How to Work With Executive Healthcare Search Firms

Finding executive and c-suite talent for your healthcare organization is getting more challenging by the day. There are a few factors affecting this. Unemployment in the healthcare industry is at an all time low. In 2016, year over year, health care added over 400,000 jobs in the USA accounting for almost 16 million jobs at the end of the year. In June 2017, health care employment increased by 37,000.  Needless to say, finding the right talent for your healthcare organization will take more than checking Google. You could save time and money by bringing in a healthcare search firm who can help you to vet, entice, interview and hire mid and senior-level team members. The best executive healthcare search firms will help you to create precise and tempting job descriptions, locate the right candidates for your organization (those who have the right skills and who will fit within your company culture), assess their references and credentials, and help you to get them to commit to coming on board.

How to engage and find an executive healthcare search firm
A guide on how to work with a healthcare search firm

What Executive Healthcare Search Firms Do

Engaging an executive healthcare firm takes you beyond scouring LinkedIn and sending out emails. When you are working to fill a healthcare position at the senior executive level, you need to engage in proactive recruitment.  The goal is to find candidates who are not easy to identify. This type of talent is not likely to be looking at ads. These candidates are people who would not otherwise be familiar with the appointment your organization has to offer. An experienced executive search firm can increase your pool of potential hires 10x.

Why Hire Executive Healthcare Search Firms?

Being without a high-level hire can be costly to your firm, but hiring the wrong person can be even more expensive. On top of this, conducting an executive search in-house can cost time, money. Your senior staff should not be performing tasks such as auditing candidates and their references, this can defocus your executive team from managing their teams and growing the organization. For these reasons, hiring an executive firm can have significant benefits. The best executive search firms can make the search process easy and worry free. They can even help place an interim leader to fill the gap and ease with the transition once a permanent leader is found.

What Type of Executive Healthcare Search Firm is Right For You?

There are various types of executive search firms. We’ve outlined them for you so you can better decide which will be the right one for your healthcare business. There are three basic types:

Container firms: Container firms are paid upfront to begin the search. They also receive a percentage (up to 30%) of the candidate’s salary once the position is filled.

Contingency Firms: With a contingency firm, you only pay once you execute a contract for a candidate that was brought on by them. Contingency firms charge up to 30% of one year of the candidate’s salary.

Retained Firms: Retained firms work directly for the employer. They charge up to 35% of the first year’s compensation. This payment is usually conducted in three stages. First, ⅓ to initiate the search, ⅓ when the vetted candidates are presented, and ⅓ when the health organization chooses from the candidates. This type of company usually works with C-suite and senior level position where it is harder to attract candidates.

How to Choose the Right Executive Healthcare Search Firm for Your Needs

The first thing that you need to consider is whether to engage an overall search firm or a search firm that is dedicated to healthcare. If you have an executive position to fill, a boutique executive healthcare firm will be your best choice. They will have a full understanding of the industry and have the right connections to access a pool of the best candidates.  Here are a few things you should do before choosing a healthcare firm:

1. Look at their placement history

Take some time to peruse their website’s placements page. The healthcare search firm you choose should have experience placing candidates in positions that are most like what you are looking to fill. In conjunction with the positions they have placed, look for the locations where those positions have been placed. Typically, retained search firms are contractually obligated to not recruit from their clients for 12 – 24 months after an engagement. Executive-level candidates from recent client engagements will be considered off-limits for any other engagement during that time. 

2. Consider their Client List

Does the search firm service diverse nationwide companies? The best executive healthcare search firms will be able to place candidates in all types of healthcare systems – academic, community and faith-based. Another sign of effective healthcare search firms is repeating engagements – has the firm conducted multiple searches for the same client? This shows that the firm can embed themselves in their clients’ culture to find the candidates that fit best. It means they are competent and have earned the trust of their clients.

3. Check their about page

Working with a firm whose company culture fits yours will make the collaboration smoother. Take a look at their about page as well as their social media accounts to get a feel for how they work and for their work ethic.

4.  Schedule a Call

This is really the best way to prospect an executive search firm. When you talk to them, ask them about their process. Ask them about recent relevant searches. For example, at Summit Talent Group, we execute our searches with a proven six-step recruitment model. When we are engaged by a new healthcare organization, we fully explain how this model works and outline how it will work for them particularly. You want to fully understand how the executive search firm works and be fully confident in their team. The firm should be looking into certain things as well. They need to discuss the competitiveness of your salary structure, benefits, the market share, competitors, and market perception. If you feel comfortable after inquiring about these things, then you’re getting closer to finding the perfect search firm.

5.  Check References

Reach out to a few candidates that were placed by their firm. This will help you to ascertain that the information you have gathered is accurate. You will also be able to confirm if the executive search firm accurately represented the client that hired them and you’ll get a feel for the honesty and professionalism of the healthcare search firm.

6. Set up a Follow-Up Meeting

Once you’ve narrowed down the firms, ask them how they measure efficiency and success. Healthcare search firms utilize metrics to benchmark their process. These can include how long it takes to fill a position, the ratio between interviews and offers, diversity, and retention.

7. Communicate with the Search Firm

Once you have selected a healthcare executive search firm, the most important thing in the search process will be communication. Your healthcare search firm needs to fully understand more than the specifics for the position you need to have filled. They need to have a thorough understanding of the responsibilities, qualifications, and experience that are needed for the vacancy. They also need to fully understand your company, its culture, its weaknesses and its team. Regardless of what firm you end up engaging, communication is the one thing that is most important to their success in completing the search.

How Executive Healthcare Search Firms Work

Each executive search firm has its own methodology. You need to understand how each firm works in order to decide which will be the best fit for your health care organization. Here are a few things you should inquire about:

Research And Sourcing: Understanding how the search firm’s sourcing works is imperative. They should have a considerable network of resources that includes personal connections, internal search teams, and candidate databases. They should also ask you if you like candidates from particular companies and competitors and if you want to refrain from hiring from certain sources. You should also make sure the search firm does not subcontract its research. In-house research teams are more committed to finding the right candidates for your organization.

Vetting and Screening: Your executive search firm needs not only to attract but to screen candidates before they are presented to you. There should be phone, video and in-person interviews. Your executive search firm should have a process to help you conduct background, educational, employment, criminal, and background checks. Once they have assessed all the candidates against your criteria, they will present a list of candidates to you.

Interviews: Once the list of the best candidates has been presented to you, your healthcare search firm should assist with preparing your interviewers for the interviews and with setting up and arranging the interviews. Additionally, the healthcare search firm should prepare the candidates for the interview with information on your company culture, location, and operations.

Selection: After the interview process is complete, your search firm should assist you in reviewing notes, discussing the pros and cons of each candidate, and guide you through making a choice. The search firm should offer to provide a way to codify interviewer feedback. Further, the search firm will conduct post-interview debrief sessions with the candidates and provide that feedback to the hiring executive.

Closing the Offer: The executive search firm also assists in presenting and closing the offer. This includes addressing financial questions, benefits, relocation, employment assistance for family members, schooling assistance for children, and outlining growth opportunities so that your candidate understands just how far they can grow your firm. This “pre-close” of candidates should be done early in the search process so that you and your HR team have all the information necessary to make an appropriate offer to your candidate of choice.

Great partnerships with executive healthcare search firms are based on trust, communication, and commitment. Once you begin to work with the right executive search firm, the relationship should last a long time. If you’d like to talk to us about our process and how we can help your healthcare organization with its executive search needs, contact us. Summit Talent Group is a boutique executive search firm that focuses on healthcare. We work with clients throughout the United States and work towards building solid, long-lasting relationships. We look forward to speaking with you.