have your own database of candidates?

Yes. The Good Search has a database of more than 75-thousand passive candidates that we continually update. We build out the information through extensive executive talent mapping of major technology companies as well as leading Fortune 500 companies. Of course, we still conduct fresh research for every engagement and tailor it to each client’s needs and preferences. We want to make sure we’ve given you the most up-to-date information about top-performing prospects.

What is Dunbar's Number and Why is it Important for Search Firm Selection?

According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, there is a set limit on the number of friends and acquaintances the average person can retain. That “magic number” is 150 meaningful contacts. 

Why does this matter to executive recruiting? Many traditional retained search firms claim to know everyone in the business. But according to Dunbar’s Number, that is impossible. A good executive recruiter knows how to leverage the relationships that they have to meet new people and uncover executive candidates.

Not quite ready for retained executive search?

Our research division Intellerati partners with corporate recruiting and sourcing teams and gives you the opportunity to save.