4 Essentials Your Next School Executive Hire’s Resume Should Have — Best Executive Recruiting Firms Near You

Affirmative action has long played a pivotal role in ensuring diverse and inclusive student bodies. However, the absence of such policies can have a profound impact on admissions staffing and processes, as evidenced by insights from executive recruiting firms.  Selecting the perfect school executive is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact the future of your educational institution. To navigate this pivotal hiring process, trusted executive recruiting firms in Pennsylvania stand as expert guides, specializing in identifying top-tier talent. With their extensive experience and industry-specific knowledge, these firms provide invaluable insights into what your next school executive hire's resume should feature.

1. Work Experience

When hiring top executives for educational institutions, the significance of relevant work experience cannot be overstated. Trusted executive recruiting firms in Pennsylvania play a crucial role in finding the best talent for these important positions. They have a knack for identifying individuals who look impressive on paper and possess the practical experience to back up their qualifications. Expert executive recruiting firms use a comprehensive approach when evaluating candidates, and one of the key factors they consider is a candidate's work history. However, it's not just any work experience that counts; it needs to be directly related to the specific role in question.

Why Do Recruiting Firms Prioritize Relevant Experience?

Expert executive recruiting firms place a high premium on relevant experience simply because it's one of the best indicators of a candidate's ability to perform in a new role. For instance, a candidate who has successfully led a school through a significant change is likelier to replicate that success in a unique setting. This is especially true in Pennsylvania, where educational standards and community expectations can vary widely from one district to another. How to Work with Executive Recruiters

Risk of Overlooking Relevant Experience

Ignoring the importance of relevant experience is a mistake that hiring committees often need to be more mindful of. Trusted executive recruiting firms have countless stories of organizations that opted for candidates with impressive resumes but lacked the specific expertise required for the role. These hires often need help to adapt to the unique challenges of educational leadership, leading to decreased performance and, in some cases, premature departure from the role.

How Executive Recruiting Firms Evaluate Experience

Trusted executive recruiting firms use various methods to assess a candidate's experience. These may include in-depth interviews, reference checks, and even situational analysis exercises designed to simulate the role's challenges. The aim is to go beyond what's written on the resume and get a real sense of how the candidate performs in a work setting.  

Table: Types of Relevant Experience

Experience Type Importance
School Leadership High
Curriculum Development Medium
Community Outreach Low

School Leadership

When trusted executive recruiting firms like Greenwood Asher & Associates look at a candidate's resume, school leadership roles are often the most heavily weighted. Positions like Principal, Vice Principal, or Department Head provide valuable experience managing staff, setting educational goals, and interacting with the community.

Curriculum Development

Another area that trusted executive recruiting firms pay close attention to is curriculum development. Experience in this area shows that the candidate deeply understands educational content and the skills needed to implement it effectively.

Community Outreach

While not as critical as other types of experience, community outreach still plays a role in the evaluation process used by trusted executive recruiting firms. Experience in this area indicates that the candidate understands the importance of building strong relationships with parents, local businesses, and other stakeholders.

2. Education

One of the critical metrics trusted executive recruiting firms use to evaluate potential hires is their educational background. But it's not just about having a degree; it's about having the right degree for the role.

Why Recruiting Firms Emphasize Advanced Degrees

Executive recruiting firms understand that the complexities of educational leadership require a deep understanding of both theory and practice. Advanced degrees, such as a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership or a Master's in Education, offer candidates the theoretical foundation they need to navigate the challenges of modern education. This is particularly true in Pennsylvania, where educational standards are demanding and intricate.   In addition to advanced degrees, trusted executive recruiting firms also value specialized training and certifications. For example, a candidate with a certificate in Special Education Leadership has a broad understanding of educational leadership and technical knowledge that can be invaluable in specific settings.

How Recruiting Firms Evaluate Educational Qualifications

When experienced executive recruiting firms assess a candidate's educational background, they look beyond the name of the degree. They delve into the courses, research, and even the professors the candidate has studied under. This comprehensive approach ensures the candidate's educational experience aligns well with the institution's needs.

The Debate Over Traditional vs. Online Degrees

Online Education has gained significant traction recently, and experienced executive recruiting firms have adapted to this change. While traditional degrees are still highly valued, many firms are open to candidates with online degrees, provided they come from accredited institutions and offer a rigorous curriculum.

Lifelong Learning and Professional Development

Proficient executive recruiting firms also appreciate candidates who commit to lifelong learning and professional development. Whether it's additional certifications, online courses, or participation in educational seminars, continuous learning is a trait that is highly valued in academic leadership roles.

Role of Internships and Fellowships

Practical experience from internships and fellowships can also add significant value to a candidate's profile. Proficient executive recruiting firms often look for candidates who have supplemented their academic expertise with real-world exposure to educational leadership.

Future of Educational Qualifications

As the educational landscape continues to evolve, so do the qualifications that are considered valuable. Proficient executive recruiting firms continually update their criteria to reflect these changes, ensuring they recommend highly qualified candidates relevant to the current educational environment.

3. Skills, Knowledge, and Competencies

Proficient executive recruiting firms often serve as the arbiters of what skills are most valued in potential hires. One of the critical insights these firms offer is the importance of a balanced skill set. While hard skills like budget management and curriculum planning are crucial, soft skills like communication and empathy are equally important.

Why Recruiting Firms Value a Balanced Skill Set

The reason experienced executive recruiting firms place such a high emphasis on a balanced skill set is straightforward: the challenges of educational leadership are both technical and interpersonal. For instance, a school executive needs to manage budgets effectively (a complex skill) while fostering a positive school culture (a soft skill). This is particularly true in Pennsylvania, where community involvement in education is strong, and executives are expected to excel in both areas.

Interplay Between Hard and Soft Skills

Proficient executive recruiting firms understand that hard and soft skills are not mutually exclusive but complementary. For example, an executive who excels in data analysis (a complex skill) will be even more effective if they can communicate their findings clearly and persuasively to staff and parents (a soft skill).

How Recruiting Firms Evaluate Skills

When experienced executive recruiting firms assess a candidate's skills, they often use a combination of methods, including competency-based interviews, skills assessments, and even role-playing exercises. These methods aim to evaluate the existence of these skills and their application in real-world scenarios.

Important Executive Skills


Adaptability is a skill that top executive recruiting firms highly value. Executives must be able to adapt to new technologies, academic policies, and community expectations, making this a crucial soft skill.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is another soft skill that top executive recruiting firms often look for in candidates. Understanding and managing one's emotions and those of others is invaluable in a leadership role where interpersonal dynamics can significantly impact organizational success.

Specialized Skills in Education

Some roles may require specialized skills, such as special education or STEM program expertise. Proficient executive recruiting firms often have sub-specialties in these areas and can identify candidates with these specific skill sets.

The Value of Multilingualism

Being multilingual can be a significant asset in areas with diverse student populations. Proficient executive recruiting firms often seek candidates who can communicate effectively in multiple languages, which broadens their ability to engage with students, parents, and community members.

Leadership Styles and Their Impact

Different leadership styles can be more effective in various educational settings, and top executive recruiting firms often evaluate candidates based on their leadership style. Whether it's a more authoritarian or collaborative style, the right leadership style can significantly impact a school's culture and performance.

4. Personality and Values

When hiring school executives, skills and qualifications are undoubtedly important. However, top executive recruiting firms often emphasize that these are only some factors to consider. Personality and values determine how well a candidate will fit into an educational institution's culture and ethos.

Why Recruiting Firms Focus on Personality and Values

It's not enough to have the right skills or personality traits; the most influential leaders possess a harmonious blend of both. When evaluating potential candidates for school executive positions, top executive recruiting firms often emphasize this interplay between personality, values, and skills.

Connection Between Personality, Values, and Skills

Proficient executive recruiting firms recognize that personality and values are not standalone traits but are deeply interconnected with a candidate's skills and competencies. For example, an executive with strong communication skills (a hard skill) who also values transparency and openness (personality traits) will likely be highly effective in building trust within the school community.

Why Executive Recruiting Firms Focus on This Interplay

Trusted executive recruiting firms place such a high emphasis on the interplay between these factors because it offers a more holistic view of a candidate's leadership potential. Candidates can learn skills and develop competencies.Still, personality traits and values are often deeply ingrained and must be more malleable. A candidate with a balanced mix of these elements is more likely to succeed in the multifaceted role of a school executive.

Real-world applications of This Interplay

Consider a school executive with excellent budget management skills (a complex skill). This skill becomes exponentially more valuable if the executive values fiscal responsibility and transparency (personality traits). The combination ensures that they can manage the budget effectively and done in a way that gains the trust and respect of teachers, staff, and the community.

How Recruiting Firms Assess Personality and Values

When top executive recruiting firms evaluate a candidate's personality and values, they often use a combination of psychological assessments, behavioral interviews, and situational judgment tests. These methods aim to provide a holistic view of the candidate, going beyond what's listed on their resume.

Important Personality Traits and Values


In the challenging environment of educational leadership, resilience is a trait that cannot be overlooked. School executives often face high-stress situations, from managing budgets to dealing with community issues. A resilient leader is better equipped to navigate these challenges without becoming overwhelmed, making them a valuable asset to any educational institution. Recruiting firms often prioritize candidates who demonstrate resilience, as they are more likely to maintain a positive outlook and steady performance, even under pressure.


Integrity is another cornerstone trait that top executive recruiting firms highly value. A trustworthy leader with integrity instills a culture of honesty and ethical behavior within the school community. Integrity goes beyond simply following rules; it's about making the right choices even when no one is watching. This trait is especially crucial in educational settings where the well-being and future of students are at stake.


Empathy is a trait that is often overlooked but is incredibly important in educational settings. An empathetic leader can understand and share the feelings of others, whether it's students, parents, or staff. This understanding can lead to more effective communication, conflict resolution, and a more inclusive school environment. Recruiting firms often look for this trait as it indicates a leader who will foster a supportive and caring community.


Adaptability is a highly valued trait. Educational policies, technologies, and community expectations can change rapidly, and an adaptable leader is well-equipped to navigate these shifts. Recruiting firms often prioritize candidates with a flexible approach to problem-solving and an openness to change, as these are indicators of a leader who can effectively guide a school through transition periods.

Frequently Asked Questions

How important is cultural fit?

Cultural fit is often considered as important as technical qualifications when hiring an executive. Trusted executive recruiting firms emphasize this highly because candidates who fit well within the existing organizational culture are more likely to succeed. They are more likely to positively impact team morale, be more committed to their job, and stay longer at the institution, providing stability and continuity.

Are advanced degrees mandatory?

While advanced degrees like a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership or a Master's in Education are not always mandatory, they are highly recommended. Recruiting firms often prioritize candidates with advanced degrees because they usually indicate a deeper understanding of educational theories and practices, which is crucial for leadership roles in educational settings.

How are candidates evaluated for soft skills like communication and empathy?

Soft skills are increasingly being recognized as critical for effective leadership. Trusted executive recruiting firms often use behavioral interviews and situational judgment tests to evaluate these skills. They may present candidates with hypothetical, job-related situations to assess their problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Some firms also use psychological assessments to understand better a candidate's personality traits, including their communication style and level of empathy.

What is the role of specialized skills or certifications?

Specialized skills or certifications, such as expertise in Special Education or STEM programs, can add significant value to a candidate's profile. Trusted executive recruiting firms often have sub-specialties in these areas and can identify candidates with these specific skill sets. While not always a requirement, specialized skills can be a deciding factor when two candidates are otherwise equally qualified.

What is the typical timeline for the executive recruitment process?

The timeline for the executive recruitment process can vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the role, the number of candidates being considered, and the specific needs of the hiring institution. However, it generally takes 3 to 6 months from the initial consultation to the final placement. This allows time for thorough candidate searches, multiple rounds of interviews, and comprehensive evaluations, ensuring that the institution finds the best fit for its leadership role. Remember that high-quality recruiting firms prioritize finding the right candidate over rushing to fill a position.

Take the Next Step for Your School with the Best Executive Recruiting Firms!

Are you seeking a new executive, dean, principal, or department chair? Don't leave such a critical decision to chance. Greenwood Asher & Associates specializes in identifying top-tier candidates with the requisite skills and qualifications and the personality traits and values that align with your institution's unique culture. Every educational setting is different. That's why we employ a comprehensive evaluation process beyond resumes and interviews. Our team of experts leverages years of experience and cutting-edge assessment tools to ensure you're presented with candidates who are the right fit for your organization. Don't settle for anything less than the best regarding educational leadership. Partner with Greenwood Asher & Associates and experience the difference a tailored, expert-led recruitment process can make. Contact us today to start the journey toward finding your next exceptional leader!