How technology is revolutionizing how 3rd party researchers support Executive Search…

As Search cycle times shrink and clients demand more from Search firms while hoping to pay less, the ability for Search firms to rapidly ramp up the ability to research and source candidates is becoming more and more important.

While a good technology system has always supported this process, many Search firms have also used independent researchers to support the identification and research of candidates on an ad-hoc basis.  The growth of in-house search teams has led to a new market for researchers and – worldwide – more and more individuals and firms are now offering this service.

And yet…. How the service is offered has changed little over the last decade.  Typically, the Search firm sends the researcher a spreadsheet.  The researcher identifies and researches potential candidates, completes the spreadsheet and returns it to the Search firm.  The search firm then imports the information – or, in some cases, retypes it into the main Search database.

It’s spectacularly inefficient, but it has always been accepted as the norm.  Why?  A couple of reasons.  Firstly, technology – many legacy database systems have problems with access from outside the building.  A remote researcher in another part of the country – or the World – may be unable to access the database.  Even if remote access is possible, complicated software downloads and installations ensure it is not easy.

And, frankly, technology is the easy bit.  Security is a much bigger issue.  Search firms want to allow external researchers to work on specific projects.  They do not want to allow researchers to have free access to the firm’s database.  There are a host of data protection and competitive reasons for this.

Modern technology resolves both of these issues.  Browser based access to cloud database allows a Search firm to give instant access to external researchers.  It can be taken away just as quickly.  No software, no download, no headaches.

In addition, the ability to implement a security model that allows information to be hidden within the database ensures that Researchers may be limited to accessing just the information associated with a specific project.  Everything else – all other projects, all other people and company information – is hidden.

Allowing researchers to access the database live is a big efficiency gain.  The Search firm can review and act on information as it is added.  No time is wasted importing data and duplication is far less of an issue.  Quality control is improved and the project is closed off more quickly.

Clients using our FileFinder Anywhere product can do all this today.  But we want to help them find researchers who can facilitate this process.  That’s why, we are launching the “Certified for FileFinder Browser” program for Researchers.  It’s free, and we believe it will make independent researchers more competitive while making our clients more efficient.

We’ve written a white paper about it, and it’s available at  We are also running free training sessions – the first is next week.  If your firm uses FileFinder Anywhere and you use third party researchers, tell them to join us – it’s free;  if you don’t use FileFinder Anywhere…. Maybe ask your vendor how they solve this problem, and contact us if they can’t!

This article was authored by Jason Starr, CEO of Dillistone Group, Plc.