Why the latest technology might not be part of the mix.

The health care recruiting industry is constantly evolving and looking to tighten and reallocate budgets or business plans to become more efficient – it is a must in order to be successful in today’s economy.  In one word: adaptation.  But is the latest technology always our best investment?  I say no. 

Business meeting.We instinctively grab technology by the horns, and we rarely stop to decide whether it is actually helping or hurting our businesses.  We assume because it is new and used by hundreds or hundreds of thousands, it must be right for us. Wrong.  When we closely examine certain technologies used in the industry and their effects on the quality of the health care recruitment process, we realize they are not always applicable. 

Technology replaces the heart of human interaction.  In many ways, yes, it brings us closer.  You can see your sister in Japan in an instant and pictures of your son’s vacation in a millisecond.  While you’re reading, just remember we’re limiting this discussion to the health care recruiting industry.   

One of the most common technology-based recruiting tools today is teleconferencing.  In place of flying the recruiter to meet the candidates and clients face-to-face, they fly them in via Wi-Fi.  There are more than a few reasons why this just doesn’t work.  However, when you compare the cost of replacing a senior-level executive with a six-figure income and a plane ticket, it seems pretty simple.

Recruiting is like dating.  Actually, that statement isn’t bold enough – recruitment is more like marriage.  Because it is such a business-altering investment, when you hire a senior-level executive, you want that person to stay with your hospital or institution long term.  Recruiting for this person is a thorough process that takes commitment and requires you to get to know candidates on a deeper, more meaningful level.  It is simply easier and more likely that you will truly connect with a candidate as a whole when you meet face-to-face.  When you base recruitment off Internet meetings and interviews, the true connection to the candidate is lost somewhere between their Wi-Fi and your computer. 

In recruiting, you usually get hitched (select a candidate) in five dates over 45 to 60 days, so you can see where travel and time costs add up.  This is why some companies cut corners to save airline time and money, and opt for a much less expensive teleconferencing system instead.  But what happens when that two-second delay is no longer with us and the candidate has little to offer in person – you fall to your knees just to scream, “Where’s the charisma?!” These upfront costs are minimal when compared to replacing a candidate in less than six months – and that’s what can happen when you solely use video conferencing to select your next hospital head.

There is also the client side of the equation to consider.  A lot of clients are perfectly at ease with video recruiting, but what does this promise the candidate? It is my job to make sure full disclosure is present on the corporation’s side, as well.  The search firm must invest time with the board, stakeholders and other members of the executive team to develop a list of performance deliverables – those goals and objectives that the candidate must accomplish to be judged a success.  The deliverable metrics run the gamut from meeting operational and financial targets, to customer and employee satisfaction.  In investor-owned businesses, the dividend or stock price is typically included.  Corporate compliance is now a part of virtually every list of deliverables.  A detailed Position Prospectus averages 40 pages for major C-Suite assignments.  Meeting with these directors, board members, and the executive team in small groups helps to solidify what it is the client is truly after.  Body language speaks volumes and the surroundings are also part of the equation.  One tip: Clients do not want to air the negative bits about the position, so it is my job to investigate and dig them up – something that is impossible to do over the Internet.

Exploration of the candidate and client is vital to a successful match because candidate selection is not just about talking, but also about observing and getting to see beyond the credentials.  You have to make an investment for the future and that’s what it boils down to: recruitment is an investment.  There is no substitution for one-on-one contact because it is not just about skills and experience but also about passion and emotional commitment.

The role of technology today is to make life simpler, more connected, and to save time and money.  In our everyday lives with social media tools like Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn and Twitter, it certainly does.  When we take the scope from broad to narrow, however, are they still considered useful?  Video recruiting for the health care industry is penny wise, pound foolish and lazy.  The technology exists, yes, but at what cost?