John is an executive recruiter & speaker sharing his thoughts on healthcare, recruiting, digital technology, career management & leadership. 

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7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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17 October, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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Will Your Resume Make The Front Of The Line Or The Trashcan? 

Posted October 17th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

Wow, that person has accomplished a lot!

That is music to any recruiter’s ears.

It is certainly so much better than, this candidate has a lot of experience.

All else being equal, or nearly equal, I am going to focus on the candidate whose resume provides a great picture of success based on quantifiable accomplishments versus someone with all of the bell and whistle credentials, perhaps with even more experience, but whose resume is more of a roadmap to where he/she has been, or a list of previous employers with dot point lists outlining responsibilities.

That latter version of the executive resume might have worked as late as two or three years ago, but not any more.  Clients need and expect more.  So, unless you were one of the top four or five healthcare CEOs in the country, and if you want to put yourself at a disadvantage in a competitive search, send an old school resume that focuses on experience and responsibilities.  The candidate who gets the job will probably be the one who has the experience and a documented list of relevant, quantifiable accomplishments.

The C-suite turnover rate is rising due to retirements and an increasing number of CEOs are making strategic missteps, but there are a lot of people out of work.  Some are certainly not top-tier performers but their flood of voices, and resumes only makes a hyper competitive job market more hyper and more competitive.

For those executives seeking help with career management/career transition, know this: getting someone to rewrite your resume is the worst first step you can take on the road to re-employment.  The really good healthcare transition coaches, and they are few and far between based on the dismal quality of the resumes several executive recruiters report seeing, do NOT start with the resume.  The good coaches begin by helping you understand where you excel and then defining your value.  They teach you how to tell your value proposition in a more compelling manner.  A very savvy turnaround CEO currently working in Washington, DC for Huron, said this: “When a candidate tells me they excel at a certain skill or function, I ask, as evidenced by…?  Show me what you have accomplished that will confirm that claim.  I need executives who can deliver results, not managers who have been around a long time.”

To make it easy for recruiters — most are covered up with resumes and the average “first look” at your resume is between 15-20 seconds — explain your scope of responsibility in three or four metric-rich sentences and save the valuable dot points for your quantifiable accomplishments, with the most impressive at the top of the list.

Most resumes ARE NOT structured in that manner.

For those arrogant executives among us who think you know better, good luck.  Let us know how that is working for you because I am betting that unless you know the recruiter and he/she is familiar with your accomplishments, sending an old school resume is not going to push you to the front of the line, your graduate degree(s) and professional fellowship notwithstanding.

In a competitive search, the front of the line is a much better place to be than the trashcan.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

1 comment

  1. Marvin Todd says:


    Your blogs are a valued resource to me. I trust you to keep me in the moment; e.g., what worked 2-3 years ago but not today targets directly what I need to know. The purpose of the resume remains the same – to move you to the top of the list of candidates and an interview – but the method evolves. Thanks for the insight from the inside.

    Keep up the good work.


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13 October, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Healthcare, Leadership, Recruiting
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METRICS:  Too Much Of A Good Thing? 

Posted October 13th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

When I entered the healthcare industry there was a dearth of emphasis on the detailed management metrics that we now use to evaluate performance.  Today, quantitative analysis rules supreme.

But, like so many other things in life, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

“It’s very easy for CEOs to become transactional and focus on the numbers and quantitative analysis, and that can create an emotional detachment,” says Brian Chesky,chief executive officer of Airbnb, the home sharing service.  “I was searching for my identity…and I found it through industrial design.  I think it helped me become a good CEO because it teaches you empathy.  It’s like method acting; you have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” Chesky explained in Adam Bryant’s New York Times Corner Office column in the Sunday editions.

His comments struck a chord.  It reminded me that one of the many hard things about being a leader is maintaining perspective and striking the right balance.

The investor-owned hospital industry has contributed much to the way we manage healthcare organizations today.  They brought a certain discipline that was lacking among many not-for-profit hospitals which for years were more focused on mission than stewardship. History shows that approach was not sustainable but neither is a manic obsession with performance metrics without the emotional energy that a true leader can bring to the table. A hospital with a leader who does not understand that balance is an organization without soul.

As a recruiter I am constantly surprised by how many resumes I received from CEOs who previously worked in the investor-hospital management business.  It seems as though the desire for some companies to please Wall Street is more important than their stated mission and values…and seemingly their patients.

One of the most common refrains I hear from these talented leaders are words to the effect, regardless of how successful we were, it was never enough; we are told that we could have, we should have, done better.  

I am not saying that profitability is unimportant or should take a backseat.  Hardly.  As Sister Irene Kraus, the former CEO of what was once known as the Daughters of Charity National Health System, said on more than one occasion, “No margin, no mission.”

By contrast, I am not trying to lump, through guilt by association, all investor-owned hospital CEOs into one pot. Yes, there are some really bad actors  in the  corporate and hospital leadership pot and it would do us all a big favor if they would change careers but there are good and bad leaders on both sides of the healthcare business model aisle. One’s profit status should not be an issue.

Perspective and balance are important attributes that we look for in the senior leaders we recruit and I am concerned that we are slipping a bit in this department as the financial pressures mount.

As the healthcare industry begins a journey through one of the most consequential times in its history, it is important to keep ourselves in check, not to lose sight of our values or our emotional commitment to the greater good.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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10 October, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Recruiting
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Enhancing Executive Search:  What Do You Suggest?

Posted October 10th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

Earlier this week, I attended a meeting of fellow recruiters sponsored by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) in Chicago to be updated on ACHE plans for the year and to discuss healthcare reform and how it is changing leadership competencies, job titles and scope of responsibility.

My very talented colleagues zeroed in on the various elements of the research and there were some good questions seeking to divine trends and validate their own feelings about the kind of people they needed to recruit for their clients.  Then there was a panel of Illinois hospital executives who shared how the makeup of their leadership teams has changed in recent years and posited that the future might alter the talent landscape even more.  The question and answer session was helpful but at the end of the day there was, I believe, a more important subject that was left unaddressed: What can search firms do to improve the value we deliver for the fees we charge?   

As we enter the most consequential time in healthcare in the last 40 years, what can we do differently to be sure we serve the clients needs?

On the flight home, I thought a lot about what was said and what was not addressed. I distilled these ideas into five important questions:

  1. How do we change the search industry’s 40+-year-old service delivery business to be more relevant?
  2. How should we address accountability for the work we do?  There are huge consequences when the wrong person is hired. How much ownership should recruiters have?
  3. How do we make the term “partnering” more than just another throw away sales phrase?
  4. Is game-changing innovation something that is possible or is it, too, just a marketing pipe dream?
  5. Why can’t we do a better job communicating with our clients during the process? This has been a complaint against recruiters, internal and those working in firms, for the more than 38 years I have worked in healthcare.

As a former candidate and a client of search firms, I always believed there was a better way, and I want to share some of my beliefs:

  • There are precious few industries in the history of man that have gone 40 years without a major transformation.  Executive search is one of those.  If you strip away email and the internet, not a lot has changed.  Why haven’t we embraced innovation?
  • The cost of an executive search, whether it is handled by a white shoe firm or an internal recruiter, is expensive.  If we make a mistake, the cost to the client can be significant.  How can we put more skin in the game without sacrificing quality in candidate research and assessment?
  • Partnering is one of the most over-used terms in the history of advertising copy writing.  What does that really mean?  What must we do to make it more meaningful to the client?  Can you be partners without putting money at risk?
  • While some firms are moving into candidate and client profiling, using any number of behavior and values profiling tools, it is still not widely used.  (Heck, there are a couple of major search firms who do not conduct background checks before they submit candidates.  That is the client’s job, they assert).  What can we do to ensure that the candidates we recommend are the best, and how can we help the client pick the best three or four finalists for site interviews?
  • What can we do to ensure that the on-boarding process is successful — that we help expedite the candidate’s ability to deliver leadership value without a prolonged ramp up period?

Most of you have worked with recruiters — either as a client and/or a candidate.  What would you like to see changed to make the process better?

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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