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

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System
7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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16 March, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Leadership
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Employee Engagement Becoming More Important In the Interview Process

Posted March 16th, 2017 | Author: John G. Self

Too many CEOs do not “go to an employee’s office and thank them for doing a good job. They try to delegate that to their HR departments, but you can’t. If you want to be the leader, then you have to appreciate and respect your employees. One way too show them is to get off your ass, go to their office — which might be a cockpit — and say hello and thank you.” 

  Gordon Bethune, former Chairman & CEO of Continental Airlines

Employment engagement is all the rage these days.  From some interesting books like Patients Come Second and Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, to literally thousands of articles, blog posts, conference presentations and consultant solutions, this topic is a remarkable treasure trove for those seeking to profit from the latest management fad.  Except this is anything BUT a fad.

It is a leadership imperative that is at the core of sustainable improvements in performance, service, and in the


case of healthcare, patient care and safety.  It is not a “subject or process” that can be delegated to Human Resources, or some newly created department in the executive suite.   It begins with the Chief Executive Officer.   

If the CEO is not on board with the importance of employee engagement, or if he or she lacks the communications skills to lead the charge, then no amount of money or the best intentions of an “engagement leader”  will deliver the game-changing results that will produce sustainable success. There are no “trickle down” benefits without the CEO’s daily support and actions.

This is not the first time this truth has been put forward, and it certainly won’t be the last.  Almost everyone I know agrees with the importance of employee engagement.  What I find fascinating is that a surprisingly small number of the nodding heads —those who say that it is important — actually will go all in, much less make themselves publicly accountable for the success or failure of this cultural transformation.  I wonder why  since the many benefits are so apparent? 

In healthcare, where study after study seems to confirm that a truly engaged workforce will produce better, safer care along with improved operating results, this idea should be a non-brainer.

I have talked with many people about this.  My conversations, far from scientific discovery, led me to a fairly simple understanding:  That CEOs see employee engagement as a strategy, program, or campaign, not as a leadership philosophy.  Frequently it is used as a short-term plan to address quality or improve morale.  However, seeing employee engagement as just a tactic misses the point and blocks important long-term benefits.

Some organizations seem to prefer paying outsiders huge fees every year to address a myriad of problems while ignoring, or giving short shrift, to the sustainable benefits flowing from the type of an engaged, motivated workforce that former CEO Britt Berrett discussed in a recent interview on our podcast.  It was Britt, who, when presenting his organization’s employee engagement-based business plan to the division President, was challenged by an incredulous division CFO:  “You know this is a business, right?”  Obviously the CFO saw Britt’s employee-first approach to leadership as a silly, touchy-feely that would never produced budgeted results.  Except he was wrong.

Britt’s hospital that year was number one among 190 other facilities in profitability and satisfaction.  Their results in quality and safety, as well as a low employee turnover rate, were among the best, if not the best, in the company. Moreover, his hospital was the first in DFW to win recognition as one of the best places to work in the Metroplex.   

“We did all of this while focusing on our employees and supporting their development.  We did not achieve these results by grinding away on the (budget) numbers,” Berrett explained.

For Berrett and other leaders who consistently produce exceptional results, employee engagement is at the heart of who they are as leaders.  It is at the core of their philosophy and their daily routines.

In the world of career management, here is today’s important tip:  Candidates for leadership positions should take notice that an increasing number of recruiters are incorporating emotional intelligence and employee engagement questions as major elements of their behavior and values screening process.

They can expect questions that zero in on their respect for employees.

If you have questions, you can reach us at AsktheRecruiter@JohnGSelf.Com

© 2017 John Gregory Self

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15 March, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Podcast
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When to Disclose Your Salary, Job Search Strategies and Outplacement [PODCAST]

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

The following is a transcript of the SelfPerspective podcast for Wednesday, March 15, 2o17.

Hello, I am John Self.

Today on SelfPerspective, we answer some questions from our listeners covering career management, strategies for your job search and the value of outplacement transition coaches if you are fired or laid off.

That’s next on SelfPerspective.

Welcome.  We begin with a frequently asked question:

QUESTION:   I am not happy in my current position.  Should I resign before I begin my job search?  How can I protect myself from my boss’s suspicious eyes?

Great question. Let me break it down for you:

First, I am a believer that it is a lot easier to find a job if you have a job.  In a competitive job market you do not want to have your skills or  you performance called into question.  Recruiters, those working internally as well as search firm consultants, are naturally risk-averse.  So my advice is to not resign.  That said, you cannot allow your performance to slip because of the distractions of a job search.

Second, do not use your company email address to contact potential employers.  Some companies have tracking software that looks for certain inappropriate words or phrasing to monitor certain types of employee emails.  The important thing to remember is that the courts have ruled that as an employee, you have no expectation of privacy when it comes to your company computer. If you are going to look for a job, create a Hotmail or Google email account with a professional email address.  And suffice it to say, do NOT use your company telephone for job search communications.

Third, do not store your resume on your company computer. That is a recipe for disaster if you are suddenly terminated and not permitted to download personal documents.

Fourth, if your boss is suspicious then you should arrange telephone interviews on your lunch break or after work.  If a recruiter wants to meet you, then request a weekend meeting.  They should be able to accommodate you.  In fact, I will be spending the upcoming weekend in Philadelphia interviewing candidates. 

Our next question concerns the  appropriate time to disclose your current salary.  Actually, we have had several questions on this subject.

The first one deals with disclosing salary information.

QUESTION:  In my initial interview with the recruiter, they asked me for my current salary.  I was a little taken back since I was not sure I was really interested. How should I respond?

I am a recruiter who is probably an outlier on this issue.  When I provide a candidate with the Position Prospectus, which is a comprehensive disclosure document that includes the selection criteria, a detailed review of the position, the performance deliverables and a corporate profile, we specifically state the salary range.   I do not want to waste a candidate’s time, or my own, if there is no alignment on the salary. 

If you are a candidate for an executive position, you have a right to know the salary range before you provide your compensation information.  I know there are many recruiters who disagree but that is what I believe. 

If the recruiter does not want to divulge that information, or does not know, that is a yellow light of caution.  If you are a passive candidate, that is to say someone who has a job and who wasn’t looking for a new one until the recruiter called you, then you have nothing to lose by asking the recruiter that information before you are prepared to move forward.

If you already know the prospective employer’s range, then be prepared to divulge your salary in the initial screening interview because that is an important element in the screening process.  Just as you do not want to waste time on a job that is below your current compensation, recruiters do not want to waste their time either. 

Whatever you do, DO NOT get to the end of the recruitment process and ask for considerably more than the salary range stipulates.  When you try to play salary hardball at the end of process you can make the recruiter look bad. Moreover, you damage your own brand:  it is very unprofessional.  If you need to make more than the published salary range, ask the recruiter if the company can be flexible. If the answer is no then you should either decide whether you can take the position for less money based on the geographic location, for example, or whether you should withdraw.   Not burning bridges is a smart practice to follow.

QUESTION:  I am a manager for a manufacturing company.  Recently a recruiter called me about a new position.  Within the first two or three minutes, the recruiter, who I do not know, asked me how much  I was current making.  I was uncomfortable disclosing that information regarding a job that I knew very little about.

As a manager or director, your strategy for dealing with compensation issues will probably be different than if you are  at the VP level.    At manager or director levels many contingency recruiters may not know the salary range, or they have been instructed not to disclose that information. 

You may want to ask for more information about the position to determine your level of interest before disclosing your salary.  If you are interested, then you should state your current base salary.  If you have a nice benefits package, then stipulate that as well.  Then you should make it clear what you expect to earn in your next career position.  The rule of thumb is a 10 to 15 percent increase to make a job change.  You have to consider whether this position represents a promotion, either in title or scope of responsibility, the cost of living, and the value of their benefits plan. 

Do not allow your ego to get involved.  Just because you have been contacted by a recruiter does not necessarily qualify you as a performance rock entitling you to unreasonable demands. 

As you navigate through this process, remember that the recruiters, whether employees of the prospective employer or search consultants represent the client, so be thoughtful in terms of your communications when it comes to compensation. I encourage you to consult with your mentor or career coach for advice when dealing with these types of issues.

If the potential employer is a direct competitor you should keep in mind that the salary information you disclose will probably be used by that company’s wage and salary analysts to ensure their plan is competitive. 

In the end, recruiters are trying to qualify you for additional consideration.  You should qualify the position to determine your own level of interest.

Next on SelfPerspective, the challenges for executives who are in the last phase of their careers when they suddenly lose their jobs.   Stay with us.

Welcome back. 

Henry is in his early 60’s.  He’s done well in his career but he needs to work until he is 67 to ensure that his financial reserves and Social Security will carry him through retirement.  But then one Friday afternoon he’s told that the company where he worked for 15 years was restructuring because of some financial challenges and that his position has been eliminated.

He is offered a modest severance plan, six months of salary with benefits and a small allocation for transition coaching. 

Over the weekend, Henry and his wife review their savings and conclude that he needs to continue working for three to five more years to ensure they have adequate financial security.

Henry never thought he would have another job so he has not invested much time with social media — frankly, he thought it was a little silly — and many of the people he did know in his industry were retired or nearing retirement.

Henry did not have to spend his $5,000 outplacement severance benefit — the company said he could keep it if he did not feel it was necessary or if he planned to retire.

He decided to speak to a friend, a recruiter he knew, and asked him what he thought.  During the course of the call he found himself mentally grasping for names he once could recall at the drop of the hat.  His friend the recruiter asked Henry if he had the necessary energy to impress recruiters, many who were 30 years his junior.  He asked Henry if he was up to date on the latest smart phone technology and various apps that these recruiters might use to communicate with their candidates?

By the time the call ended, Henry had a sinking feeling in his stomach.  The next morning he began his search for a career transition coach in hopes of achieving the fashion equivalent of a job candidate makeover.

I am a big believer in transition coaching.  Let’s be honest, even the most accomplished of leaders is not necessarily a leader in the field of interviewing.  It is not something they do every day.  Most executives lack top-of-mind awareness of all the changes that occurring in our technologically driven job interview process.

I have received several questions that were similar.  I picked the most representative:

QUESTION:  I was recently terminated by my employer, a retail company in the midwest.  My new boss and I did not see eye to eye.  I have been successful in this role for a long time and I did not feel like I should change.  I am 63 but I need to work for five more years.  I have been with my company 17 years.  They gave me outplacement support but I am not sure I need that because I have never had a problem finding a job before.  Do I really need to spend that money?  What should I do to get ready for that next position?

Henry and Bob here have something in common.  They are looking for work in a tough market, competing with a pool of energetic, smart and technologically proficient candidates. 

Neither has been in the job market for more than 17 years and, frankly, they have no idea how much the job search process has changed in that time.

Yes,  Bob, you need to invest that $5,000 in outplacement coaching.  Henry figured it out with the help of his friend the recruiter but both of these candidates are facing a tough hill to climb.

Technically it is against to law to discriminate against a candidate based on age but companies have clever ways to skirt that law, and do all the time. 

When older candidates are not selected they are provided explanative phrases such as  “they felt it wasn’t a good cultural fit.”  That phrase is usually wrapped around some nice compliments about the candidate’s experience and performance in the interviews.   So, there you go.

Outplacement coaches can help you prepare for that possibility by constructing a strategy to mitigate any concerns with age.

Develop a list of colleagues,  current or past, who you can refer to in interviews.  You cannot play the memory recall game in an interview because, if the recruiter is 35 years your junior, you just provided a reason for them to question whether you are up to rigors of the job.

If you are overweight then head to the gym, get on a diet and get back to your fighting weight.  Right or wrong, if you are overweight, that is going to shape a recruiter’s important first impression. Of equal importance, candidates who are physically fit typically demonstrate a higher level of energy and confidence in the interview process. 

The top outplacement consultants are going to start their coaching plan by helping you determine your value proposition — those four or five competences/strengths, with quantifiable proof, for why an employer should hire you.  Only then will they help you write your resume. 

The value proposition is integral to the job search process.  Not only will it help you prepare a resume but it will define the types of jobs you should pursue and clarifies your message for interviews. 

You also need to get up to speed with social media and develop a strategy for that part of your job search. Recruiters use platforms like LinkedIn to help them identify candidates.  As a candidate, if you are not proficient with social media, then ask the outplacement consultant to give you help, from creating your profile to executing your contact network development plan.   Social media is very important to the job search process today. 

Finally, work with your coach to get prepared for telephone, video and face-to-face interviews.  Preparation is critical to your success.  It encompasses your strengths and weaknesses as well as the process of researching potential employers. 

Poor preparation is a primary reason why many candidates are eliminated.   In a competitive market that is tilted away from older candidates like Henry and Bob, you cannot afford to conduct an interview without excellent preparation. 

Looking for a job in today’s market is no easy task but if you understand the changes, you have a good strategy, a winning resume and you can make a good first and last impression, you can be competitive and successful. 

In the end, your years of experience and the knowledge you have accumulated can help you eliminate the less experienced candidates.

As Ronald Reagan famously quipped in a presidential debate with his younger opponent, Walter Mondale, I am not going to let his lack of experience become an issue in this campaign. 

I hope this information is helpful. If you have questions, email me at

If you are a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and plan to attend the annual Congress March 27 through the 30th in Chicago, I invite you to join Nancy Swain and me on Wednesday afternoon when we will be teaching the course on interviewing skills for senior executives.

Finally, remember that trust is the foundation of leadership. Truth is the foundation on which trust is built.  Once lost, trust is a hard quality to regain.

Thanks for listening.  I am John Self

© 2017 John Gregory Self

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14 March, 2017 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Career Networking, Career Transition/Outplacement
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In the Job Market? Six Ideas to Help You Land a Job

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

Here are  six ideas that will help you land your next job.

  1. You must adapt.  If you have not been in a job market within the last three years, be prepared to adapt your job searching skills.  There have been significant challenges since 2014.  If you are being laid off or terminated, wrangle outplacement support as part of your severance if at all possible.  Transition coaches who understand the market, including the use of social media, can help trim your search timeline, but beware, not all outplacement firms are equal.  Surprisingly, some of the big names in the field are behind the times when it comes to digital career management strategies.
  2. Be realistic about how long it will take to find your next job.  If you have been laid off or terminated from an executive position, know that could take from eight to 12 months to find the next one.  The job market is increasingly competitive, especially in industries like healthcare, once known as a sector in which employment was almost guaranteed. Publishing, media, manufacturing, textiles and retail are also facing continuing market challenges. 
  3. It is not the size of your network of contacts that matters.  You do not need 5,000 contacts to find a job.  The secret is alignment — how well have you have aligned your professional network with your career strategy and goals?  Quality over quantity is the key.
  4. Do NOT sit back and wait for recruiters and prospective employers to come rushing to you.  Unless you are an industry rock star with a big reputation, that probably will not happen.  This wait-and-see approach will only prolong the time it takes to find your next position. Develop your “next career move” strategy.  Identify companies you would like to work for, and then build out your network to include executives who are either employed in one of those companies or those contacts who are connected to executives in those organizations.  Set up Google job alerts for those targeted companies and work your network to arrange for “warm” introductions. 
  5. Do not wait for unemployment to develop your “next career move” strategy.  If you do, you have waited too long.  The type of networking connections who will help with “warm” introductions to targeted companies cannot be identified and harvested overnight. 
  6. First impressions are important but last impressions are equally important.  If you are interested in the position, be sure to make that statement — close the deal with a short, impact summary of why you are interested and why you think your skills can add value to the prospective employer’s organization. Be self-aware.  Make your last impression lasting.

If you have questions about the job search process, email us at AsktheRecruiter@JohnGSelf.Com.

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© 2017 John Gregory Self

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