October 19, 2015

The Roles and Responsibility of the Client and Consultant Relationship

How should the client and recruiter collaborate in the physician recruiting process? What is the expectation from the Search Consultant? The Client? Is it a shared responsibility?  Each has a significant role in the search process, however, does everyone understand the importance of their role and responsibility? The consultant/client relationship is a partnership. Working together, communicating, understanding and making a commitment will foster a successful placement of a new hire.

Keys to Successful Physician Recruitment

“Successful recruitment begins with each party fully investing in the search process. The process to successfully recruit a qualified candidate is tedious and time-consuming,” says Michelle Houchin, President of Adkisson Search Consultants in Bloomington, IL, a national search firm.

“When Adkisson submits a candidate, the client can be assured the candidate is legitimately interested in the position and is fully vetted and credentialed—all the components that make the candidate perfect on paper,” adds Shannon McKay, Vice President of the firm.

Once the candidate is submitted to the client, what happens next is reflective of the client’s culture. This step is a critical element of the hiring process. “The clients’ efficiency in calling the candidate will determine if the candidate remains interested in the position. In today’s healthcare climate, a candidate has plenty of opportunities to pursue and if the candidate doesn’t hear from the client, they are off to their next opportunity,” explains Houchin.

Unfortunately, it is often the search firm who is viewed critically when the candidate has lost interest in the position, or if the candidate does not take the client’s job. Frequently, the client feels their monetary investment in recruiting a candidate is squandered. “When the issue is, there must be a concerted effort, by the client, which demonstrates to the candidate they are interested in them. As with anyone, the candidate would like to feel as though they are valued,” says McKay.

Lynn Stambaugh the CEO of Sarah D. Culbertson Memorial Hospital in Rushville, Illinois, has worked with Adkisson Search Consultants for ten years to hire physicians who are willing to come serve this small town and its surrounding communities (population of about 3,000) in western Illinois. “I know it’s up to me to present what we have to offer to the candidates Adkisson provides,” she says.

And it takes a lot of work.

Her strategy for successfully impressing candidates includes everything from providing directions, introducing community members, and making sure we appeal to the candidate’s significant other.

But it starts with a phone call. “I call as soon as I am presented with a candidate from Adkisson—because I know the candidates have a lot of opportunities. I spend time initially learning more about the candidate and what potential dates might be amenable for a visit,” Lynn explains. “Some candidates have more time than others, so my strategy has to be a little flexible based on their availability.”

If it works out, she prefers that a candidate come for 1-3 days, including at least one weekday. “I feel like the candidate will get a better idea of how things operate in the hospital and clinics if they can see them in operation on a ‘normal’ day. Weekends do not provide an accurate picture.”

Adkisson helps coordinate the trip as far as travel, but Lynn takes care of setting up a place to stay—which is not always easy or readily available in rural communities. “I typically make reservations at a local bed and breakfast,” she says. “They offer more privacy and convenience for the candidate.”

Lynn then plans a detailed itinerary. For example, she coordinates a breakfast meeting with key community leaders, hospital board members, and people from the community of similar age to the candidate. “I also try to include people who are not originally from our community, because they have a unique perspective on what life is like here relative to other places,” she explains.

Community Involvement

One of the most important lessons Lynn learned early on is getting the community involved is key. In the past, “community leaders and board members wouldn’t make the time to attend the recruitment events I had planned during a candidate visit—and would become surprised and frustrated we had not hired anyone. Adkisson provided an in-service to the board members to explain how important their role is in the interview process. As a result, we now have 20 people attending recruitment lunches and other events.”

Every detail is covered to make the candidate’s visit as informative and inviting as possible. “The itinerary is very detailed, with activities listed hour by hour. We try to be as accommodating as possible for the visit—if they have children and are bringing them, I’ll set up some special activities and/or make arrangements for someone to watch them.”

“You present everything in its best light—be truthful, but accurate, and accommodate the candidate’s (and significant other’s) hobbies and interests. You have to be mindful that you’re recruiting the significant other too.”

Bottom line, for the candidate’s visit, it’s important to be flexible, detailed, personal, and truthful.

Lynn also makes sure to keep in touch with periodic e-mails, notes, texts. “I just try to keep us in their minds until they’ve made a decision regarding getting where they want to go—whether it’s here or somewhere else. I try to keep everything positive and make them feel like they would be valued here.”

When the candidate signs a contract, it’s typically a year before they actually move to the community. During that time, Lynn continues to touch base regularly. “I’ll send the monthly hospital newsletter, quarterly reports, issues of the local newspaper, and other updates via email. I’ll also send contact information of people who can help the candidate with a finding a rental or search for a house. I want to keep them engaged, so they feel a part of the community before they even get here.”

“I know I have to do my part,” Lynn says. “Adkisson does a lot of the heavy lifting, but it’s up to me to seal the deal.”

Weise, B., (2015). The roles and responsibility of the Client and Consultant Relationship

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