The Imposter Who Claims to be a Healthcare IT Search Expert

They are already lurking about. Search “experts” in the Healthcare IT industry is the way they present themselves. Let’s face it HCIT is a growing industry and a highly specialized niche. I’ve always believed that if you are going to work in a specific industry niche you have to be a specialist. You can’t fake it! Some of the phone calls you will be getting in the near future will be from real HCIT search experts. Others…not so much. It’s up to you to figure out if the person representing your career has a clue or is clueless.

In search, most recruiters focus their practices in one of three areas:

  • Geographical– They spend their time working with local or regional employers. They are typically knowledgeable about the local markets and most of their recruiting efforts are spent with local candidates and this may include firms that conduct face-to-face interviews due to the local nature of their work.
  • Functional–  These search professionals (mostly) spend their time on certain functional job categories such as Finance where they may place candidates for a variety of companies that need accounting talent. I know a guy out west that only places CEO’s. That’s it.
  • Industry/Niche– Then there are those that only specialize in a single industry. If a search professional only specializes in Healthcare IT, they should be an expert, meaning they have a good understanding of the entire healthcare continuum including provider, payer, ambulatory care and other elements of healthcare. I’m not talking about surface swimmers.

In HCIT there are countless areas that an expert should know – and know very well. To find out if the person on the other end of the phone is truly and expert – ask them a few questions. Their answers will either impress you or shock you. You see, with billions of dollars being invested in this sector the imposter’s are already facing the market as experts – even if they decided two weeks ago to focus their energy in this sector. I do understand the allure of following a hot market – I get that. What I don’t get is someone appearing to be someone that they are NOT.

If your career is in the hands of someone that can’t even spell Healthcare IT – buyer beware. And that’s not entirely your fault if that’s what you were lead to believe. The challenge when presenting candidates to a client is they are mostly clueless and the client who was sold a bill of goods on their expertise will soon find out how little they really know. And guess what happens when the client throws them out? You guessed it. You will be painted with the same brush and if you start working with another search firm that presents to the same client your former search expert will be ducking and swinging to collect a fee  for not providing much value – at all.

The best way to avoid all of this if to make sure you understand the credentials of the search firm you are working with. If they claim to be Healthcare IT experts, you may want to ask them 5-6 key questions about our industry. Their answers will let you know if they are above board – or not.

Buyer beware…I’m just sayin’.

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Great post Tim! We can expect to see lots of HC IT imposters and posers trying to get a piece of ARRA pie – consultants, trainers, search experts, executives, etc!

  • They are already forming a line Joe. The question is: How many HCIT professionals will have their pockets picked during the gold rush?

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