How to Engage with Executive Search Firms

An experienced, retained executive search firm like InveniasPartners works as a trusted partner and advisor to C-Suite and board executives committed to achieving performance gains and greater career success. Learn the differences between retained and contingency-based search firms and how to connect and forge relationships with seasoned search consultants.

Let Executives Beware: Retained vs. Contingency Search   

Executive search firms like InveniasPartners are in business to finding the best available candidates to fill C-Suite and board executive openings within hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, medical groups, payer organizations and other entities along the expanding continuum of care.  Health care executive search firms come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing is sure.  They never charge C-Suite and board executive candidates for their services.

Many organizations call themselves search firms when they actually function much like employment agencies.  They may, for example, ask executives to pay for services rendered.  Others may promote services focused on resume preparation, interviewing or salary negotiations.  And still others may prepare lists of available executive positions culled from the Internet and other sources.  None of these approaches matches the process used by retained C-Suite and board executive search firms like InveniasPartners.

Not All Search Firms Are Alike  

Organizations hire contingency-based executive search firms to conduct searches but pay these firms only if and when they hire candidates who are presented. The majority of these firms deal with junior and mid-level positions and often compete with each other to present candidates for the same position. 

In many cases, these firms present as many candidates as possible, hoping that the client will select one.  The upside: Health care organizations may view a C-Suite or board executive as a candidate for several open positions. The downside: The search firm may present an executive as a candidate for positions that fail to match the executive’s knowledge, skill, experience and leadership style.

Following Up with a Search Firm

Once C-Suite and board executives share their resumes or profiles with (hyperlink to section) executive search firms like InveniasPartners, they should keep contact to a minimum.  While executives can verify receipt of materials or advise the executive search firm of changes in employment status, they should take a “wait and watch” approach.  Retained executive search firms like InveniasPartners get in touch with C-Suite and board executives if the executives match position specifications or if the firm sees the executives as sources of referrals to other potential candidates.       

If a retained executive search consultant from a firm like InveniasPartners connects with a C-Suite or board executive about an available position, the executive should ask as many probing questions as possible.  Consider focusing on the following issues:   

  • Opportunities and challenges: What does this organization need and want from the newly hired C-Suite or board executive? What clinical, operational and financial challenges does the organization face? 
  • Competitive Landscape:  What’s the organization’s current market share?  How do competitors differentiate themselves?  What are competitors’ strengths and vulnerabilities?    
  • Culture:  How would you describe the organization in terms of mission, vision, values, attitudes and beliefs? What’s it like to work there?   How would employees, senior executives and clinicians describe the culture and work environment?       
  • Hidden Agendas: What can you tell me about the organization that isn’t obvious from its web site or stories published in the media?    
  • Position Description: What are the position’s key roles and responsibilities?  What does the organization seek in terms of C-Suite executive knowledge, skill, competence and leadership style?
  • Expectations:  What kinds of programs does the organization expect the C-Suite executive to launch, implement, sustain or scale down?  Over what timeframe? What are the organization’s top priorities? 

Even if an organization fails to hire a candidate, C-Suite executives should sustain relationships with executive search firms like InveniasPartners.  Ideally, executives   should view their relationships with executive search firms—and specific search consultants--as career-long enterprises.

If C-Suite executives continue to perform at high levels, executive search consultants will think of them as potential candidates for other high-level positions or turn to them as referral sources for upcoming search assignments. The bottom line for C-Suite executives:  Look at retained executive search firms like InveniasPartners not as one-hit wonders that help executives find their next jobs, but as valued resources for long-term career growth and development.