Associate - Boston

Job Type

Full Time




United States


Isaacson, Miller, a national retained executive search firm specializing in leadership recruitment in the civic sector, seeks committed and talented associates to aid in the growth of our Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC offices. These are exciting opportunities for talented individuals who share our dedication to the success of mission-driven organizations and who wish to have a significant impact on the caliber and diversity of leadership across our practice areas.

Associates are the key project managers for a search assignment, supporting the work of partners of the firm who take leadership responsibility for ensuring that each search is completed at the highest standard of excellence. Associates carry several searches simultaneously, and are involved in all stages of the search process. Primary responsibilities include developing networking strategies in consultation with the partner and the client, conducting candidate identification research, recruiting and screening candidates, managing timeframes, preparing search materials, and participating in client presentations.

Isaacson, Miller is a collaborative, team-oriented environment, and associates are expected to contribute to its culture, cohesion, and overall success. We seek highly motivated entry-level to experienced people who are active and curious listeners, learners with strong intellects, and who bring superior written and oral communication skills, and the precision and patience for excellent project management. The position requires a general understanding of and interest in organizational development and strategy issues, a strong client service orientation, and the capacity to build and sustain rapport with people at all levels of an organization. Outstanding judgment and relentless attention to detail are essential. A bachelor’s degree is required. An advanced degree relevant to one of our practice areas is desirable.


Isaacson, Miller was founded in 1982 at a time when not-for-profit organizations rarely used executive search firms. From the beginning, we have been committed to strengthening and diversifying the leadership of the civic sector and our staff members share a fundamental commitment to our clients’ missions.

Today, we conduct nationwide searches across the entire civic sector and across all the core functions of the institutions within it. We have strong practices in higher education, including leading universities and colleges at every tier; K-12, especially in educational improvement organizations and schools of education; science and social science research institutes, both within and outside the academy; healthcare, particularly academic healthcare; environmental defense; foundations; arts and cultural organizations; economic development organizations; human service agencies; and civil and human rights advocacy organizations, national and international. While most of our clients are not-for-profits, we also work with public agencies, and with select for-profit companies, particularly those with ties to education and science, as well as with socially responsible corporations. The firm aspires to contender or dominant status in each of the major fields in our sector. We have a presence in each, in some cases modest, in others substantial.

Isaacson, Miller has achieved an excellent growth trajectory and, in recent years, is consistently ranked among the 20 largest executive search firms in the United States. We have more than 200 employees in our four offices. Revenues for 2017 exceeded $32 million, and we complete more than 300 search assignments each year.

We are not and are never likely to become a genuinely large firm, comparable to the largest market-driven search firms, although we compete with them routinely. We will grow as we expand our position in our targeted fields. Our size and definition allow us all the efficiencies of a significant volume of searches, but still permit us to attend personally to our clients, to develop relationships that last, and to share readily our learning within the firm. We believe that there is no search firm in the country that has so carefully tailored its craft to the needs of the mission-driven sector or that has conducted as many and as varied a range of searches in these fields as we have at Isaacson, Miller.

The firm made a mission commitment to diversity early in its development. We believe that we are the only large search firm in the country with a statistically significant record of diversity in its own staff and in the placement of women and people of color in executive positions. Since 1982, 25 percent of the successful candidates in our searches have been people of color and 40 percent have been women. Internally, Isaacson, Miller’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative was established in 2016 to assess the extent to which we deliver on our diversity commitments in recruitment, retention, and advancement of a diverse workforce, and in sustaining an inclusive internal climate. In addition, the firm’s Diversity Speakers Series committee brings distinguished speakers to IM to educate, inform, and stimulate discussion within the firm on a broad range of topics, issues, and trends related to diversity and inclusion.

Additional information on the firm can be found at


Associates typically work most closely with one or two partners, and work occasionally with others to balance workloads and match expertise to client needs. Associates generally carry four to six searches at once, depending on their level of experience and the complexity of the searches. In their roles as project managers, they engage in all stages of the search, supporting the work of partners by developing and executing research and networking strategies, recruiting and screening candidates, conducting candidate references and other due diligence, managing timeframes, and preparing for and participating in client presentations. In particular, associates devote a significant percentage of their time to outreach, identifying and qualifying candidates and sources.

Over time, associates undertake more responsibility for searches and have the opportunity to progress in the firm and build their own search practices. As associates continue to expand and build their competencies, breadth of experience, and level of independence, they progress to the senior associate level.

Senior associates have more independent client contact and assume greater responsibility for client and candidate management than associates. They have the capacity to function interchangeably with partners in many respects. Senior associates may conduct candidate interviews alone and have standing to address candidate and client questions and concerns independently throughout the search process.

This is not, and never will be, an “up-or-out” firm. Because the position requires associates to be highly responsive to client needs and may involve significant amounts of travel, the position can, at times, be quite demanding. To balance these pressures, the firm offers associates appropriate flexibility in their schedules and individualized career development.

The culture at Isaacson, Miller is quite flexible, and career paths are individually managed. We foster a diverse, fair, and welcoming workplace, drawing upon our individual perspectives, experiences, and explicit and tacit knowledge to strengthen our collective understanding and achievement. 


Overall search management is the key challenge at the heart of the associate role. Although the degree of involvement in specific search stages varies, associates are generally expected to understand the search process in detail, track the progress of the search, and take initiative and responsibility for management and oversight when appropriate. In addition, associates encounter key challenges at each stage of Isaacson, Miller’s search process, including:


Scope the Position with the Client Organization

Associates may participate in initial client site visits with the partner in order to gather essential information including the nature of the role, the challenges facing the organization, and the client’s ambitions for moving the organization forward. Following the visit, an associate may be expected to write, edit, and proofread much of the first draft of the position statement.

Develop a Deep and Diverse Pool of Excellent Candidates

Networking is the core responsibility of the associate. In concert with the partner, an associate is expected to develop and implement networking strategies for each search, remaining flexible in his/her approach to ensure appropriate responses to client and market feedback. S/he must think accurately and creatively about where and how to identify sources and candidates, making efficient and effective use of both internal and external resources. Through accurate and persuasive telephone and email communications with sources and possible candidates, associates develop the candidate pools from which our clients make their choices.


Evaluate Potential Candidates

Associates calibrate potential candidates with respect to their organization, their industry, and the needs of a particular client. Associates will evaluate candidate credentials, credibility, and cultural fit, both on paper and through in-depth telephone interviews. Senior associates may also conduct in-person interviews with candidates.

Maintain Positive Relationships

Every individual with whom we connect is a potential candidate, source, client, or combination of the three. Because an associate’s role is heavily oriented toward networking, s/he is often an individual’s first point of contact with Isaacson, Miller. Associates must ensure a positive first impression through courteous and timely correspondence and follow-through. Associates maintain contact with candidates throughout a search, keeping them informed and engaged. At the discretion of the partner, an associate may sometimes serve as a point of contact for the client, responding to requests or concerns and providing updates on the search status as necessary.

Present the Pool to the Client

In coordination with search coordinators, associates organize and prepare presentation materials for our clients. In consultation with the partner, the associate is responsible for the accuracy, clarity, and consistency of materials presented, and may draft memos or other supplemental materials. Associates frequently participate in client presentations, and may be called upon to present candidate profiles, relate market feedback, and provide back-up information or detail as appropriate.

Manage the Flow of Knowledge

Associates are responsible for ensuring that the knowledge obtained during a search regarding candidates, sources, and clients is efficiently and effectively captured in the firm’s database for use in both current and future searches. In addition, associates must routinely brief partners on the overall progress of a search, market feedback, and individual candidate situations. Candidate information must be up-to-date and readily accessible for partners who frequently carry heavy caseloads and travel extensively. In concert with search coordinators, associates also oversee the flow of candidate information to the client.


Isaacson, Miller seeks candidates who are drawn first and foremost to our firm’s mission of strengthening and diversifying leadership in the civic sector. A commitment to the success and integrity of the firm as a whole is essential.

It is expected that associates in more senior roles will meet more fully the qualifications for the position and will be prepared to handle more complex tasks and assignments. Although we recognize that no one person will meet all of these criteria, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional experience and personal qualities:

  • An educated and deeply felt interest in the mission work of our client base; specific sector knowledge is helpful, but the capacity and positive energy to learn new territories quickly is essential;
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusivity; the cultural competence to work effectively across multiple lines of difference;
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills; the intellectual grip and persuasive skills to articulate effectively the ambitions of and challenges facing client organizations;
  • The ability to evaluate the accomplishments, credibility, and organizational fit of prospective candidates; a habit of meticulous evidence-based assessment;
  • A track record of serving internal and/or external constituencies, understanding the balance between assertiveness and deference to the client;
  • The ability to take initiative and work independently, combined with knowing when to ask for guidance; excellent time management skills and the ability to juggle competing priorities;
  • Conscientiousness in producing high quality work and attending to detail;
  • Maturity, discretion and sound judgment in maintaining strong relationships with multiple constituencies, often involving issues of confidentiality;
  • An engaging personality; the capacity to build rapport with people at all levels of an organization;
  • A collegial and collaborative nature; the inclination to circulate, learn from and offer assistance to colleagues throughout the firm; and
  • Honesty, openness, and a healthy sense of humor.

Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

How To Apply

Please use the link above to view and apply for Associate positions in our Boston, DC, Philadelphia, and San Francisco offices. Applications should include a resume and cover letter.

Isaacson, Miller is committed to diversity in its client work and in its own hiring and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates in this search.