The right fit Featured

12:24pm EDT May 26, 2004
When an executive position opens up within the Summa Health System, the HR department immediately starts a process to fill it with the best person. But there are no calls to a recruitment firm to do the work. Instead, everything is done in house, which has saved the company $300,000 to $400,000 over the last four years.

"We handle all of our recruitment, from the executive level to housekeeper, by using internal recruitment experts," says Kyle Klawitter, vice president of human resources for Summa Health.

The first step is the easiest; all openings, regardless of level, are posted so employees can apply for any vacant or new position. After that, the process varies depending on the job.

"We really tailor our search process," says Klawitter. "There is no cookie-cutter approach. It varies by the type of position and what professional field it is in. Do we need to go local or national or regional? We'll do an assessment of the job prior to embarking on the search."

Someone from the HR department interviews the person who oversees the vacant position to find out the most important attributes for the job and whether changes in the job description are needed. Once the position and the requirements are defined, the search process can begin.

"We do sourcing in a number of ways, but some of our most successful techniques or tools are networking and one-on-one contacts our people have formed within their own profession. We'll network and find out who knows who and what relationship people might have formed with prior colleagues. We will call people directly and ask them if they are aware of anybody that is looking. It's the same techniques that a recruiter would use.

"The first thing we'll ask our own people is if they know anyone, whether it be a colleague or someone from their peer group. Most of our managers or leaders are well-connected in their professional associations and have worked in other places."

The search may include posting a job on a professional organization's Web site or even creating a direct mail piece, depending on the position.

"For the executive level, it's really about networking," says Klawitter. "It's cold calling and getting to the right people that know the right people. They may not be looking, but they might know someone who is. You don't really get the best candidates when you place an ad in the paper.

If we are looking for a CFO, and we know that CFOs look at a certain magazine or Web site, then we'll ID those as sources to go after."

Once candidates are identified, Summa uses a team approach to try to find the best-qualified person, including interviews by HR, the manager and possibly the management team, but the ultimate hiring decision is made by the manager who will oversee the new hire.

"All the key constituents are involved in the process, because ultimately, we want the person to be successful," says Klawitter.

"Searches take a lot of work and time, but it's all part of getting the right person. We have 6,000 employees. It's not just the HR department working on the searches, but we are also collaborating with the manager. He or she might do as much cold calling as we might. We work closely with the hiring manager to make sure we get the right person."

Investing the time and effort into finding the right person has had long-term benefits for the company. About 40 percent of all positions are filled internally, and the turnover rate is about 8.6 percent, compared to an industry average of 15 percent to 16 percent.

"We have a lot of people who go from managers to directors and from directors on up," says Klawitter.

How to reach: Summa Health, (800) 237-8662