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Executive Career Strategies: Partnering with a Recruiting Firm

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 Mike Supple BE SmithBy Mike Supple, Executive Vice President, B.E. Smith

The current healthcare environment is full of opportunities for executives to advance their careers. Healthcare providers are seeking strong and experienced leaders who can guide organizational strategy and lead teams in achieving positive outcomes for key initiatives. The increased demand of experienced executives also brings increased expectations of hiring organizations. A partnership with an executive search firm can greatly improve your career search. This B.E. Smith industry report offers eight strategies for healthcare executives seeking to secure a new opportunity.

Understand Today’s Required Leadership Competencies

As healthcare changes so too does the competencies organizations are seeking in current and future leaders. In the 2017 B.E. Smith Intelligence Report, 30% of healthcare executives noted that shifting leadership competencies was their top concern. These healthcare executives identified the top attributes healthcare organizations are seeking in leaders. As shown in Figure 1, executives listed vision/strategy as the most desired attribute. Integrity ranked second, followed by agile/adaptable, communication, and collaborative. It is clear providers are seeking leaders strong in strategy, who can effectively respond to changes in the healthcare environment, and can communicate and drive their vision throughout an organization.

Be Aware of New Roles

The Intelligence Report also confirmed a growing trend of evolution among executive roles. According to the survey, nearly 18% of healthcare executives stated that “evolving leadership roles and competencies” would most impact the future of their organizations. Theses evolutions are also manifesting in an array of new titles such as:

  • Nursing: Chief Patient Experience Officer
  • Finance: Chief Investment Officer
  • Strategic: Clinical Transformation Officer
  • Physician: Chief Medical Information Officer

A partnership with a recruitment firm can assist in exploring the requirements for these expanding or new roles. Recruiters can also counsel on which opportunities closely match your skillsets and experience.

Set Career Objectives and Goals

A key step in career advancement is identifying the criteria and goals you want to achieve in a new opportunity. Recruitment firms can help clarify your search and evaluate your precise career objectives. Conduct an assessment of your ideal organization and opportunity. The Intelligence Report found that healthcare executives valued location of the opportunity, fit and timing, as well as family and work-life balance as the three chief factors when considering whether to pursue an opportunity. Recruitment firms can utilize this information and assist in finding opportunities that meet your specific geographical and personal requirements.

Build a Relationship with a Firm

Executives who develop strong partnerships with a recruitment firm typically see increased success in career advancement. Here are some critical characteristics to consider when selecting a firm as a partner:

  • Trust. Given the highly personalized nature of the process, choose a firm with which you are comfortable with and can form a bond of mutual trust.
  • Open Exchange. Be honest and open with recruiters. Transparency will help recruiters shape the best candidate profile and find opportunities and organizations that match your unique experience and values.
  • Confidentiality. Work with firms that are committed to maintaining confidentiality for both hiring organizations and professionals. The recruitment firm should be forthright with how it uses personal data and should never divulge personal information unless approved by the professional.

Consider Cultural Fit

When partnering with a recruitment firm, ensure attention to cultural fit is a critical component of their search process. B.E. Smith’s 2017 Intelligence Report found that executives valued culture more than job functions and compensation. More than one-third of respondents said an organization’s brand or culture was the strongest leadership recruitment motivator. A recruitment firm should ensure a professional’s experience and values match with those of the organization.

The Value of a Retained Search Firm

Retained search firms have exclusive contracts with hiring organizations. This approach yields a more intimate partnership between the organization and firm. The retained search process is also more controlled than a contingency search, in which the presence of multiple firms can lead to executives becoming inappropriately or sub-optimally branded in the market.

Resume & Interview Support

As a valued partner, recruitment firms should assist you throughout and search process. This includes providing advice on crafting stronger resumes as well as tips on interview strategies. The recruitment firm should also help coordinate all logistics for the interviews including travel for onsite visits.

Develop a Social Media Strategy

Social media continues to play an increasing role in healthcare executive search. This year’s Intelligence Report found that 25% of executives say it played a significant role and 31% said it played a fair role in identifying and pursuing opportunities. Likewise, organizations and recruiters monitor social media to create more detailed candidate profiles. Partner with a recruitment firm which offers guidance on how to optimize social media profiles as well as strategies on how to utilize social media to expand your network and increase your professional exposure.

Special Note for Professionals Outside Healthcare

Changes across the industry are opening opportunities for executives who don’t possess the traditional healthcare background but bring extensive experience and a successful track record in other industries. An increasing number of healthcare organizations are considering these professionals for strategic positions, valuing their innovative approach. According to B.E. Smith survey, healthcare executives strongly believe the Finance and Hospitality industries offer healthcare ready talent. Partnering with a recruitment firm that is knowledgeable in healthcare is essential for these professionals. The firm can assist these executives in transitioning to healthcare and communicating the unique value they bring to organizations.


In today’s competitive healthcare market, partnering with a recruitment firm provides strategic advantages and can substantially help advance your career. Finding a firm that can help you navigate trends and shifts in the industry, as well as deliver advice and tips through the recruitment process is absolutely necessary. B.E. Smith is the search firm of choice for healthcare executives. Our extensive experience and successful recruitment track record enables us to build strong relationships with professionals across their career continuum. It is also why Modern Healthcare continually ranks B.E. Smith as healthcare’s top executive search firm.

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