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

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Michael Lewis: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third WorldMichael Lewis: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World Next up on my reading list. Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, The Big Short and Money B
7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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3 August, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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Be On Your Best Interview Behavior

Posted August 3rd, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

When you visit a potential employer’s facility for a face-to-face interview, be on guard, and your best behavior.

interview behaviorFrom the moment you enter the parking lot until you pass through the gates on your way home or to the airport, you will be under a magnifying glass.  At least that is what you must assume.  Were you a nice guy, friendly and courteous to the employees you came into contact with? The hardest thing for a prospective employer to figure out is whether you will fit into their culture.  Bad hires are very costly and companies are paying more attention to the issue of “fit” more than ever before.

Increasingly, employers are initiating contact with candidates in a variety of “ non-interview settings” to measure the candidate’s friendliness and courtesy.  When you felt that no one was looking, when the official spotlight was turned off or at lunch, did you treat people — the parking lot attendant, the  front door valet, the main receptionist, the office assistants — with respect and a friendly smile?

There is an old saying in employment circles:  do not hire clowns because they multiply like rabbits.  Well, rude jerks fit into that same category.  In this new economy, organizations, especially those in healthcare, are realizing that they do not have to settle for less than the best.

There is never — and I mean ever — a time during a site interview visit that you are not being scrutinized. Act like it. Be self aware.

You never know when the person you spoke to or shared a nod of the head and a smile with — or ignored —was a member of the senior leadership team, or the board.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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31 July, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
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ASK THE RECRUITER: Multiple Jobs, Same employer

Posted July 31st, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

I have held several positions with the same company.  In an earlier version of a resume I submitted to a recruiter, they said they were not interested because I had changed jobs too many times.  How can I clarify this?

AskTheRecruiter_v3_200x200This is a fairly common problem.  Keep in mind that most contingency recruiters and search firm researchers spend only 15 to 20 seconds looking at a resume on first review, according to research, so it is easy to understand how this could happen.  On the contingency firm side of the recruiting business, time is very much about money.  They do not get paid unless they place a candidate. If a competitor submits your resume, or a better qualified candidate first, they get the fee so speed reading is a necessity in busy placement agencies.

On the retained side, and this applies to corporate recruiters as well, the inflow of resumes for almost any vacant position can be overwhelming, so much so that a researcher’s first objective is to reduce the size of the candidate pool as quickly as possible so as to have a manageable number.  Moreover, I have seen the “too many job changes”  misunderstanding persist even after a more thorough review of the document. Moreover, I have seen the too many job changes misunderstanding persist even after more thorough review of the document.

The end result is that occasionally otherwise nicely qualified candidates find themselves on the cutting room floor, out of the search before the process actually moves forward.  The key is to design your resume format to avoid creating a mistaken impression that may get you eliminated.

When you have had multiple jobs for the same company, there is a little trick in formatting that helps avoid that fate.  It involves one word: indent.

I will use myself as the example. Throughout my career, I have been asked to take on multiple assignments, or received promotions, during my various employment tenures.  When I list that employment tenure on my resume,  I indent all the positions/titles I held during that time.  You begin with your most recent or last position. This example is more to illustrate the formatting style, not necessarily content.

Hermann Hospital
The Texas Medical Center, Houston          1980 to 1988

Hermann hospital, the flagship of the Texas Medical Center, is a 908-bed not-for-profit tertiary care referral and Level I trauma center as well as  the primary teaching hospital for the University of Texas Medical School a Houston.

Responsible for business development for this network of  44 managed and affiliated hospitals in Texas and Louisiana.  Scope of responsibility included identifying and signing  management contracts and share services affiliation agreements. Led due diligence teams in reviewing operations of targeted hospitals, prepared comprehensive operational reports, devised a selling strategy, made presentations and closed transactions.  Reported to the division’s Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer

–  Then I listed three or four of my top accomplishments.
–  I might reorder those or add others, depending on then needs of a future employer

Responsible for developing shared services products and was the company’s primary business development officer for those services as well as hospital management operating agreements for this network of more than 25 rural and community hospitals in Texas.

–  I would list the best, relevant accomplishments while I held this position
–  I might adjust the accomplishments to fit the needs of a potential future employer

Reporting to the Associate Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the hospital, was responsible for overall network management, including product development and business development of 17 rural and community hospitals

–  List accomplishments


By boldfacing the parent organization under which these jobs were held, you minimize the potential for confusion by a researcher or recruiter.

If you have questions, email us at

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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29 July, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
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A Job Search Strategy, Daily Routine

Posted July 29th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

At 32, after eight mostly successful years as a special projects manager for a major health system, Sally was out of a job.  That there were 150 colleagues in the corporate office facing the same fate did not make this day easier.

job search strategyThey called it a strategic realignment.  When she left her office for the last time on a Friday afternoon, after saying her good byes to friends, especially her assistant, she took a white banker’s box filled with the last of her personal possessions and left her office that had become a home away from home.  As she walked to her car, she experienced a swirl of emotions — fear, confidence, a deep sadness and then, surprisingly, a bubbling sense of confidence.  She knew she had the skills to manage this transition just like any of her other successful projects.

She had already met with her outplacement coach a couple of times.  Her resume was being “overhauled” and she had picked up some important ideas regrading expansion of her network of professional contacts and social media tactics.  She realized that while the outplacement company helped her with the tools of the job search, they gave her no overall strategy.  It would be up to her to construct that part of the process in order to identify a new employer before her eight months of severance ran out.

Here is an overview of Sally’s strategy and her schedule:



Sally took time to decompress.  She had begun to appreciate that there is a sadness that comes with losing a job that you loved, leaving behind colleagues whose company you enjoyed.  She wanted a chance to grieve for this loss and to prepare herself mentally for the hard work at hand.  She had dinner with friends, started a book she had wanted to read and at the end of the week, she left the city and flew to her parents beach house for some solitude and serious reflection.

There was a nagging question she felt must be answered — did she want the same job in another city, or was this the time to take her skills and experience and apply them in a new business setting?  Sally also knew she had to be disciplined, she had to have a strategy.  She was not instinctively a gregarious, backslapping personality, so she realized she would have to focus her energies on making meaningful, productive connections.



With a sense of direction in mind, she used the second week to construct her job search strategy.  She began by inventorying her experience and the skills she had developed.  She assembled a list of accomplishments that supported her success.  She began work drafting her value proposition — formerly known as the elevator speech — that emphasized her accomplishments.

By mid-week, with those harder than expected tasks behind her — this process took more self regulated thinking and more self reflection than she initially imagined — Sally began to identify potential employers.  Her criteria included reputation of the organization and its senior leaders, an alignment of values, geography, and the opportunity to use her skills for meaningful work.

She ended the second week, working through the weekend, by conducting research on each organization, settling on an initial list of 15 companies she felt would be a good fit based on her criteria.  Sally knew that she would probably have to add more to the list, but this was a start and she would be sensitive to other opportunities as her search progressed.



She conducted an inventory of her existing contacts to see if any of those individuals had connections, directly or with someone else, tied to one of her target organizations.  While there were some positive hits, Sally realized that she would have to quickly expand her network to realize her objective.  She began looking for contacts that could help her with introductions to her targeted list.  She had heard the term “connecting the dots” which made sense, but Sally was amazed at how hard she worked on this aspect of her plan.

She decided to use customized messages to current and potential contacts and was transparent about her intentions.  She hated LinkedIn’s suggested email invitations and felt that a brief personalized note would generate a better response.  She was working hard and did not want to waste time by cutting corners.  She also spent time polishing her value proposition, making sure that potential employers would not see her only as a project manager.  She reviewed and tweaked the generic resume that the outplacement consultant provided.  It was a good start, but  Sally knew full well that this resume would have to be adjusted for each job she sought to ensure she was effectively connecting with the needs of each targeted company.



Although Sally felt a sense of urgency, she took weekends to have dinners with friends, to go to movies or museums, and to read.  She knew it was important to maintain ties with her support group and to take time to recharge her mental and spiritual batteries.  She worked out early each morning so on the weekends she rested physically.



After week three, with most of the developmental work done, Sally moved into a regular routine just as if she had a regular job — she worked out, read the overnight news on her iPad and dressed.  This work, she believed, was important stuff and she did not think wearing a bathrobe and slippers reflected her serious commitment.  It was symbolic, but to her, it made a difference.  Sally wanted to maintain her professional edge throughout the process.

She was in her home office at 8:30 AM each day.  Sally looked over various healthcare websites searching for clues — actionable information that could be used to expand her contacts or enhance her intelligence of her targeted companies.  She checked the job postings of those companies and then reached out to new contacts in an effort to expand her sphere of market knowledge.  On some days she would meet local contacts for coffee or lunch.  Occasionally she would have lunch with a friend, but her days were focused on networking.

In the afternoons she continued her research and networking.  She even establish contacts with vendors, including search firms and other consultants, that she identified as having connections with her targeted organizations.  By the 15th week, she had expanded her list of targeted companies to more than 30 companies after conducting more research.  In periodic calls to contacts close to or inside her targeted companies, she listened for hints of opportunity.



LinkedIn, various healthcare news briefing sites and the web pages of her targeted organizations served as key tools for her research and networking.  She established Google Alerts for industry-specific news regarding her targeted organizations and their markets.  She constantly doubled back with her contacts every two or three weeks by email, sometimes by telephone, depending on the status of the relationship.  She made a point to find  interesting and useful information to share that would add value to each message or conversation.  She paid attention to their birthdays and work anniversaries.

For some of her strongest supporter-contacts, Sally also connected with them on Facebook and Instagram.  “I sent a lot of Paperless Post cards during my search,” she said, “and I know I will have to keep that up even after I find a job. I have come to fully appreciate that contacts are so valuable and you must nurture and safeguard those relationships. You cannot turn this off and on like water.  This is an important investment in your career.”

On the 28th week of her search, Sally, who had three job possibilities in the pipeline, made a site visit to one of her targets.  Two more, not originally on her list, had expressed a strong interest.  Each represented an advancement in compensation and a larger scope of responsibility.



I heard a speaker at ACHE once say that hope was not an effective job strategy.  There were never truer words spoken,” Sally said. She was also lucky in the sense that although she was in a committed relationship, she did not yet have the family ties that limit so many executives, geographically speaking.

“I also realized that if you do not have a plan and if you do not execute that plan with discipline and commitment, you will fall short of your goal.  I did not want to settle for just a job.  I wanted to find a workplace with people I liked and respected where I could make a meaningful contribution and be effective in their culture.”

All the hard work, all the planning, paid off.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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