Your company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) plays a pivotal role in shaping the day-to-day operations of your business. When you have a vacant COO position, it has a major impact on your company’s functionality. Finding the right person for the job is crucial for your continued growth and success. 

When it comes to hiring a new COO, you want to have confidence in more than just the candidate’s ability to do the job well. You also want to find someone who fits within your workplace culture–someone who lives out your values!

Executive Search Firms for COOs

One of the best ways to find your ideal COO is to work with a highly-rated executive search firm. These professional recruiters know how to identify the key attributes that you need in your COO and prioritize the candidates who have the ability to elevate your business to the next level. 

A great executive search team will: 

  • Have a proven and repeatable process for recruiting the highest-caliber talent
  • Understand the intricacies of the role of COO
  • Develop a deep understanding of your company’s culture

How to look for a COO for your company

What to Look for in a COO

When choosing a new COO, you and your executive search team will look for these essential attributes: 

  • Strategic Vision: Seek a candidate who possesses the ability to devise and implement a forward-thinking operational strategy that is in harmony with the company’s overall objectives.
  • Financial Acumen: It’s crucial that your COO has a strong grasp of financial management, demonstrating expertise in managing the operational budget and efficiently distributing resources across departments.
  • Operational Leadership: Look for someone with a solid background in leadership, evidenced by a history of successfully guiding teams and driving operational excellence.
  • Analytical Skills: The ideal COO should be adept at swiftly dissecting and understanding key operational metrics, facilitating informed decision-making processes.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Candidates must show they can effectively collaborate with peers across different functions, creating a culture of teamwork at the executive level.
  • Industry Awareness: A great COO must have a deep understanding of the latest trends in technology, market dynamics, and operational strategies within your industry.
  • Positive Recommendations: Outstanding candidates will come highly recommended, backed by exceptional references that highlight their capabilities and accomplishments.

10 Chief Operating Officer Search Firms

  1. Y Scouts
  2. N2Growth
  3. Egon Zehnder
  4. Korn Ferry
  5. Spencer Stuart
  6. RSR Partners
  7. Amrop
  8. Boyden
  9. Heidrick & Struggles
  10. Alpha Apex Group

Y Scouts

At Y Scouts, we take immense pride in our standing as one of the top executive recruitment firms in the nation. We are a boutique recruitment firm, with a core mission to forge meaningful connections between exceptional companies and truly exceptional executive candidates. 

We believe that skilled talent is at the heart of every company, especially at the executive level. We help companies find COOs and other C-suite leaders that fit perfectly into your company’s mission, vision, and values.

Our approach to recruiting is all about purpose. We aim to improve the ways that companies recruit top-tier talent by creating our distinct approach to purpose-based hiring. Our methodology includes Role Visioning, Success Outcome Design, a Covert Discovery Process, and our Leadership Model for Hiring. 

We work with a wide range of clients, from small businesses and startups to Fortune 500 companies. Scroll to the end of this article for more information about our distinct and innovative approaches to meaningful, successful recruiting. 


N2Growth, under the leadership of their CEO Kelli Vukelic, works primarily with larger businesses–70% of their businesses are Fortune 500 companies. They also offer executive leadership services and board effectiveness training. They are headquartered in Prussia, Pennsylvania. 

Egon Zehnder

Chicago-based Egon Zehnder has over 450 consultants spread over 40 countries. They work in recruiting, organizational consulting, succession planning, and organizational leadership development. Egon Zehnder, named for its founder, was established in 1964 and continues to be headquartered in New York City. 

Korn Ferry

Founded in 1969 by Lester Korn and Richard Ferry, Korn Ferry has been growing over the last 50+ years. They currently perform talent recruitment, HR consulting, recruitment outsourcing, and interim leadership services. In 1998, they established their Futurestep program, followed by the acquisition of the Hay Group in 2015, the Lucas Group in 2021, and Salo in 2023. A bit of a behemoth when it comes to talent recruiting, Korn Ferry is located in Los Angeles. 

Spencer Stuart

Spencer Stuart was founded in 1956 by Spencer “Spence” Stuart, a pioneer in global recruitment. The firm now has 70 offices in 31 countries, and they focus on international executive searches. They pride themselves on a research-based approach to recruiting.

RSR Partners

RSR Partners have three core values: excellence, collaboration, and integrity. They believe in building sustainable companies through recruiting exceptional leadership. They tend to build long-term relationships with their clients, providing strategic counsel on multiple C-suite positions.


Amrop, founded in 1977, is one of the biggest executive search firms in the world. They have over 550 recruitment professionals spread across 68 offices in 55 countries. Their reputation is based on fostering deep connections with clients. 


Boyden offers both global executive search and leadership advisory services. They have a presence in 45 countries, with 70 offices. They prioritize responsiveness, client commitment, and international recruitment searches in specialized industries. 

Heidrick & Struggles

Heidrick & Struggles is one of the oldest executive search firms you can turn to. Founded over 70 years ago, they have been at the forefront of the industry longer than most of their competitors. They have a strong focus on diversity and equity. Heidrick & Struggles provides consulting services for talent searches, workplace cultural development, leadership development, and organizational effectiveness consulting. 

Alpha Apex Group

Alpha Apex Group offers a tailored and customizable approach to COO searches, based on deep industry knowledge and a significant talent network. In addition to COO recruitment, Alpha Apex offers succession planning, talent mapping, leadership assessment, and other consulting services. 

Our Take: Why Y Scouts Tops the List of COO Recruiters 

Looking through this list, you can see that you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a COO search firm. Even though many of our competitors have their strengths, we are confident that no one can compete with our propriety process for truly connecting people and companies to work that matters.

As a boutique firm, we have the ability to provide you with a white-glove recruiting experience that is unlike anything else in the industry.  We provide data-driven recruiting solutions through our unique, purpose-focused lens. Y Scouts should be your first choice when it comes to finding a new COO. 

We are the original purpose-based recruiting firm, and we are the only executive search firm with a proven track record of purpose-aligned recruiting. 

Y Scouts offers three things that no one else brings to the table: 

  1. Role Visioning & Success Outcome Design
  2. Covert Discovery Process
  3. Leadership Model for Hiring on Purpose

COO Recruiting Process

The Y Scouts COO Recruiting Process 

Traditional firms focus on skills assessment, but Y Scouts offers a unique process that is based on uncovering a candidate’s passions and aspirations before we share any specific details about the role they are being considered for. This ensures that your passions and theirs align before each of you takes the next step. 

We do this because recruiting is about more than just presenting you strong candidates. It’s about discovering the right person who can step into your COO position and lead your operations to great success. 

Here are a few more things that make the Y Scouts process unique: 

  • We always prioritize finding a COO who fits your company culture and ethos (purpose over resume!
  • We stay away from transactional relationships, and instead, we focus on building enduring partnerships with clients and candidates
  • We use a methodology that is built on research, data, and decades of experience 

You Can Trust Y Scouts for Your COO Search–And All Of your C-Suite Vacancies

Our team of talented and experienced search directors won’t present you with a candidate until we have a true understanding of your company and its purpose.

  • What makes you ‘you’
  • What makes your business special? 
  • What do you need to find in a leadership candidate who has so much impact on the day-to-day experience of your workplace? 

Y Scouts has decades of performance-proven leadership experience. We know how important it is to find the right person to fill an open COO position. 

Let’s talk–we’re ready to take the first steps in hiring your next leader. We believe all top talent is findable…but it’s all about how you engage with them. And your new COO is somewhere out there, just waiting to meet you. Let’s go find them!