Hiring a New Executive Leader?

 In Foundations, Resources

More and more libraries and library foundations are looking to search firms to help them through the process of hiring a new library director or foundation executive director. There are a number of reasons for this…

  • The process is very time consuming.
  • Executive searches often require skills beyond those of Library or Foundation board members.
  • Recruiting qualified candidates requires skills and knowledge of the library community and its leaders (both current and emerging).
  • An executive search consultant can move through the process with objectivity and access to qualified candidates.

Executive searches are one of the most important activities that a library organization may conduct because finding a good leader is essential to the future of the library or the foundation.  There are four critical elements to conducting a successful executive search. These are the elements that Library Strategies includes in its searches.

  1. Listening and learning from staff, Board members, and other key stakeholders before the search begins.
  2. Working with a strong, representative search committee.
  3. Understanding the library or the foundation’s culture. This entails learning about the nuances of the organization’s executive needs beyond the job description.
  4. Conducting a search that is built on communication throughout the process.

To be successful, our search process is divided into distinct phases.

Phase 1:  Pre-Search. This phase focuses on information gathering. It entails meeting with the search committee to establish tasks, responsibilities and a timeline for the process. A typical search process usually takes three to four months to complete. Some executive searches include a survey of staff and board members to gather feedback on what is really important to identify in a new leader of the organization. Based on the information gathering, a job description is developed with a salary and benefits package.

Phase 2:  Recruiting Candidates. In this phase, Library Strategies both advertises the position through a variety of channels and recruits qualified candidates from the library community and encourages them to apply for the position. This is a unique benefit that Library Strategies can bring to a search process as our consultants have a broad network of individuals throughout the library world. We often encourage staff and Board members to suggest potential candidates, but our consultants reach out to the individuals who may be recommended.

Phase 3:  Vetting Candidates. Library Strategies reads and considers each resume that is submitted and vets the candidate according to the job description. Next, our consultant narrows the search to include 7-10 candidates who will be invited to participate in phone interviews.

Phase 4:  Completing the Search. Library Strategies conducts phone interviews with the chosen candidates. These interviews generally last 45 minutes to an hour, or sometimes more more.  The candidates are asked to expand on their experience and share their strengths and their perspectives on the executive position being offered. This first round of interviews focuses specifically on the candidates themselves. Following these interviews, our consultant presents a slate of 3-4 candidates to be interviewed by the Search Committee.

Our consultant shapes the questions for this next round of interviews. These questions are designed to elicit information about how the candidate would fit into the library or the foundation’s culture – beyond their specific skill set or experience. Following these interviews, the Search Committee usually presents two final candidates to the Board for final selection.

Library Strategies can help the Board create an offer to the chosen candidates and conduct reference checks.

Library Strategies’ search process is one that is shaped by internal stakeholders and conducted with the broadest network so that the end result is a fit that’s great for the organization and the new executive.

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