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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27 August, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Recruiting
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Heart & Soul Commitment: Insights Into a Candidate that Counts

You have a critical choice between two employees.  You can hire only one.  So who will it be?

One is an articulate Harvard MBA who is cool, confident and calculating, someone with excellent references from professors and friends and from a highly successful family, a young man who thinks the work you have will be interesting and something he would like to do, if the compensation package is right.  The second candidate is a friendly guy who graduated in the middle of his class at a small state-supported liberal arts college.  He is well-spoken.  He seems excited about the work you are offering.  He also seems oblivious to the compensation package.  He peppers interviewers with question after question, covering everything from the company’s portfolio of services, reputation and working culture, to the people he will be teaming up with.drawing chart heartbeat

So who do you hire — the smart guy from Harvard with the impressive family tree, or the guy who you feel will pour his heart and soul into the job for the company?

I like the candidate who has passion, who will invest all his energies into the work and the company.  Unless the academic deficit is mind blowing, and the position requires stratospheric intellectual academic credentials, always go with the qualified candidate who demonstrates a heart-and-soul commitment to the work and the company.  The candidate who finds the work interesting but seems more concerned with the money and room for promotion, won’t be around long enough to make a meaningful contribution.  A more interesting job that pays more will always be around the next corner.

Bonus:  Questions for your interview file 

  • Describe with some specificity the work environment in which you feel you did your best work?
  • In your most recent job, what did you do, what did you like, what did you dislike and what did you learn from the work?  Be specific.
  • What do you know about our organization?  What would you do differently?

For this last question to be meaningful, your recruiting team, or outside search firm, should have provided the candidate with an in-depth profile of the company, the job requirements, challenges, and expectations of performance.  This should include a candid discussion, prior to the site interview, of why the position is open.  Remember, recruiting is like getting married.  A marriage based on inadequate disclosure — overt or covert — is doomed to fail.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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25 August, 2014 Posted by Becky Pearce Posted in Uncategorized
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‘The Luckiest Man On The Face Of The Earth’

TYLER, Texas — On Saturday I accepted my ice bucket challenge in support of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  It was a hot day, the temperature was approaching the 100-degree mark, so what better time to have a bucket of cold water poured on me.

For those who delay in accepting your challenge, let me point out that the fall season will be here before you know it.  To have a bucket of ice water dumped on your head on a hot day is one thing, but on a 55-degree day — well, that is a joy that, all things considered, I would just as soon not experience.

In the US, this terrible disease for which there is no cure and no effective treatment, is most commonly linked to baseball player Henry Louis “Buster” Gehrig, the left-handed first baseman of the New York Yankees who played for 17 seasons before retiring in 1939.  Nicknamed “The Iron Man” in tribute to his incredible durability, Gehrig set many baseball records including playing in the most consecutive games, 2,130, a remarkable standard that survived for more than 50 years until it was eclipsed it in 1995 by Baltimore Orioles shortstop Calvin Edwin “Cal” Ripken, Jr.

Gehrig’s touching but simple farewell speech to his thousands of adoring fans at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, is central to why this devastating malady is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Gehrig’s Farewell Speech – Yankee Stadium, July 4, 1939

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got.  Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.  I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

“Look at these grand men.  Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?  Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert?  Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow?  To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?  Sure, I’m lucky.

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something.  When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something.  When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something.  When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing.  When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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22 August, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Healthcare
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Traditional Outplacement: One Candidate’s Experience

Rebecca was devastated.  Losing her job had been a constant thought in the back reaches of her mind given healthcare reform and her hospital’s focus on reducing operating expenses, but she was always reassured by colleagues.  She was a top performer with great performance reviews.

employee terminationBut when the unexpected meeting with her boss came, the letter he gave her and the termination agreement made it all too real.  Nine months severance with health benefits and outplacement support gave her some financial cushion for her savings and help with finding another job.  She would have preferred to have had the money but the outplacement was a take it or lose it provision of her agreement.  The organization had a contract with a nationally known outplacement firm that happened to have a nearby office.  Again, there was no negotiation — use our firm at our price.

From there it went downhill.

She scheduled an appointment with the outplacement firm and was assigned a consultant.  When she arrived, she met with the consultant for about 45 minutes, a certified consultant, according to the business card.  The emphasis of this first meeting was on the resume.  She was given an appointment for a follow-up class.

When she arrived, four days later, she was ushered into a large meeting room.  There were rows of chairs and people milling around waiting for the class to start.  Instead of a room full of professionals, they seemed to be a hodge-podge of industries and different skills sets.  There were very few executives in the room; little of the information that was shared with the class was applicable to executives.  And that is when her sense of dread began to build.  In her second meeting with the consultant, she received more, non-specific guidance that did not seem to apply to an executive such as herself.  The certified consultant had little to offer except what was in the company’s scripted job search template.

In the end, Rebecca turned to a friend from another hospital’s HR department to fix the mess created by the outplacement firm and only then did she begin to get calls from potential employers.

It turns out that her counselor, certified by the company she worked for, had little healthcare experience and her focus on the resume and the company’s generic bag of job search tricks, reflected it.

How healthcare providers deal with severance for executives and managers covers the gamut, from nothing, to paying whatever the outplacement firm commands.  In the early days, the firms priced their services somewhat like recruiters, a percentage of the executive’s outgoing base salary, but cost concerns have all but killed that sort of fee structure and now the going rate seems to be $10,000 to $20,00o per executive.  However, that new range, too, seems to be under attack by shrinking reimbursement.

Here are some questions to ask a potential outplacement consultant:

  1. Have you had experience as a senior executive looking for work?
  2. How long have they worked in the outplacement industry and what relevant industry experience do they have?  (Hint: if they do not have a depth of knowledge of healthcare, that should be a red flag.)
  3. Who provided their certification and what were the requirements for obtaining the credential?
  4. Does the fee afford them ongoing career transition support, or is it limited to a certain number of hours/counseling sessions, etc?
  5. What is the emphasis of their advice?  Does it focus more on producing an updated resume rather than providing candidates with the concepts and relevant tools that can become a permanent part of career management knowledge?

Financial challenges in the healthcare sector means that executives who are part of a reduction in force need to be better prepared before agreeing to a severance agreement.

© 2014 John Gregory Self

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