Our Approach to Search

The Isaacson, Miller search process is simple but disciplined. We explain it in detail to our clients, adapt it to their requirements, and ask them to join us as partners in its implementation. Each step is shaped by our commitment to recruit exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations and our attention to the craft of search.

We typically divide our work into five phases:


the Challenge

We begin each search by asking a deceptively modest question: "How will you know that you chose the right person?"

As we explore and define measures of success, we spend a considerable amount of time learning about the history and culture of our client organization: identifying implicit values, standards, strategic goals, and aspirations for their new hire.

The resulting written challenge statement simply and clearly states what makes this position compelling, what success in the role would look like, and what qualities an ideal candidate would possess.

This process confirms with our client that we share an understanding of the complexities of the assignment.


& Screening

Building a qualified candidate pool requires judgment, creativity, and experience. We recruit carefully and broadly, looking for analogous experience, technical competence, and a clear passion for our client's mission. We protect confidentiality, and take particu-lar care to keep candidates apprised of their status.

While our growing database of roughly 300,000 individuals provides one basis for our canvassing, we  actively solicit our clients' suggestions while conduct-ing extensive research to develop additional leads. Underlying every search is our longstanding commit-ment to recruit qualified women and people of color.



the Field

Through personal conversations and biographical interviews we trace a person's career, learning about accomplishments in each successive role, discoveries from mistakes made along the way, how results were measured, and most importantly, what actions and ideas were essential to success.

We treat our conclusions as hypotheses that we test further through extensive interviews and intensive references. We look for the fit between what a candidate encountered in the past and the challenges of the role under consideration.



As our client prepares to interview semi-finalists, we review together the challenges of the position as originally outlined as well as the candidate backgrounds. We help structure the candidate review, offering guidance on both the substance and logistics of the interview process, and making recommendations upon the client's request.

When finalists are invited back for a second round of interviews, we help to structure their visits to provide an opportunity both for the candidates to learn more about the organization and the position, and for our client to get a deeper look at the candidates.

... & Checking


The extensive screening and interview process is complemented by the due diligence we conduct through referencing and background checks. We believe references are just as important as a candidate's performance in a series of interviews, and as candidates move through their final interviews, we begin an intensive and thorough process of checking references. We do not solicit letters of recommendation. Instead, we speak directly with current and former bosses, peers, and subordinates asking questions and eliciting responses on themes we have previously explored. We document these lengthy conversations in a transcript style report that provides many pages of commentary on each finalist.

The Final


A good search can be difficult to close. Making the final choice can be complex when there are three or four strong candidates whose strengths and weaknesses are known in detail. We remain active through this phase of the search, helping our client make a well-informed decision and staying in close contact with the finalists to address any concerns.

We are often asked to play a role in the contract negotiations between our client and the candidate. Although we do not provide legal advice, we can help think through compensation packages and advise on relocation and family considerations. Our goal is to help our client make the best hire possible.