This paper reports on research conducted to understand key factors impacting the recruitment and selection of senior academic leaders in Australian universities. A key finding emerging from this research was an increasing reliance on executive search firms when recruiting senior academic leaders. This reliance is driven by a range of factors including an ageing and contracting pool of potential academic leaders, growing competition domestically and internationally and the declining attractiveness of academia as a sustainable career in the context of increased casualisation of the academic workforce. Concurrently, workforce planning and succession planning have not been a high priority for many universities. As a result, Australian universities are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit senior academic leaders without the use of executive search firms. These findings have significant implications for the higher education sector in Australia and warrant further research.