Hiring an Advancement Services Executive: What to Consider Beyond the Resume


Hiring an Advancement Services Executive is essential to your institution’s overall advancement goals. However, doing this requires you to go beyond the resume to understand a candidate’s expectations and what truly motivates them. When you go beyond the resume, you can more effectively align expectations of the role with their interests—subsequently increasing your ability for retention.


Here’s what to consider.


Organizational Culture

When it comes to hiring an advancement services executive, most institutions think deciding on organizational culture starts and stops with answering the question, “Is this person a good “fit” for our organization’s culture?”


But when organizations make assessments based on the personality perspective, it can often be opinion-based. This is especially true considering the industry standard of a series of panel interviews that include peers, reporting managers, and internal customers.


Organizational culture comes up a lot when it comes to personality fit. But it’s necessary to dig deeper and assess the path you’re developing with your organizational culture before you can decide if (and how well) the candidate fits.


To do this, consider the objective of the position and how that applies to your current organizational culture. Additionally, you must clearly understand your organization’s cultural status. For example, have you established an organizational culture that you want to maintain, or are you looking for a disruptor to be a change catalyst?


To understand where your organization’s culture is within the process, ask yourself these questions.


  • Have you done a lot of work and established a vision for your organizational culture?
  • Do you have a direction in your organization’s culture you want to maintain?


If the answer is “yes,” then the traditional personality assessment for organizational culture fit would work because you have guidelines established—you’ve developed the organizational culture to flourish—and you are looking to fulfill the position from a personality fit perspective. In this case, you would want to answer the question, “Does this person align with the direction we’re going in?”


But on the contrary, and something many organizations don’t often look at (or are unaware of) is they are actually looking for a new hire to be a change catalyst. When this is the case, you’re not looking for a culture fit, but you’re looking for a disruptor that goes beyond the resume evaluation process.


First, determine where you are with your organizational culture. Have you assessed whether you want to maintain that path, or are you ready for a change? Depending on your answer, your new hire evaluation should differ.


The assessment for hiring an advancement services executive should then consider their role in disrupting your organizational culture. But first:


  • Are they aware and comfortable with being a disruptor?
  • Are they prepared and have the strategic vision to be a disruptor?


Knowing where your organizational culture stands is an important part to hiring the best candidate for your advancement services executive position.


Strategic Advisor

Every institution “thinks” they need to hire for a lateral move. They want the person who’s done it before—one who’s been in a similar organization and succeeded with similar tasks. But you must be honest with yourself and assess, are you an institution that can attract top talent that has done it before?


If you’re not a sought-after institution, recruiting top talent can be challenging. It can even be more difficult to retain a person of this stature because when they’re done doing the task you hired them to do, they often move on.


Before you “think” you need to hire for a lateral move, clearly define the type of position you’re hoping to fill. Ask yourself:


  • Is this a strategic advisor—a lateral move where you want this person to impact your institution the same way they did for another organization?
  • Or is this a growth position where the candidate has the potential to grow with your institution and the capability to establish a vision as they evolve?


Hiring for a growth position is not wrong, and it’s not a “second-best” choice. But it does, however, create an opportunity for your organization that is often overlooked. With the growth position, you’re allowing the person you hire to evolve alongside your organization.


And in many cases, this develops loyalty and increases retention. This is because they’re growing in their career and with the institution.


Internal Service Model


As you consider hiring an advancement services executive, you’ll need to understand where you are in terms of advancement services. Specifically, what type of support advancement services provides to other departments within Development and how they operate as an internal services department.


What type of internal service model are you looking for?


The focus is either developing a service team to support other departments within Development OR are you looking to establish a strategic partner who can influence and consult other departments on how to get things done.


With the influence scenario, not only are they servicing other departments, but they are the experts that individuals can come to to get advice or help make things better. This creates a different dynamic within the internal services team and requires an openness to influence other departments effectively. Be aware that if you’re looking for the influence option, some team members may be reluctant to share their expertise because they think, “You’re not in our world, don’t bring in someone new.”



Leadership is a vital skill and must be carefully evaluated during the hiring process for your advancement services executive position. But first, do you know exactly what type of management you need?


Too often, institutions “think” they need one type of leadership and hire accordingly, but quickly realize they needed another type of leadership.


  • Are you looking for an individual whose primary focus is team development and management where their focus is managing and improving operations? OR
  • Are you looking for a contributing manager who is not only managing the team but also must be hands-on to complete task-based work?


If you’re not clear about the type of leadership you need up front, there may be challenges with who you selected and your ability to retain them.