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Advertising & Recruiting

Cornell aims to attract the most highly qualified and diverse pool of job applicant candidates.

Search Plan

Determine scope of the search and parties to be involved in the selection process. Consult with your recruiter when constructing a search plan and utilizing recruiting resources. The decision to conduct a local, regional or national search should take into consideration:

  • the nature of the position;
  • the unit's affirmative action goals;
  • labor market conditions; and
  • the funds allotted for recruitment.

For each position vacancy, the hiring department, diversity and affirmative action representative and local HR representative must work closely to ensure that an appropriate search is conducted. Be sure to consult with your recruiter to utilize recruiting resources. Management of the recruitment process will directly affect:

  • the quality and diversity of the candidate pool;
  • the effectiveness of the interviews;
  • how quickly the position is filled;
  • the ability to hire the best qualified person for the job.
Constant Contact:
Reach out to your Recruiter about utilizing Constant Contact for promoting jobs.

Increasing the Diversity of the Applicant Pool

The university takes active steps to ensure that women, minorities (or people of color), persons with disabilities, and veterans (including disabled veterans) with requisite qualifications are represented in applicant pools and in the university's workforce. Following the steps below in your recruitment process can help increase the diversity of the applicant pool:

Steps to Take

  • Review the affirmative action goals for the position and identify protected groups not adequately represented in the workforce, if appropriate. If there are no specific goals, determine the availability for the position (based on local demographic data) to provide some guidelines in efforts to recruit and consider how diversity may enhance the effectiveness of the department or unit. In addition, read policies relevant to recruitment procedures (filling vacancies), particularly as it relates to recruiting and attracting a diverse pool of applicants.
  • Determine a strategic recruiting approach, that is non-traditional in nature, to reach the targeted groups such as posting the job in minority publications, at women and minority professional organizations, Hispanic and Black Caucuses, and women's colleges and historically Black and Hispanic colleges. The Graystone Group Advertising Agency is available to assist in identifying sources to target specific groups.
  • Work with a diverse group of current staff to determine what information would be attractive and relevant to members of targeted groups.
  • Provide opportunities for the recruits to gain a feel for the organizations and or the communities diversity and have materials prepared that will address life quality issues for the recruits.
  • Provide opportunities for the recruits to meet with members of the organization, including individuals who have common aspects with the recruits.
  • Provide a contact list for applicants to allow for additional opportunities for them to discuss important issues/concerns. This may give them more latitude in seeking perspectives on their concerns (via e-mail, phone, etc.)
  • If a potential new employee turns down an opportunity, ask for feedback regarding the reasons why the position was declined. This may help to revise recruiting practices to make them more effective.

Diversity Recruiting Resources

Executive Search Firms

Recruiting for top talent in a competitive job market is a daunting task for employers. There are times when it may be necessary to engage the expertise of an executive search firm to help identify highly-skilled and critical talent that isn’t readily available through traditional recruitment channels. This guide provides important information regarding the requirements and the steps you need to take to get started. Additionally, you will find a list of firms (updated at least once per quarter) that have been used at Cornell in the last 24 months and their areas of focus, FAQ’s, and questions to help you evaluate potential firms.

Please note that Cornell University does not maintain a preferred vendor list for executive search firms and we strongly encourage you to conduct an independent evaluation prior to engaging with a search firm. 

Cornell University Requirements when Engaging an Executive Search Firm

Agreement Form

To engage an executive search firm – new or existing – the university requires that the Cornell University Search Firm Agreement form be signed by both parties and include a statement of work. A new agreement must be completed and signed before the start of each engagement. Once you have identified an executive search firm that you would like to use, send the firm a copy of our executive search firm agreement (you may be prompted to log in using your NetID). 

Insurance and Supporting Documents

Procurement and Payment Services will request supporting documents and verify that all of the university’s insurance requirements have been met before the start of a new search.

Changes to the Agreement

If the executive search firm requests changes to our existing agreement, instruct them to mark-up the document using the “track changes” feature in Word and return the agreement for your review. If you are supportive of the changes, forward the marked-up document to both Debra Benson, Procurement Agent ( and Sonja Baylor, Director for Talent Attraction and Recruitment ( for further review. They will take the additional steps necessary to complete the review of the proposed changes, including directly contacting the executive search firm as needed, and communicating back to you. After the review has been finished, the Cornell sign-off may be completed. 

Unsolicited Inquiries

Due to the nature of our business, you may receive unsolicited emails or phone calls from firms and third party employment agencies looking to do business with Cornell.  It is common for the caller or the email to provide the name of an administrator as an endorsement of their services. Please direct all unsolicited requests to Sonja Baylor (, Director for Talent Attraction and Recruitment in the Office of Workforce Recruitment and Retention who will follow-up accordingly.


Why does Cornell require a firm to complete a new agreement for each search?

  • Each agreement spells out the terms, details and concessions for a specific search and minimizes misunderstandings. Also, search firms tend to have frequent changes of organization. 

What additional documentation is required from the executive search firm?

  • In addition to the agreement the search firm must include a statement of work that clearly reflects the following information:

    • Search firm’s full name, business address, telephone number, facsimile number, and e-mail.
    • Name of the principal contacts at your firm and the names of those conducting the search if different.
    • Position being searched
    • Start and end date (if applicable)
    • Specifics of services to be provided (e.g., interviews with key Cornell personnel, interviews with candidates,  candidate profiles, advertising, reference checks)
    • Guarantee
    • Non-Solicitation terms - the length of a prohibition on recruitment of the individual hired as well as the manager of and direct reports to that individual.
    • Terms of Compensation (retained vs. contingent; direct vs. indirect expenses; payment schedule; flat fee vs. percentage, etc.)
    • Affirmative Action efforts – address actions to ensure compliance with AA/EEO laws and regulations as detailed in the accompanying Cornell University- Professional Services Agreement.
  • Additionally, insurance requirements are outlined within the agreement and are important given unpredictable factors, and protect the university against potential liabilities that may arise when an executive search firm acts on behalf of the university.  

I keep receiving unsolicited calls and/or emails from executive search firms that I am not interested in doing business with – what can I do?

  • Direct all unsolicited requests to Sonja Baylor, Director for Talent Attraction and Recruitment (, who will follow-up accordingly.

Does Cornell keep a preferred vendor list for executive search firms?

  • No. The university does not maintain a preferred vendor list for executive search firms. 

I would like to use an executive firm that I have used in the past; what steps do I take in order to get them on record?

  • If you want to engage with a firm and your college/unit leadership is in agreement, the executive search firm must follow the same protocol as a those currently on record and sign the Cornell University Search Firm Agreement. If they wish to amend the language in the agreement, additional review is required (detailed above) prior to the Cornell sign-off.

I think I need to use an executive search firm for a difficult-to-fill search.  

  • Before engaging an executive search firm, be sure to check with your HR rep to make sure you’ve explored all available options.

How do I decide which firm to consider?

  • See the “Search Firm Evaluation and Assessment” section below.

What is the difference between a contingency firm and a retained search firm?

  • A contingency firm only earns a fee when the organization hires someone, whereas a retained search firm charges a fee that is to be paid regardless of the search results. Additionally, during a retained search the selected firm has exclusivity during the agreed-upon search period, whereas using a contingency search firm may involve other firms, including Cornell University recruiters.

What is the average search firm fee?

  • The cost will vary depending on many factors such as the complexity of the search. Leadership and niche searches are typically at the higher end of the range.  The industry average is somewhere between 25% - 35% of the new hire’s annual base salary.
  • We encourage you to negotiate a flat fee based on the anticipated first year compensation. That locks in your fee and eliminates any variation based on candidate salary demands that may be referred. Many search firms may be reluctant to agree to a flat fee so this approach is not required.

Should the executive search firm conduct references on the finalist?

  • Typically, the answer is no.  At minimum, the supervisor who will be make the final hiring decision should be the one to conduct the reference with the finalist’s current supervisor. It may be more convenient for the search firm to conduct the non-supervisory references in order to save time.


In order to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and to present Cornell University in a consistent and professional manner, all recruitment advertising should conform to the guidelines presented below. Refer to the Employment Practices section of Nonacademic Human Resource Policies for more details.