No Client, I will not send your ideal candidate

                                           Would you hire this individual? Most of my clients won't.

I thought of adding this to the rant forum but thought other RBC members might have experienced similar situations. Perhaps there is more that I can be doing.

As many of you know I recruit physicians. I broke into the business focusing specifically on OB/GYN recruiting. Over the years I've dabbled in many other areas but still consider OB to be one of my more experienced niches.

When I'm speaking to a new client and getting details about their open position I often ask them to paint a picture of their ideal candidate. Sure, this is a canned open question but it has always worked for me in getting a strong sense of what the practice/hospital might be looking for beyond a candidate’s skill sets. 8/10 times I get the same response and even today I am still surprised by it.

Client: We want a female, American Trained, must speak good English and recently out of residency.

Now I get it. These clients are thinking in terms of a business decision rather than an actual fit. American trained means better training. So they think. Female- well because that is what patients want. So they think. Must speak good English- code for all American.  Recently trained- because it is easier to provide malpractice insurance. So they think. Well, maybe they’re right with the last one, but you get my point.

Although I have become a bit think skinned to such demands over the years, I'm at times just as put off by such brazen requests. Thus why I took to this blog/rant. I'm actually surprised that clients haven't thrown in weight requirements, political affiliations and sexual preferences. It’s as if they are requesting a product with various features from a catalog.

My canned response to these requests is typically to thank them for the information and let them know that in my position I need to present all qualified candidates. So my question to everyone- is that not good enough? Am I contributing to this mess by not putting forth more of an educational effort? Outside of healthcare do other recruiters encounter this? And if so, how you handle it?

I will add that there have been many times that I’ve had these type of requests and made placements with individuals that differed from said criteria. It’s one of those challenges that I welcome as a recruiter.

Views: 645

Comment by lisa rokusek on October 7, 2011 at 7:39am
Last week one of my clients (not one of my favorites) actually shared this gem in writing with me:

Let me throw out the PC and ask your opinion on her career status.  We’re looking for someone that is growing their career not trying to find a horse to ride off into the sunset.

Jeez. Seriously? 

Again I want to spank someone (don't worry Valentino, I will refrain)

Comment by Tim Spagnola on October 7, 2011 at 11:00am
Wow...not surprised Lisa, but it is amazing at times how easily they just throw that out there.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 7, 2011 at 11:49am

I am often guilty, as a recruiter, of recommending candidates for employment consideration that don’t exactly fit the specifications an employer (hiring manager/HR rep) provides for my recruiting support effort.  Why is this?  Well, it’s not because I’m a contrarian or misinterpret the requirements.  It’s simply because I look for people who have the capability to do the front job, but more importantly, have the potential to do the next-up job(s).  This to me is the critical aspect of placing a viable job candidate in the first place.  And, not surprisingly, this often flies in the face of what an employer prefers in a candidate for employment consideration—as you allude to in this blog post.

As recruiters I feel we have an obligation to help our clients see the bigger picture—even it may mean to read them the riot act.  I get a lot of “yes” decisions, but the “no” decisions dominate.

Yes, we're in the business of finding and placing the best talent available.  But I think we're obligated to also make a difference--like suggesting that quality can also mean diversity...and make that happen.

How extreme have some of my finds and recommendations been?  Imagine recommending candidates who have spent the last 24-36 months in State prison.  Candidates with “priors, tats and attitude” to HP, Xerox and IBM to name a few.  I was part of an effort that did just that—and we placed many.  Am I crazy?  A little.  Does my phone ring off the hook?  I wish it did.  My point—I tend to follow the simple logic that there is talent and there is rare talent.  I don’t place everyone, but I have made a living helping both sides of the equation—for candidates and employers.

Comment by Tom Dimmick on October 7, 2011 at 1:45pm
I think many of the comments posted indicate that we all come to this process with some preconceived biases, prejudices if you will.  Those are not necessarily unlawful but they are always unwise.  If what the client articulates is somewhat ill advised, we always have the option of probing further.  The comment, "OK, I get all that but tell me more about the problems in your practice."  We all know we must present the best qualified candidates regardless of __________ but to find that best qualified candidate we need more info from the client.  It's the "Fit" that will get it done and that can only be determined by getting past the stock phrases.
Comment by Noel Cocca on October 8, 2011 at 2:29pm
Great post Tim, one I know too well as you are aware.  I would always ask the client that painted a picture such as this: "So do you really want to hire someone then, or are you just telling me you only want to see the perfect candidates as you see them in your mind?"  The answer often guided me to whether or not I would work with the particular client.  I would give it a good effort, but those positions usually would go unfilled until reason took over.  Note:  There are some specialites of medicine that are near impossible to have success filling in any location, and especially so in some really small markets in rural areas.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on October 11, 2011 at 4:25pm

I don't have a problem with this one Tim because of the sector it is in.  Many women will only go to a female OB/gyn so if the practice has several male OB's they may need females to serve their patients.  As to the American trained, many of my doc hiring clients want to be sure that the docs they hire have top quality educational background and can be licensed.  Many will take a foreign doc if they did their residency or fellowship in the U.S. but they do have to speak English well or will have a problem communicating with patients.  If a practice is patient facing, as opposed to pathology or radiology, the communication skills are vital or patients will not be comfortable with the doc.


In rural areas and with practices that have an older patient base American trained and good english is absolutely a requirement or the doc will be playing on social media all day with no patients except emergencies.  A lot of the foreign docs will go to remote areas at first but they don't much like it there either and are more than ready to get back to a metro area where they are a better fit.  The recently out of residency is normally due to being afordable or having a number of older docs who want to retire so they want to bring in some younger docs to help fund their retirement.

If there is a valid reason for their candidate profile i would try for the ideal candidate knowing those reasons and understanding them is the key.  I would also send other candidates who may not fit the ideal but if we know they will not hire, why put everybody through that drill?

Comment by FREYJA P. on October 12, 2011 at 1:42pm
Interesting comment Bill about female doctors listening - because I find the complete opposite - they assume I do not have a brain and they don't listen. I once had one tell me a persistent rash I had on my shin for three years was "dermatitis" - well "duh"...I'll take a mature male doctor anytime who treats me like I've done my research, take care of myself, and have already done all of the precursors before I got there. They understand they are my last resort, not my first.
Comment by Cora Mae Lengeman on October 24, 2011 at 11:14am

I perfer male doctors  - and younger ones.  they are more up on the new technology, the older ones may not have learn anything new in the past 30 years! - not that this makes any difference to the article... I have come across this a lot in the auto industry "we want a minority woman who can speak excellent english, top of her class that comes from an upper middle class family, blah, blah blah."  I tell my clients and have since 1990 that I seach for the best candidate and if that best candidate for them is a white male then that is what I will present to them.  If they insist on only their own biased option I tell them to find a recruiter with no ethics - there are a ton of them out there.  I go by the law and do not search by biase descriptions.  Few companies walk away, in fact I think they're embarassed that I spoke out loud what they ndidn't want to hear. I also understand the need for diversity compliance and will see how that can fit in the search process but bottom line the best person for the position and company is who I present.


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