Part Three: Red Flags and Roadblocks to Look for in Every Search Engagement

Academic part Three
Alan D. Johns
November 25, 2019 09:52 AM (GMT-04:00)
Thought Leadership

Perhaps the biggest risk factor in any search engagement is the fact that time is not always on your side. What do I mean by that? In part two of this blog series, I warned against the practice of lengthy and cumbersome selection and hiring processes given today’s tight candidate market. It’s worth repeating given that a recent survey indicates time-to-fill rates for physician candidates is taking even longer than it did last year. In addition, the number of candidates rejecting offers or taking counteroffers from their existing employers is also on the rise.

Due to these factors and others, it is imperative to audit your current search and hiring practices and identify areas to streamline or simplify the process. Start by following these best practices:

  • Keep candidate’s engaged through frequent communications and touchpoints.
  • Ensure candidate’s understand the institution’s tenure guidelines earlier in the search process and self-evaluate their experience in comparison these guidelines.
  • Start salary and start-up package negotiations with candidates as soon as they are considered a finalist.
  • Use “Draft Terms of Appointment/Offer” memo to nail down details and expectations prior to extending formal, written offer.
  • If needed, request your Dean or hiring offer to stay in contact with the candidates in which they are most interested.
  • Know what signatures and university/organization approval is needed prior to extending offer and get the offer  to the selected candidate in a timely manner.
  • Avoid large gaps of time between date of offer and official start date  to reduce chances of counter offers or candidates considering other opportunities.

Improve Offer Acceptance Rates by Avoiding These Common Mistakes.

The best way to ensure someone accepts an offer with your institution is to avoid putting up any red flags to the candidate during the search process. To that end, start by involving the entire administrative team and analyze the process from the candidate’s perspective. Look for these common red flags that candidates notice:

  • A lack of communication during the process
  • Unwelcoming faculty or search committee members
  • Disinterest during video conferencing and on-site interview
  • Interrupting candidates while responding to questions
  • Comparisons to incumbent and particularly other candidates
  • Failure to coordinate logistics (hotel, car service, campus interview locations, meals, etc.)
  • Low attendance at on-campus presentation
  • Unprepared stakeholders
  • Lengthy time delays in hearing about next steps at each stage of recruitment.

Speaking of Red Flags…

Although you are certainly not in the drivers’ seat in today’s competitive labor market, it is critical that you continue to take the wheel in choosing the best-fit candidate for your institution. There is little worse than investing the abundant time, money and resources to recruit a candidate only to find you’ve made the wrong hire.

Here are a few red flags every search committee and other stakeholders should keep top of mind when deciding on a new hire:

  • Recent job move(s)
  • Difficulty/tardiness in responding, communicating or scheduling interviews
  • Rude to support staff
  • Impatience with the process
  • Current start-up package exhausted
  • Failure to obtain tenure
  • Negative or inappropriate social media presence
  • Family issues, such as children in final years of high school, relocating aging parents or spouse/significant other remaining in current location
  • Tough real estate market or location for selling home
  • Struggles with technology
  • Overly focused on salary or inflexible on salary negotiation

Finally, the Green Light!

Here are the key takeaways on conducting a successful academic search engagement:

Make Candidate Experience a Priority.
Remember that recruitment is a two-way street wrought with high competition and complexities, but the candidate experience will reflect on you and your institution so always respect every candidate and their interest in the position.

Keep An Open-Mind.
Stay open-minded and consider a candidates’ entire body of work and potential.

Maintain Strong Communication.
Communication throughout the process is key and that includes getting to know each candidate and the factors at play with family, career goals, etc.

Lay the Foundation for a Strong Future.
Invest in the onboarding phase to ensure all the hard work pays off with a great start to the relationship.

If you are interested in learning more about preparing for search engagements or require a consultation to secure top medical, nursing, cancer research or other academic leadership talent, contact Alan Johns, Executive Vice President and Managing Principal.

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