Timing in Academic Recruitment

* Marsh, JD, and Chod, RJ. (2017). Recruiting Faculty Leaders at U.S. Medical Schools: A Process Without Improvement? Academic Medicine, 92; 1564-68.

It is said in the business world that “Time kills all deals.” A 2017 study published in Academic Medicine reporting on data from 139 academic searches found that the hiring organization’s satisfaction by the length of the search was greatest when the search lasted between one and nine months. Satisfaction remained high through the 18-month mark before decreasing sharply for longer searches.  “We know that a very quick search is usually not ideal, because it does not allow for appropriate diligence and vetting of a slate of candidates,” said Corey Lohnes, Ph.D., Senior Client Partner. “But searches that last longer than nine months tend to be fraught with hiccups and roadblocks along the way.” Lohnes added that the ideal recruitment time frame from start to finish is six to nine months.

Timing also plays an important role for candidates interested in a role at an academic institution, as their level of interest wanes over time. If candidates are not aware of the organization’s timeline, they may begin to question the level of confidence the entity places in them as a candidate, how committed the client is to the endeavor, or a myriad of other uncertainties could lead to the candidate second guessing their desire for the opportunity. “We want to work through the process in a cohesive and sequential manner, so that one step to the next for any given candidate occurs in a relatively rapid succession,” Lohnes said. It is important to pave a path forward from one action item to the next without too much time elapsing. “Even if there is a lag in the process as work is completed in the background, communication with candidates to ensure them that the process is unfolding, and they are still the candidate of choice, goes a long way,” Lohnes remarked.

Avoid Common Timing Barriers

Because the culture of academic medical centers is often more in line with that of an institution of higher learning than to that of the corporate world, the recruitment process can lack the urgency and decisiveness required to make a successful hire. To avoid common barriers:

Understand your institution and what goes into finalizing a hire. “If you have seen one institution’s hiring process, you have seen one institution’s hiring process,” Lohnes shared. “Each organization has their own processes, some of which can happen in parallel and others that need to happen sequentially.” It’s paramount to understand the steps from the outset of the search process.

Keep candidates in the loop, especially if your organization has an atypically long or onerous process. It is essential to be open with candidates up front about what the process entails. “Candidates will be less likely to have anxiety during the search if they know what to expect ahead of time,” Lohnes cited.

Ensure that individuals involved in academic recruitment understand their role. Have a key decision maker who is active in the process, dedicated to the search and supportive of other key stakeholders throughout the process.

About Corey Lohnes

Corey Lohnes, Ph.D., Senior Client Partner: Corey Lohnes joined Grant Cooper following six years of experience in clinical research and business development with Washington University in St. Louis. His executive search experience includes clinical and scientific leaders for clients ranging from academic medical centers, integrated delivery systems, cancer centers, and children’s hospitals. Corey’s specific knowledge and expertise regarding extramural funding mechanisms, basic and translational research, multi-disciplinary and team-based science, as well as academic medicine adds unique value to Grant Cooper’s recruitment efforts.

About Grant Cooper

Grant Cooper is a retained executive search firm working principally in healthcare to identify and recruit superior executive talent. Boutique in size, but not in scope, Grant Cooper’s collective partnership applies decades of hard-won executive search expertise to its search engagements.