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Shrinkflation: How Big Search Firms Limit Access To Top Executive Talent

Shrinkflation Blog

By Neill Marshall, Chairman, HealthSearch Partners

In the 1980s, I.B.M. famously retained two search firms (and paid two full fees) to ensure they didn’t miss out on any potential CEO candidates. While this approach may have made sense to I.B.M. at the time, today’s healthcare organizations don’t have to resort to this solution, they simply need to hire the right search firm.

This rationale was undoubtedly rooted in the culture of executive search known as “off limits.” This norm of the search business means potential candidate pools are limited because executives of the search firm’s current clients, previous placements, and candidates involved in similar searches are “off limits” to possible recruitment for a position the search firm is conducting.

At HealthSearch Partners (HSP), we recognize how important it is for our clients to have almost no potential candidate off-limits. Unlike monster-sized search firms that can have up to 50% of the potential candidate pool blocked for various reasons, only 4% is unavailable for us to consider for our clients. That means we have access to a significantly larger pool of candidates for our search engagements which is critical to our healthcare clients in the current environment who are striving to recruit top executive talent that’s the best fit for their culture. 

“At HealthSearch Partners we commit to providing our clients a thorough search process that is inclusive of all of their stakeholders and their concerns and expectations,” says Ivan Bartolome, President and CEO of HSP. “We offer the broadest array of executive candidates who fit our clients’ needs and culture and minimize the number of leaders and organizations who are ‘off limits.’ That is part of our commitment to you.” 

The pool of leaders capable of leading healthcare organizations is sometimes small. When you factor in leaders who are open to considering new opportunities, the pool becomes even smaller.  When search firms conduct multiple searches for the same position, competition emerges between search teams, potentially decreasing the number of candidates available by as much as 50% for each additional search.

It is for this very reason that I helped form HealthSearch Partners. Rather than focusing on scaling our business at the cost of our clients in reduced effectiveness, HSP’s philosophy is to provide focused service. We engage in only one major CEO search at a time. This founding principle ensures that our clients have access to all potential candidates, without limitations.

Choosing the right leader is critical for any organization, and astute directors and trustees must carefully consider the unique needs of their company when making this pivotal decision. The importance of strategic vision alignment and the ability to identify the specific capabilities required for a successful CEO transition have never been more important. That’s why engaging a search firm with only a handful of candidates who are “off limits” for consideration is critical.

At HSP, we understand the importance of unrestricted access to top talent. By avoiding off-limits concerns and limiting competing searches, we ensure that our clients have access to the widest possible candidate pool, empowering them to find the right leader to drive their organization forward.

Neill Marshall is Chairman of HealthSearch Partners,