Policy on Use of External Search Firms

University Policy


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Policy on Use of External Search Firms



This policy outlines the requirements units must meet to use an external search firm to help recruit for a position.


This policy applies to all units when recruiting for SHRA, EHRA Faculty, or EHRA-Non-Faculty Exempt Professional Staff (EPS) positions.

This policy does not apply to recruitment for Senior Academic and Administrative Officers (SAAO).


Policy Statement

Units may use a search firm, at their own expense, to help recruit for a position only upon meeting the following conditions:

  • The unit must determine and document that the position is particularly difficult to fill. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • The unit has attempted to recruit for the position and has not been successful.
    • The expertise required to assess the position’s skillset is not available on campus.
    • It is documented and well known that there is a labor market shortage for this type of position and/or recruitment for this position type is uniquely competitive.
  • The unit must determine and document that the search firm meets the search firm requirements described in this policy.
  • The unit must show that they have sufficient funds to pay the search firm for their services.
  • While using the firm, the position must be posted openly, in a place readily accessible to employees, in accordance with the posting requirements in the relevant recruitment policy.

Search Firm Requirements

  • The search firm must have the resources and expertise necessary to recruit for the specific position type.
  • It must be the practice of the search firm to recruit job seekers for positions, rather than simply having job seekers signed up with the firm for the purpose of finding new jobs.  
  • The search firm must not charge fees to persons hired as a result of their search efforts.

Review and Approval Process

  • The unit must submit a written request via email to the Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Academic Personnel or designee. The request must include documentation showing how the request complies with the requirements of this policy.
  • The Senior Associate Vice Chancellor or designee will review the request. If they:
    • Approve the request, they will forward their approval to the Associate Vice Chancellor of Finance and Budget or designee for review and approval.
    • Deny the request, they will inform the unit of the reasons for the denial.
  • If approved, the unit should then work with Procurement Services to follow the process required to retain and contract with the search firm. 
  • The unit must not begin work with the search firm until the unit has completed the procurement process and a signed agreement is in place.


This process does not apply to services provided by the UNC Executive Talent Management team.


See the UNC Policy Manual 300.1.1, Policy on Employees Exempt from the North Carolina Human Resources Act for definitions of:

  • Exempt Professional Staff (EPS); and
  • Senior Academic and Administrative Officers (SAAO).

Related Requirements

External Regulations

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Primary Contact

Title: Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Academic Personnel

Telephone: (919) 962-8377

Email: hr@unc.edu

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Article ID: 151223
Thu 5/2/24 2:34 PM
Tue 5/14/24 3:42 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Human Resources
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
05/10/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2024 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
05/10/2024 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
05/10/2024 12:00 AM