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One of the biggest knocks against recruiters is their lack of understanding of a client’s culture.  Search firms or internal recruiters, candidates say it makes no difference.

career management mistakes“I have been recruited several times, by name firms and internal recruiters, and consistently, the employer’s culture is the one aspect of the job about which they have little or no information.  It is certainly not in their position profile, assuming you get one,  which, in the case of internal recruiters,  you usually do not,” said a senior executive.  The 10 to 12 page job description barely affords you any insight to the job, much less the culture, he added.  “Given that an organization’s culture is such an important factor in an executive search, shortchanging candidates on this issue seems crazy to me.”

To be fair to my brethren in the industry, this deficit seems to be  a shared problem.  In career transition interviews with candidates who were forced out of their job or left because “it wasn’t a good fit” (read: culture), many admitted that it had not crossed their minds to ask any questions about the culture.  When asked why, most did not have a credible answer.

This lack of focus on culture is not a new issue.  I have noticed it lurking in the shadows of failed searches since I entered this profession.  The extent of the problem has neither improved nor grown worse — it remains as one of the most common reasons for executive recruitment to go south. 

Failed searches cost healthcare organizations millions upon millions of dollars every year.  Not to focus on an issue that wastes so much money and that can be improved with  the implementation of best-practices along with a healthy amount of candor in disclosure statements to the candidates, is one that hospital’s can no longer afford.

Candidates should not be afraid to ask the tough questions.  Not to focus on corporate culture, and repeatedly ask all of the culture questions to get the information they need in order to make an informed decision, seems to be a high-risk brand management strategy.

Companies whose recruiters are loathe to share any negative information because they fear internal reprisal, or they have some misguided notion that sharing honest information might deter a prized candidate from accepting an offer, is simply not very professional.

Of course having a best-in-class recruitment program does not begin and end with the human resources or recruiting departments.   The culture emanates from the CEO’s office and so does an organization’s philosophy on recruiting.