By: Dennis J. Kain, FACHE | President | Philadelphia Office

Reach him at + 1 610 558 6100 or

Since Tyler & Company has joined Signium International, I have learned a lot about how executive search is conducted for clients outside the healthcare arena. In short, they move at lightning speed. Candidates are identified quickly, and clients immediately respond when candidates are presented.

Healthcare searches often take 120 days on average to complete (150 to 180 days in academic centers). Non-healthcare search engagements take about half that time. Simply put, a sense of urgency continuously surrounds these engagements. 

Two years ago, the market was decidedly different as the real estate crisis prevented potential candidates from even looking at opportunities that required relocation. Today, as the real estate market is (barely) out of crisis mode, search firms now can identify candidates willing to look at opportunities that require a move, but the competition for these “A” players is fierce. Therefore, it behooves both the search firm and the client to work together to expedite the entire process. If no movement takes place over a seven- to 10-day period, a great candidate likely will evaporate as there are often several alternative opportunities available to these fine candidates. 

Why do healthcare searches take longer? There are more internal constituencies. A greater number of people within a hospital/healthcare system typically take part in these searches than with those conducted outside healthcare. Or perhaps the people involved in healthcare search processes — many of whom have clinical training — are inherently analytical.

Maybe we should be asking: should healthcare searches take longer than searches in other industries? Are there ways to streamline healthcare searches — using lessons from other industry niches — while maintaining a quality process?

How can the number of days in a healthcare search be shortened? First, treat recruitment as a priority. For example, at the outset of every search, Tyler & Company publishes a work plan with specific dates and deadlines for that engagement, and we ask the client to commit to this schedule. 

During the course of the search, when information about a candidate is circulated within a client organization, Tyler & Company suggests that clients establish a same-day deadline for response. When scheduling interview dates, Tyler & Company suggests that client internal schedules be centrally adjusted in order to facilitate earlier calendar dates for candidate interviews.  

Ironically, CEO search committees can be the most predictable. At the time of the site visit, it’s requested that all committee members bring their calendars and firm up the scheduling of the first few meetings. Board members also pencil in potential dates for candidate interviews well in advance. This could easily be the model for all healthcare searches!

Great clients know how to respond promptly, and they also have an innate ability to welcome candidates to their campus. Search consultants need to be able to remind clients of the need for prompt response. In short (pun intended!), we all need to improve our game in healthcare search, and lessons learned from other industries to shorten the number of search days are welcome.