Closeup of businessman making decision. How to Choose an Executive Recruiting Firm.

When a company has an important high-level opening, there are several ways to evaluate which type of executive recruiting firm will be best-suited to perform the search. Some companies may elect to work with firms that recruit for specific functions — finance is a good example — like CFOs or Controllers. Those recruiters would source for candidates who have held that position in another company, but not necessarily within the opening’s industry.

Bristol’s specialty falls into a second category; our clients will often choose to work with us because we have depth of industry knowledge. For example, a food production enterprise or hospital may be specifically looking for someone with a background in those industries.

Related Article: Everything You Need to Know About How Executive Search Firms Work

While there are frequently crossover skills between businesses, an executive job function may not translate smoothly from one industry into another. As Bristol President Ben Farber says, “Our clients rank industry-relevant experience above all factors including location, compensation and even education. Why? The ability to hit the ground running is invaluable. Even though a hospital and a casino both operate 24/7, the technical intricacies of their operations are miles apart.” Also, job requirements may extend beyond work experience into necessary or preferred certifications or licenses.

Bristol’s industry expertise and specialized focus is one of the main reasons our clients hire us. We know many of the “players” — both employers and individual professionals — in the particular industry niche. Bristol executive recruiters have built relationships with their client companies and are extremely knowledgeable not only about the particular industry but also what skill sets, qualifications and characteristics work within a specific company — they know their clients well and know who or what they’re looking for. This is particularly helpful if the company has a short time span in which to hire. In addition, having industry-specific knowledge may help the new candidate get up to speed faster.

Whichever type of firm a client decides to go with, Bristol Senior Vice President Kelly Nelson recommends that clients:

  • Research the executive search firm’s reputation
  • Ask for references from satisfied clients
  • Decide which type of focus — function or industry — will serve their needs better
  • Request information on recent, successful searches

View the LinkedIn Profiles for the executive recruiters who contributed to this article here: Ben Farber, Kelly Nelson.

Bristol Associates is an executive search firm with a 49-year history of excellence. Bristol specializes in recruiting for companies and candidates in the casino gaming, food manufacturing, hospital/healthcare, hotels/resorts, travel/tourism/attractions, facilities/concessions, restaurant and nonprofit/arts businesses.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer, or here if you’re a job seeker.


  1. Shane Carpenter

    Ben, Kelly,
    Very nice read! The line about relevant experience is spot on. That being said, the question I have is how would/could you translate military logistics experience, 25 years, into say a job opening with CEVA or some other large logistics company?

  2. Ben

    Thank you for your input. Logistics companies or careers aren’t our forte per se, but if I were you I would reach out to other companies, hiring authorities or HR professionals that also have a military background. Like-minded professionals with similar experiences will already have an appreciation for the value that you bring to the table, making the “translation” pitch that much easier for you. As we eluded to in the article, if CEVA doesn’t see an exact match (despite the similarities in the logistics function) it can be a tough sell.
    Best of luck!

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