It’s Time to Fly

I’m the first one to skip the lines at the airport and leverage technology in my search practice. I love the new video tools available today to conduct interviews with candidates. I wrote about this a couple of months ago and it’s really help drive our productivity through the roof – all good. I strongly believe this sort of technology will greatly improve the service and overall quality of placing great talent in the months and years ahead.

But…while video is important when vetting candidates – I also believe it’s time for us search professionals to leave the comforts of our offices, remove our headsets, board a plane and take a trip to visit our clients. You heard me – get out there. Spend a few bucks and do a customer road show. The search business has seen significant changes in the past two years and many in our profession threw in the towel and opted for a steady more predictable income while others decided to remain in the jungle a bit longer. I, for one am glad I made the decision to ride out the storm. Business is much better this year over 2008 and 2009 and we have a chance to really build serious momentum as we wind down Q4 and set our sights on 2011. I, like many of us, have not laid eyes on some of my clients for a while as I held back on expenses and tightly managed cash flow. That needs to change …and it will. It’s time.

I attended the SRA Fall Conference a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta and the attitudes and the spirits of others in our network was much better than before. One of the attendees heard Danny Cahill speak at the 2010 Annual NAPS Conference where he talked about how many search firms and consultants ran for the hills in this economy in an effort to survive. Many did not make it. That may not be great news for them, but their absence from the business could spell big gains for those that decided to hang tough. How about you? How will you fare in the months ahead? Recruiters and search firms have a real chance to take advantage of this window of opportunity if we are prepared to make a few changes and deliver more value. Once the dust clears I have a strong belief that we could be in for a multi-year bull market in the search business – but we won’t be able to take advantage of this opportunity if we continue to do business that way we used to. Nope.

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It’s time for us to put the past two years behind us and really become a valued partner to our clients to understand their strategy, growth plans and talent needs. American businesses today are sitting on trillions of cold hard cash trying to figure out when it’s safe to start reinvesting in their business which includes building a talent bench. And they will. Trust me – they will. If you wait to “get out there” the search boom will likely begin and you may be the last one to hear about it. If you have been accustomed to slinging resumes and those single paragraph (low value) e-mail write-ups on un-vetted candidates as your way of adding value, I’m afraid those days are over. Companies want a trusted partner that understands their business, their strategy and works hard to add value. Those short client write-ups unqualified candidates you present could ultimately put you and your firm in a me-too category with off-shore sourcing companies that do what you do for a fraction of the fees you have been accustomed to and deliver faster that you can. Now is the time to step up your game. Break your search practice apart and reinvent yourself. If you can’t figure it out – hire a business coach.

I really have great confidence in a recovery in our business and also believe business opportunities will be phenomenal for those search professionals that raise the bar and deliver more value. My prediction is those that are smart and make changes in the way they do business will be busy grabbing (massive) market share from those that will probably never figure it out. So – step it up people – and get out there. It’s time to fly!

Timothy J. Tolan is the senior partner and managing director of Sanford Rose Associates-Charleston. SRA-Charleston has a primary focus on placing executive level talent in the healthcare IT, academic medicine, and revenue cycle industries. Tim is a member the Sanford Rose Associates "President's Club" and is consistently recognized for operating one of the top-producing offices worldwide for SRA. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and senior sales executives. He has worked with large and small cap companies as well as privately held and early stage companies. Tim is a contributing writer for Fistfuloftalent.com, Healthcare Informatics Online, and he writes a monthly column for Healthcare Informatics Magazine. He is also co-author of the book titled "The CEO's Guide to Talent Acquisition". Contact Tim at 843-579-3077 or tjtolan@sanfordrose.com.

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