Tuesday’s Quote of the Day
Someone is looking
for exactly what you have to offer.”
In today’s consolidating job market where mergers have eliminated hundreds of executive positions, searching for a job requires the determination of a (well prepared) zealot with the patience of Job. It is not easy, nor is it pain free.
Do not be intimidated by the competition. You do not have to be the smartest candidate in the applicant pool or have more experience than your counterpart, but you do have to be better prepared.
Executives who lose their jobs are like everyone else in town — they have friends, a spouse with a support group, kids in schools, and ties to churches and other community institutions. With these important attachments it is hard to pack up and move on, even if it is for a better paying job. For some it is out of the question so they limit their search geographically. Seven to 10 years ago, the chances of an executive finding the same or similar job in the same geographic area were fairly decent. Today, not so much. This market requires flexibility, especially if you do not feel you can relocate.
The vast majority of people in this category find that it takes twice as long to find their next job. The norm for most executives searching nationally is six to nine months, potentially longer if you are working without the support of a transition coach. So when you decide against a relocation, understand there are some hard and potentially costly tradeoffs, a lessor title with lower pay, a shift into a new market segment, or even a different industry.
Here are three tips to consider:
© 2018 John Gregory Self
I have a following. I hear nice things about my blog posts, podcasts and weekly videos. But let’s be honest, I am not a Seth Godin, who has one of the top 20 blogs in the world, or Jay Baer, who has become the master of content marketing from his home in Bloomington, IN. They are pros, the best of the best at what they do.
I blog for a number of reasons, I love ideas, as a former crime writer, investigative reporter and editor, I enjoy the creative process, and because I write about the work about which I am passionate. Writing is part of my journey to be the best I can be in this field.
What Will It Take?
Have you ever thought about what it would take to be the best of the best? Seriously, have you ever sat down and taken a deep dive reflection about your knowledge, skill sets and record of accomplishments and then measured your work against those who are considered industry leaders and thought gurus? It is a humbling exercise, let me assure you.
This brings me to an important question we all need to ask from time to time: What are we not doing, what keeps us from breaking out and attracting the kind of attention that would assure that the rent and light bill will be paid long into the future with no muss or fuss? What steps do we need to take that will help propel ourselves into the exclusive ranks of “sought after thought leader?”
There are bloggers who argue that there are simple formulas for success. I don’t know about you, but after clicking on the link to learn a life-changing truth in this or that article, I am always underwhelmed. It seems that the writer’s formula for success is to follow an internet formula that happens to be a hot strategy to “build traffic.” It is all about clicks, page views, and shares.
No Easy Answers
I doubt seriously that in clicks, page views and shares that you are going to find a real pathway or real insight to find the work about which you can be passionate or the secret that will propel you to the top of your field.
My advice to you is to discount all of that. You may find some inspiration but finding the secrets for your success will not be in a list of five or six statements.
Follow your passion. Think deeply, carefully and courageously about your career today. Is this really the work you love to do? Is there something you would be more happy doing? I know, that is easy advice to give and I appreciate that there are often very real, tough financial realities that must be accommodated. I get that. But you only have one life. If you come to the end and you cannot truly say, “ I have loved the work that I have done,” how will you feel?
I know executives who have been terminated or laid off several times. Instead of thinking seriously about whether they are truly satisfied with their work, they simply ask outplacement coaches and recruiters to find them the same job in another city. You know, in your heart of hearts they are just going through the motions to pay life’s bills. That is sad. I always challenge them to take that deep dive.
There is always another door to happiness. But if you do not sit down and take the time to challenge yourself and your career goals, and to allow yourself to dream of what could be, you are probably missing the last train to happiness.
I invite you to join me for our career video this Saturday. You can find my channel on YouTube.
ACHE CONGRESS PRESENTATION
Join Dianne Dismukes, and me at the ACHE Congress on Wednesday, March 28 for a 90-minute course on interviewing skills for senior executives. We will help you learn how to differentiate yourself from an increasingly crowded market.
© 2018 John Gregory Self
Most executive candidates rarely differentiate themselves from their competition. They use the same predictable resumes and bland performance in interviews.
Today’s big idea: I will provide examples of a storytelling approach in an interview that will make you stand out from the competition.
Storytelling is a special art form. This is especially true for the job interview. It is a powerful tool but you must understand its limitations. There are some questions that are not storytelling qualified, they beg for a straight forward, fact-based response. There are other important questions that are ideally suited to answer in a story format.
Here are some examples from my career. I hope they help you see the opportunity to enhance your own storytelling skills.
Tell me about a person or an event that changed your career trajectory.
The person was William F. Smith. At the time he was CEO of Houston’s Hermann Hospital. I was the Director of Community Relations, having just left a three-year stint at The Houston Post where I worked as an editor, crime writer and investigative reporter.
Hermann was struggling financially and Bill had been brought in to lead a turnaround.
Bill had been introduced to the idea of having a helicopter ambulance based at Hermann. He felt this would dramatically enhance the hospital’s image as a teaching hospital and trauma center.
I thought the idea was risky and was not convinced that it would work. I had been on the due diligence team that visited St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver where the first and only hospital-based helicopter was located.
One day several months later, as I was talking down the hall near the administrative offices, I saw Bill. He had been cornered by the Chief of Neonatology who was giving him grief for not providing his unit financial support. As I got closer, I heard the physician say, “And why are you undertaking that expensive helicopter program? You don’t have anyone on your staff who can take that program on.” Smith looked up, look at me and said loudly, “John Self is going to run it and he will sink with it or swim with it.”
I got to lead a great implementation team. Life Flight quickly became a very successful program. Within 16 months I was named National Marketing Manager for the aircraft company’s new medical division. I helped set up the next 13 programs nation-wide.
That 15 or 20 second event changed my life in a way that I could never have imagined.
Here is another example:
Tell me about your biggest career mistake.
In 1994, I formed an executive recruiting firm, JohnMarch Partners. Over the years I built up the business and we enjoyed some success. But access to capital was a challenge and I felt that with additional financial resources we could grow the company into a national presence.
In 2002 I took on a partner who said he would bring capital for expansion. My mistake was that I did not follow my own recruiting process. My advisors urged me to form the partnership and I allowed myself to be swayed by their thoughts. I did not really think through issues of style, personality, or even politics. He was a good man but we were very different people and both of us liked to have control. In the end he put the money in infrastructure and not on business development.
Our relationship did not work and, following a very bad year in 2009, I decided to leave the company that I had formed 16 years earlier. I had to walk away to survive financially. It was a tough, emotionally wrenching experience. The good news is that there is a great ending to this story. So what did I learn? I learned that I should always trust my instincts. Deep down I knew that my partner and I were not a good fit but I lacked the courage of my convictions. This experience turned into a positive one, not a personal disaster.
We have all had setbacks in our careers so do not be afraid to disclose a negative event, but always end the story on a positive note with important lessons learned.
What is your biggest weakness?
I can be too verbal. My father once said about me, “This kid could chat up a brick wall.” Thankfully I have learned some techniques that help me moderate that gift before it drives people crazy. Even my wife says that I am so much better than I used to be.
Don’t try to give a lame answer in an effort to avoid being negative. We all have weaknesses. Embrace them in a positive way. I recently ran into a colleague who interviewed me years ago. He said he always remembered my father’s line about chatting up a brick wall.
Now, here are two other career management tips:
Losing a job can be a positive event. Oh sure, there are certainly financial and emotional challenges but once you get past the shock and anger, it is important to take inventory of who you are and what you are doing. Think about the next steps in your life and then put together a plan to find your next better job. Ask yourself if you are doing the work about which you are passionate? Does the work make you happy. If you are not happy, do not make the mistake of looking for the same job in a different city.
Establish a job search routine. Set weekly and daily goals and keep a journal of your activities. You will have some setbacks but get back up and work your plan. You cannot afford to let your disappointments keep you from doing everything you can to land your next position. Every day you do not look for work can add up to a week to the time you spend out of work.
If you plan to attend the ACHE Congress later this month in Chicago, I will be teaching a course on interviewing skills for senior executives on Wednesday afternoon at the Hyatt Regency. Even if you cannot attend this session, stop by and say hello. I would love to meet you.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for listening.
SelfPerspsective is produced by JohnGSelf Partners in collaboration with Liberation Syndication. You can subscribe on our website, johngself.com or on iTunes.
© 2018 John Gregory Self