There have been many things written about the executive search process.  Some are amusing with a ring of truth –  executive recruitment is like getting married after four dates – and others are less flattering, that recruiters are the world’s worst communicators.

But it is the lack of full disclosure that is one of the biggest problems that torpedoes a new executive’s survival and/or derails his or her career.  An error of omission or commission is an innocuous enough phrase but there are big consequences, whether the lack of full disclosure was intentional or not.

A candidate who thought he was taking over an organization making money, found that the hospital was losing $4 million a month owing to a major failure in software implementation.  Or that reassurances that a position would report to the CEO were false when, in fact, a decision had already been made to employ a new system COO who would take on that reporting responsibility.  Sometimes material information was concealed from recruiters.   Sometimes the recruiter did not think to ask, as in a simple oversight, or they chose to ignore an issue even though there was a strong stench of elephant dung in the air.

Things change from the time a position is posted and candidate sourcing begins.   That is understandable, especially given the increasing speed with which change is occurring in healthcare.  But a deliberate decision not to inform a recruiter or his/her candidate of material information to the process is contemptible.  But it happens.

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Candidates, as well as the recruiters have a duty to think critically.  Here is an example.  A hospital is struggling in a competitive market.  Questionable decisions have been made and things are not working out – market share drops, utilization and revenue are down year over year.  When the candidate asks if there is any move afoot to find a strategic partner, the recruiter responds, “not that I know of,” or “I don’t know,” should raise a red flag.  One example, sure, but you get the point.  There many opportunities in the search process for this to happen.

The old days of transactional recruiting where the candidate was mere inventory for a search consultant eager to fill a client order and earn a fee is rapidly (thankfully) fading from use, but candidates and recruiters still owe it to one another to not let unasked or unanswered questions foul things up less we drift back into the “don’t ask, don’t tell” recruiting that has produced terrible results on the years.

For clients reluctant to share news that might dissuade top candidates from considering the opportunity, think of it this way:  the recruitment process is probably the least embarrassing and damaging time to share that kind of information.