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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29 June, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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9 Important Hints for FaceTime or Skype Interviews

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

SkypeComputer-to-computer video technology will revolutionize the interim candidate placement business, facilitating timely, more on-target selection decisions.

Video profiles of candidates, typically a summary of the face-to-face interview with the recruiter, while still a rare part of 99 percent of traditional retained search firms even though anecdotal evidence and client feedback suggests it is a very valuable tool, will be increasingly used in the interim placement sector beginning this year.

Moreover, computer-to-computer video screening interviews will become more common in full-service retained searches.

Being effective on video will be a necessary skill set for candidates as this technology becomes more widely used.  Here are some hints to enhance the “close-up” in the screening interview:

  1. Position the camera to capture a nice head/shoulder shot. If you are too far from the camera, you create a space barrier with the interviewer.
  2. If you are using an executive chair, lock it to prevent “rocking” back and forth or swiveling side to side.
  3. Check your volume and controls before the call. You do not want to do trouble shooting regarding video or audio issues once the call begins.
  4. Dress in TV compatible business attire — for example, conservative blues or grays are always good. Do not wear distracting colors or patterns.
  5. Set your camera at eye level. You do NOT want a shot where the laptop, mobile phone or iPad is resting on your desk, looking up at you.  Just consider this, would you want to interview someone looking up their nose, and at the ceiling, beyond their head?  To avoid this disastrous view, create a tripod for your phone or iPad using books.  The same technique should be used with your laptop or computer monitor with a camera.
  6. Avoid backlight. This means, do not sit in front of a window.  The backlight makes it difficult, if not impossible, to clearly see your face.
  7. Be cognizant of your background. I have done computer-to-computer candidate interviews with some questionable background distractions, including personal laundry items hanging from an indoor clothesline.
  8. Be sure family members are notified of the video interview so you will not have embarrassing interruptions.
  9. Bandwidth is important. Dial-up connections are problematic.  If you are engaged in an active search, you might want to “buy up” on the bandwidth speed for the six to eight months you are in a search.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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26 June, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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What You Should Know About Recruiters and Job Search Consultants

Posted June 26th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

CHICAGO — When my seat mate on a recent flight found out that I was a recruiter, she told me she was not impressed with her recruiter who insisted on charging her a fat fee to find her a job.  She then used a phrase that can best be translated as people like me are pond scum.

We are recruiting now on blackboardI had work to do but when I realized she did not understand the job placement process — nor  did several of her college classmates who had encountered a similar financial arrangement — I thought I had better clear the air and help her avoid being abused in the future.

Yes, there are agencies which charge candidates for helping them find a job, but they are a small part of the job search industry as are the companies which claim to have the inside track on hundreds of top-paying executive jobs, for a fee, but may or may not produce anything remotely resembling a legitimate, high-paying executive position. Frustrated and desperate people who need a job will sometimes resort to sound-good sales pitches.  One executive paid a retainer and more than $12,000 in installments before stopping.  The intelligence for the lucrative “hidden jobs” was glorified data of area companies with information easily obtained from the Internet.  While there are some legitimate companies in this space, the best advice is let the buyer beware.

Here is a breakdown of the various job placement/job search resources:

Placement AgenciesCompanies in this field build relationships with employers, typically for entry level or mid-level managers, and then recruit candidates to fill those job orders.  Part of the allure for businesses, especially those smaller companies that do not feel they can afford recruitment fees, is that the candidate will pay for the cost.  Fees range from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on the starting salary. The truth is that candidates who are savvy about how to find a job do not need those types of agencies.

Outplacement ConsultantsCompanies that specialize in outplacement vary in size, approach and fees.  Most of their clientele are executives who have been terminated.  Most outplacement consultants prefer to be paid by the employer, although some executives who did not get outplacement in their severance package, may opt to pay the fee themselves.  These consultants do not find the clients jobs.  Their role is to coach them in establishing their value for future employers and then helping them structure their message, which includes the development of a resume. Fees for this service range from $5,000 to $35,000.  Hint for executives:  insist that the consultant have industry specific experience.

Contingency RecruitersFirms in this arena typically represent the clients who engage them to find qualified candidates for a specific position. They are only paid if they find a candidate the client hires.  The candidate is not responsible for paying any fees and usually the client will reimburse them for any travel expenses incurred if they are called in to interview. Candidate screening is typically more superficial than that done for senior executives. Candidates have to be careful if they get a call from another firm with a similar sounding job. Explain you are being recruited by “x” company for a job that sounds very much like theirs and that you are working with someone else.  Candidates who end up in the middle of two recruiters fighting to see who should get paid may not be selected if the company seeks to avoid that kind of recruiter fight.  There are instances when a contingency firm operates with an exclusive for a specific position.

Retained Recruiters Search firms in this space operate on an exclusive basis. These types of firms typically conduct the senior level and C-suite job searches. Clients pay fees ranging from 25 to 33 percent of the successful candidate’s base salary. The candidate is not responsible any fees or expenses for travel.

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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24 June, 2015 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
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Interview Questions Candidate Should Ask

Posted June 24th, 2015 | Author: John G. Self

One of the most common mistakes candidates make during job interviews is NOT asking questions.

The most common candidate response when asked if they have any questions is, “No, not now.”

interview questionsIf not now, then when?

Candidates who do not ask questions during the interview process run the risk of raising a caution flag in the eyes of a recruiter or employer. No questions suggests the candidate may not have the management oomph necessary to be effective.  As the healthcare industry undergoes a fairly radical transformation there will be the inevitable consolidation and a contraction in the number of available preferred positions.  Every time a candidate makes a bad choice on the job that ends with an abbreviated tenure or a termination their career brand is tarnished, and sooner than later finding a top-tier job will be out of the question.  Candidates cannot afford to leave unanswered questions on the table, especially if the information they do not receive is instrumental to their success or failure.

Here are five important categories candidates should ask about:

  1. How financially stable is this organization?
  2. What is the corporate culture — what behaviors are valued, what behaviors are frowned upon and how are decisions made? How much freedom will I have to make decisions?
  3. Why did the person previously in  this position leave — an internal promotion or some other reason? How do you feel I differ from the last individual?
  4. What are the performance deliverables?  How will I be evaluated?
  5. Are there any strategic initiatives — mergers or planned consolidations — that might affect this position, its scope of responsibility or reporting relationships?

I have candidates say they did not ask questions because they wanted the job and did not want to offend the interviewer, or to be viewed as some self-absorbed, high maintenance employee. That is silly.

Of these five categories, one of the most important questions that often goes unasked is about the prospective employer’s culture.  Very few people are hired because they are NOT qualified so when things do not work out, the most commonly used phrase is, “It wasn’t a good fit…” meaning that the candidate did not fit in with the culture.

Follow up questions to the culture include why is the position vacant and how you are different from the person who previously held the job.

If the employer is offended by these perfectly appropriate questions, then that is a red flag for the candidate who should run, not walk away.

I invite you to share questions you frequently ask during interviews.  Send them to

© 2015 John Gregory Self

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