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The Value of Utilizing Executive Search in the Senior Living industry

By Stan Dunavant, Senior Managing Partner at 3D Executive Search Partners

The value and utilization of executive recruiters in the senior living industry has been a fascinating study in human nature and interaction over this past couple of years. In my conversations with executive leaders around the country, there is as much variance in attitudes about executive recruiters as there are numbers of people! I have read with great interest, the comments from articles written by CEOs’ or presentations given at conferences from leaders in this industry, about the need for expanding the range of talent that is currently being hired in to the senior living industry, in order to increase the expanse of how business can be done more effectively and to constantly raise the professionalism, resident care and business knowledge of all levels of their individual companies and employees. Yet the prevailing attitude with many of their field leadership is to continue to only look at talent that has been working in the senior living industry with only the same type of the typical background and experience, and only those provided by their internal recruiting teams.

There are a vast number of roles within a senior living community that can be filled by online job boards or by posting positions on company websites. Most all HR teams are very capable of fielding those applications, vetting the applicants and scheduling the top candidates to interview with the hiring authority for that role. The challenge for many companies is the tendency to apply the same methods of search for their most critical roles of leadership to which their respective corporate culture and business practices are built upon. Posting a position and trusting that the best candidates are going to be looking at your corporate site or visiting job boards, while successfully performing their current position with their current company, doesn’t seem to be the most effective manner to build your corporate or field leadership. It also doesn’t tend to lead to the inclusion of other talented individuals who may be an outstanding fit for this next step in their career but don’t come from the traditional background of senior care. I’ve heard on more than one occasion from leaders that the senior living industry is “a small industry and we know everybody and who we want to hire”. Really? With a several thousand facilities operating around the country and well over 200 hundred companies operating in this industry, it’s highly doubtful that statement is true.

It’s important to understand the real role of an executive search firm and a ”recruiter” and the difference in how many operate. There are many “recruiters” that operate by taking your job description and opening, and posting it on all of the same job boards that the company HR team can utilize. There is little value in utilizing firms that operate in that manner. I recently was speaking to a VP of Operations for a major senior provider company who I had interviewed and had asked me to assist them in finding the next step in their career. I asked this leader what they had done to this point to find a new opportunity and they stated that they had called a few recruiters but no one had anything for them. Obviously, that wasn’t a real executive search firm. That type of passive approach is similar to the “post and hope” that many companies employ. The majority of executive leaders that I speak to tell me that they would like to know about top leadership talent that might be available whenever I uncover it. Many times they may not have a role for them immediately but want to be aware of that talent if an opening occurs, a new position is created or there is a need to “top-grade” roles within their own teams. I’ve had many companies bring that talent onboard, even though there wasn’t a specific opening for their background, but they couldn’t allow someone with their talent to get away from them. The chance that an internal HR team will be aware of these individuals is highly unlikely as these types of individuals are rightfully concerned about confidentiality and are not actively in the marketplace. The description of a true “headhunter” or executive recruiter is the person or company that dedicates its energy and resources to sourcing, interviewing, and vetting these talented people, and then matching them to the right company or opportunity. These are not typically the types of individuals who will be posting their resume or applying to online job openings.

At 3D Executive Search Partners, we take great pride in establishing relationships with both clients and candidates. Our name is on anyone we submit for consideration for a job or any company we represent to potential employees that we engage in consideration for an opportunity. Give us a call and let’s get to know each other.

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