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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15 November, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Social Media
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Taking Control of Your Career, Your Reputation

Posted November 15th, 2017 | Author: John G. Self


It is hard to convince a candidate who has not been in the job market for three or four years that the dynamics of finding a new position really have changed.

But change they have. The real challenge for someone who advises senior executives, notably CEOs who are between gigs, is getting them to embrace this change and to see that if they adapt they can actually have more control over their careers.

Twenty years ago the building of a career brand and a national reputation took time, money, and some amount of luck. There were a multiple of variables in achieving this goal, not to mention an industry resistance to embrace anyone who sought the spotlight. Then, taking control of one’s brand was interpreted as callous pursuit, a professional no-no by the old line powers that be.

Many years passed and then, in 2003, came LinkedIn and subsequent platforms that transported the concept of career brand management from the hallowed halls of PR firms to an executive’s laptop. The possibilities to advance one’s career brand without the cost of strategists and PR representatives touting a CEO’s accomplishments to traditional media channels —newspapers, TV outlets, trade publications and industry thought leaders – suddenly became a cost-effective means to an end.

Now here is today’s big idea: An executive who learns the basics of brand management can enhance his or her reputation without appearing to be what was once thought of as headline grabbing self promotion.

But it is not only the Baby Boomer executives who are reluctant to use this new power. Surprisingly, young executives from the Millennial cohort, also known as the Internet generation, are equally reluctant to use these tools, recruiters and career transition counselors say.

As the world of business communications pushes further into the digital age, these skills will migrate from being just helpful, nice-to-know kinds of things, to absolute essentials.

I frequently hear very competent executives bemoan the fact that other, less qualified, less accomplished executives are moving ahead to the bigger and better positions while they struggle to get and keep the attention of corporate or retained recruiters.

That is the beauty of today’s digital platforms that provide global connectivity. An accomplished executive in a secondary market can achieve equal footing with their big-city, higher profile colleagues because platforms like LinkedIn can connect an executive’s laptop computer to literally the world.

So what is the problem? Well, put it this way, if you hope to win the big lottery jackpot you first must buy a ticket. But unlike the lottery where lightning can strike with one daily play, building your brand as a go-to leader takes time and consistency.

Here is the message for Millennials, being from the socially media aware generation will not help you professionally if, for the present, you confine your activities to Instagram, Snapchat or other evolving cross communication platforms. Invest your time in advancing your reputation.

Here are the steps I believe executives should take to enhance their career brand and to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace.

First, the basics: Build an online profile that reflects your true brand with a personality-oriented professional photo, and a career profile summary that emphasizes your accomplishments and career history. Note that I mentioned accomplishments first. Most executives still fall into the trap of producing summaries and resumes that emphasize their chronology, without touting their quantifiable achievements.

Second, you need a strategy. What are you trying to accomplish? It is not enough to win a new job, achieve great success and then move up to the next rung on the ladder. You have to communicate your success to achieve your next objective. Sitting back and hoping that the people who count will notice your success and your value is a fool’s errand in our digitally connected society.

Your strategy must be built around definable goals. As New York Yankees great Yogi Berra liked to say, “If you don’t know where you are going to you might end up someplace else.”

One of the subsets of your strategy should focus on the messaging you want to convey and the tactics you plan to deploy.

But here are some ideas:

  1. Write mini case studies of your successes. You will need a catchy headline to attract attention and limit your narrative to 350 to 450 words.
  2. Look for breaking news or articles that play to your strengths. Write a brief comment on the story and if you have successfully addressed the matter, say so.
  3. When you see your fellow CEOs or former colleagues succeed, write a note of congratulations, including when you see their achievement on LinkedIn. Be generous but appropriate.
  4. Become a mentor. There are always more young executives in search of an advisor. Be generous with your time. It will pay enormous dividends, especially if you encounter a hiccup in your own career. Think like an executive recruiter, you can never have enough friends. And, by the way, if your mentee exhibits qualities you think are good, you should tout her or him on LinkedIn.
  5. Look for ways to inspire others. LinkedIn is a great platform. It is not an open door. You need to know how to use it. If you don’t, you can waste a lot of time. I can help you understand the ins and outs of the LinkedIn strategy but for now, remember this: People respond to positive affirmation. People are looking for leaders who are good people, who are uplifting. This does not mean you have to sacrifice performance in exchange for being a nice person. Nothing could be further from the truth. Results — performance counts.
  6. Extraordinarily competent CEOs, especially those who successfully excel in resurrecting troubled assets, sometimes are reluctant to accept the fact that not everyone recognizes their legitimate talent and record of accomplishment, especially if they see you as a hard ass. So check you hard ass at the door. Do not abandon your commitment to excellent performance or accountability, but stop, take time to build your network and befriend those who may be able to help you advance your brand.

Remember, it is not just about performance. You can’t sit on the sidelines and expect everyone to respect you unless you help them frame your value.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Check out my blog post tomorrow at and tune in on Saturday for our latest career management video.

That’s it from Chicago. I am John Self. We will talk again next Wednesday

© 2017 John Gregory Self

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14 November, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Recruiting
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5 Key Questions Physicians Should Ask a Potential Employer, Recruiter

Posted November 14th, 2017 | Author: John G. Self

The battle to recruit primary care physicians (PCP) — family practice, internal medicine, and pediatricians – is on. Based on the growing shortages of PCPs, this should prove to be an epic slugfest.

On one side you have health systems, hospitals, group practices and their aggressive recruiters. On the other you have graduating medical residents who lack the time or the experience to navigate the ins and outs of trying to pick a place to practice without making a costly or professionally compromising mistake that could delay or derail a promising career. For many it is a hit or miss crap shoot.

If recent experience is any sign of what could happen, consider this: 54 percent of physicians recruited to new opportunities leave within five years, according to one study reported by Select International, a Pittsburgh-based workforce consultancy. On an annual basis, physician turnover averages 8 percent. If you factor in physician assistants and nurse practitioner, the number rises to slightly more than 11 percent.

With the current physician recruitment business model, the growing shortage of PCPs, estimated to be between 25,000 to 94,000 by 2025, will only intensify problems. In the interest of transparency, my firm recruits physicians for existing clients from our executive search practice.

Make no mistake, the pressure is on health systems, hospitals, group practices and their recruiters to get their fair share of recruits from a shrinking PCP market. Having a robust portfolio of primary care physicians will probably make the difference for health systems and hospitals between winning and losing in the marketplace. With this kind of pressure, and given the financial consequences for failing, there will be those on the recruiting side who will do whatever it takes to triumph, even if it means playing fast and loose with the truth and/or federal law.

If I were a medical resident, based on what I know about the inside game, here are the five questions I would ask a potential employer or partner:

  1. What is the culture of the organization, and tell me how that manifests itself with physicians? This may sound like a 25,000 foot global question but it is critical. Physicians cite culture as a major reason they decided to leave a practice or employment. Of course you are going to be told exactly what you want to hear so you need to vet their response. Ask to have some one-on-one time with a colleague in your specialty who has been there three years or less. Have your spouse have a similar conversation with the spouse of a recently recruited physician(s).
  2. Is this a new position or a replacement search? If this is a replacement search, the next most important question you should ask is why the previous physician left. A follow up question might be: Am I the first replacement, the second, or third? In one-on-one sessions with other physicians, test that answer. Did they tell you the truth?
  3. What is the average income of physicians in my specialty after three years in practice? Inflating income information is a common ruse in physician recruiting. It doesn’t matter whether it was from the recruiter or the employer, if a new recruit realizes they have been duped, it is not a question of if they will leave, but when. Again, talk to other recruits who have been with the organization for three years or less. What was their experience? How many patients a day do they have to see to meet the income that was promised? If there is a guaranteed salary, how long is the guarantee?
  4. Are there any current CMS investigations or an existing Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) in place? What precipitated the inquiry? If the violation revolved around physician issues, hit the brakes and begin asking questions which should include: Can I see the CIA agreement?
  5. What is the fair market value for your speciality in the community that is recruiting you? That is important because if they offer an income substantially above fair market value, physicians could find themselves at the center of a very uncomfortable fraud and abuse investigation. For hospitals that are desperate for physicians, this is a tough temptation to overcome. As a physician candidate, you cannot accept a generous gift as manna from heaven if that offer is outside the compensation norms.

If you want to start your own practice and the hospital will offer a net income guarantee, do not get greedy. Some people call net income guarantees as day of reckoning agreements. If you take more than you can reasonably expect to earn in 24 to 36 months you may find yourself in a financial hole from which you cannot climb out. Take what you need, not what will make you financially comfortable because there will be a day of reckoning.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Check out my podcasts on Wednesdays at, or you can subscribe in iTunes.

© 2017 John Gregory Self

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9 November, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management
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Career Redemption Requires Special Skills

Posted November 9th, 2017 | Author: John G. Self

Outplacement is a service that companies provide to employees they dismiss or lay off. Depending on the outplacement service provider, it can range from the creation of a stock, one-size-fits-all resume and some telephone coaching calls, up to 90 days of consultation and support.

career redemptionBy and large, outplacement, like recruiting, is transactional. There is a contract that specifies terms and conditions and, most importantly, limits on the amount of time the outplacement coach will devote to helping you through this traumatic time.

Some of the biggest named firms offer the least amount of support. Without fail, every candidate I have interviewed that was referred to one of the national firms said they were unimpressed and received very little from the experience. Recently, I spoke with one highly regarded CEO who was ambushed by a “pre-existing condition.” He opted to ask for severance based on the conduct of the organization. His health system referred him to one of the national “elite” firms. When I talked with him, 30 or so days into his outplacement plan, he was woefully unprepared for our conversation which I began with, “What happened?” Apparently the firm had not bothered to coach their client in what to say when this critical issue came up.

Sadly, his former employer probably got more satisfaction from the knowledge that they used a national outplacement firm than the executive actually received from the expert’s advice.

In Tuesday’s post, we addressed the issue of resurrecting a career. Many of the most commonly known outplacement consultants are not experienced in this career management subspecialty. It is complicated. Primarily their standard agreements do not allow for an adequate amount of research, strategy development, education and support, to help an executive in a meaningful way. Redeeming an executive’s career can take six to 18 months, a lot of hard work, coaching and hand-holding. And much compassion. But it is important work and it is among the most rewarding things that I do.

Career redemption is not transactional work. This is not something that fits into a basic outplacement engagement template. It takes a team approach, and that is what we do best. It takes patience and ever optimistic coaches who have an unlimited ability to care.

Not every career mistake is recoverable but it is important to know that most are.

It is also important to know that most PR crisis management firms are ill-equipped to deal with this type of situation. They can help you manage the public mess until you are out the door. If you have contaminated medications or if you botch your role in a global health crisis, there are firms that are expert in this type of crisis management. But when it comes to helping executives navigate their way to resurrecting their career from a job error, well the list gets much smaller in a hurry because crisis management firms lack career management and recruiting expertise. There is not as much money in that practice.

If you are an executive who has suffered a mis-step and you find yourself looking for career redemption, unless your action triggered a “for cause” termination, you need to negotiate hard for the type of career transition support that will help you find your way back to a seat at the table. It is more costly than a standard outplacement agreement but it can be career saving for an executive.

Redemption is not a transaction. It is transformative.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, Facebook and on LinkedIn.

Join us on Saturday morning for the release of our career management video — Important questions physicians should ask when they are being recruited. You can subscribe on our YouTube channel page.

ask the recruiter videos

© 2017 John Gregory Self

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