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GETTING THE MOST FROM RECRUITING
  

Why Use Physician Recruiters?

How to Select a Recruiting Firm
How Does a Firm Perform a Search?
Does Physician Search Work?
Retainer or Contingency
How Firms Charge for Assignments
How to Work with a Physician Recruiter
Advice on Interviewing
How To Be A Good Client

How to Select a Recruiting Firm

1. Create a Short List

If you have the time and resources, build a short list of search firms and individual recruiters who should have the right background to work successfully on your assignment. At this stage your primary concern should be to target recruiters who have recently filled similar positions for comparable organizations Appropriate specialty and functional experience is important. In all likelihood your company has relationships with a number of recruiters, some of whom may be relevant for this search. Check with colleagues in other departments or friendly contacts at other organizations to get additional recommendations. The number of names on a good short list will depend on the assignment in question, but we recommend that you work with specialists that know your area well. Everyone else will be a waste of time involving their their telephone calls, paperwork and process. The firm should be easy and simple to work with. The last thing that you need is for the firm to make the process harder or more difficult; good firms should facilitate the process and be an excellent behind the scenes ally to get the job done.

2. Ask Recruiters Questions

When you telephone recruiters, have a list of questions ready and go through the list with each recruiter. Your objective at this stage is to whittle down your list to one firms that you will most likely sign up with. If possible, it is recommended that immediately after you sign a recruitment agreement, that you meet with face-to-face with the recruiter. At that time, both you and the recruiter can get to know each other better, nail down specifics and details and the recommended approach.

How long have you been a recruiter? What is your training? What was your prior work experience?

• How long has your firm been in business? Do you operate locally, regionally, nationally or internationally? What kind of track record and background do you have in the area of recruitment?

• Does your firm specialize in a particular area or function? What background do you have in our area? What do you know about our company?

• What kinds of searches have you worked on recently? How have the placements worked out?

• What is your process for working on a search? What can I expect if we work together?

• How can you insure that you will find the best candidates for my position? What capabilities and resources does your firm have for researching good candidates?

• Do you participate in any of the following: creating the job description, checking references, setting up interviews and negotiating compensation?

• Who will be leading the search from the recruiting firm?

• What is your policy for recruiting candidates from your current and recent clients? Among organizations in our industry, which ones would be "off-limits" for this assignment?

• Is your firm a member of any professional associations?

• Is your firm a member of any networks of recruiters that can help with the assignment?

• What are your fees and what is your policy on expenses?

• What is your replacement guaranty?


3. Balance Industry Experience against Blockage Problems

Organizations usually want to select a recruiter with experience and contacts in their profession. Unfortunately, if the best recruiter has worked recently with two of your closest competitors, both companies will probably be "off-limits" for your immediate assignment, thereby limiting the available field of candidates.

This critical issue must be assessed carefully on a case-by-case basis. If you view your direct competitors as highly likely sources to fill the position, do not work with a recruiter who cannot touch those individuals. However, it is usually an acceptable compromise to use a recruiter who is intimately familiar with your industry and has a few blocked competitors.

The standard "off-limits" policy in the recruiting industry has been that a search firm will not approach an organization for whom it has worked during the previous two years. But be aware that there are considerable variations from this norm, and the very ground rules are in flux. Some recruiters specify one year instead of two. This will mean they have fewer organizations that are blocked from you, but it will also mean your own future protection against being raided is that much shorter. Some search firms observe no off-limits restrictions, and some clients do not require it.

The "off-limits" problem has a second dimension. When a retainer recruiter is working on an assignment, he or she will typically take possession of the search firm's files on suitable candidates for the position. If you then retain a second recruiter at the same firm, this recruiter will not have access to these files until the first recruiter returns them to the firm's database. This policy is designed to avoid outright competition for candidates within a search firm. For large firms that work on many assignments at once, and for highly specialized firms, it can mean that many of the best candidates are not available to you. Ask about the number of searches that will be going on simultaneously in your area. Your recruiter will always try to gather the best slate of candidates for you, but if the files of the five best Cardiologists, the top 10 Orthopedic Surgeons or the Top Ten Psychiatrists are sitting on a fellow recruiter's desk down the corridor, you are never going to see them.

4. Evaluate Search Firm Presentations

This only applies to if and when you decide to meet the firm that you will be working with.

For higher end assignments the more aggressive search firms will often assemble thorough briefings that include target executives - a good reason not to skip this phase of the process. Expect every firm to have smooth, professional presentations. Your challenge is not to focus on the quality of the sales pitch but to assess the real expertise, cultural fit and technical knowledge of each recruiter. Is this someone that is knowledgeable and knows his/her stuff inside and out? Do they seem sensitive to the special characteristics of your company? Are they savvy to any internal politics? Do they have any unusual and creative ideas for the position that needs to be filled? How responsive are they to your own suggestions?

Pay attention to what is not said. Are there organizations that should be important hunting grounds for your assignment where the recruiter appears uncomfortable or changes the subject? Many recruiters hope that clients do not ask directly about companies that are "off-limits" to them - a kind of "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Your best strategy is to ask about every company you want the recruiter to consider. A good recruiter is able to "recruit out" of almost anywhere to help you address your problem.

5. Clarify Who Will Do the Work

By now you should have one or two front-runners. Before you pick the winner, there is one more trap to be avoided. Some recruiting firms are blessed with tremendous "rain-makers" - people who are skilled at winning assignments from companies and who spend most of their time doing just that. Charismatic, powerful, entertaining - these rain-makers are experts at attracting clients, but once the assignment is sold they move on to the next opportunity, leaving the actual search to other members of the firm. Since an important part of your choice should be your sense of rapport with the recruiter you expect to work with, make sure that this person will be closely involved during the following months. How many other assignments will they be handling? How do they manage their workload? Will others be involved? What will they be doing? Who should you be calling day-to-day?

Recruiting firms also differ in the extent to which they use back-room research staffs. Some firms, particularly the largest ones, employ almost as many researchers as recruiting consultants. Researchers do much of the front-end work on an assignment, scouring through databases to uncover candidates, and often making the initial contact to gauge a candidate's interest. This can be an effective way to speed up an assignment, allowing your recruiter to focus on evaluating candidates. The danger is that the busy recruiter ends up relying too much on the short-list of candidates presented by a researcher. The best searches usually involve a good blend of digging for resumes (by researchers) and inspired networking (by recruiters). Make sure the firm you work with is not overly dependent on just one approach.

6. Make the Final Choice

Your final decision may well come down to the finalists' track records, specialization and knowledge and expertise. A few years ago, Korn/Ferry Int'l. (the world's largest retainer firm) commissioned a market research group to ask companies which were the most important factors to consider for senior-level searches. The ten factors, from most to least important were:

1. Firm's track record
2. Firm's ability to understand client needs
3. Quality of the individual doing the search
4 Knowledge of the client's industry
5. Ability to find the right candidates
6. Firm's reputation
7. Firm is easy to work with
8. Firm completes searches in the stated time
9. Firm's integrity and ethics
10. Cost

One Fortune 500 company's head of HR reported a different perspective. They pick retainer search firms based on these seven factors:

1. The search firm must have completed searches at comparable salary levels in the last three years for one of their divisions or a "highly reliable" reference in other Fortune 500 companies.
2. The search firm must not offer outplacement or career counseling to executives, but it can occasionally operate on a contingency fee basis.
3. Maximum fees are 33.3%. They try for 30% and they negotiate on whether or not the executive's bonus is included in the calculation of fees.
4. Expenses are reimbursed only for mail, long distance phone and pre-approved travel.
5. There should be a two-year off-limits policy, preferably applying to their entire company, though this policy is flexible for a middle manager divisional position.
6. Off-limits situations at other companies must be identified at the outset.
7. If the new executive resigns or is terminated for performance-related reasons within 12 months, the search firm should work without charge to find a replacement.

A final client perspective is offered by John P. Finnerty of National Westminster Bank: "The real test of any search firm is not only how well they know their own business but how well they know ours."

In addition to this six-step process, we have found a few issues crop up repeatedly. The following section discusses these frequently asked questions.

Is it Important for the Search Firm to Have a Local Office?

In most cases, no. It is far more important that you find a recruiter who will bring you the best candidates than one who happens to be based nearby. This is particularly true when the assignment in question will involve looking for candidates nationwide (or worldwide). Many effective searches are completed by recruiters operating out of different cities than their clients. Frequent telephone contact and occasional meetings can work well.

The largest recruiting firms do maintain offices in major cities around the world. This can be an advantage if they can bring local knowledge to bear in finding good candidates. These candidates can then be interviewed in person by the local office before going to the expense of flying them to see the lead recruiter and client.

If an assignment demands a local candidate be hired, it does then make sense to use a hometown recruiter. Local presence can also be thought of as a tie-breaker between otherwise comparable search firms

How Important Are Professional Associations?

Physician search firms may be members of various professional bodies. If they specialize in particular areas or functions, firms will often participate in the relevant association. Although simple membership may be no guarantee of expertise - since entry requirements and standards vary - it can be a useful clue when choosing among recruiters.

Executing recruiting firms have their own New York-based professional association, called the Association of Executive Search Consultants. The AESC was founded in 1959 and now has over 100 member firms, including most of the largest in the business. Membership in the AESC is indicated in the listings. For a client, AESC membership is perhaps less important than whether a firm adheres to the professional standards set down in the association's Code of Ethics. This code is intended to assure clients of a confidential relationship with their recruiter, as with a banker, lawyer or accountant.

Some individual recruiters are members of the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment (IACPR). This association maintains entry requirements, and members must pledge to honor the group's ethical code. IACPR membership is also indicated in the listings.