This post was originally posted in June 2008, but is still quite relevant today.
The hardest job to find in healthcare is the first one following graduate school or a fellowship.
Consolidation within the healthcare services segment has resulted in a decline in the “points of entry” as well as an overall reduction in the number of entry-level management slots. Ten years ago, there were eight major health systems or hospitals in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Today there are six and the number of available jobs for aspiring healthcare leaders has declined.
While the top graduates of the best schools are able to find quality, entry-level management positions somewhere in the U.S., those graduating from second-tier schools without experience or an existing job often face a prolonged job search to break through.
To make the challenge of finding that first healthcare management job more daunting, most executive search firms with ties to the hospital executive suite will not allocate time to talk with new graduates. Their workload, these recruiters say, precludes them from investing their time with a candidate they cannot use for the foreseeable future. Give thirty minutes for some career coaching? Forget it.
Too bad. After all, we are talking about our future health system and hospital leaders.
I think they are worth the investment.
I will take the time. Not because I have nothing better to do but because we believe that our success is linked to our long-standing tradition of helping others; taking the time to talk with a panicked executive who has been unexpectedly terminated or a young graduate student who is preparing to transition to the real world. Our only requirement is that they be flexible concerning the scheduled time to talk AND that they must promise to help others when they find success in their careers.
Our tradition of helping others began when long-time friend and colleague, Craig Honaman, FACHE, Principal of H&H Consulting Partners, asked me to join him as a co-presenter at the American College of Healthcare Executives annual Congress. Craig is an outstanding outplacement and career coach who is based in Atlanta. We spoke on interviewing skills and career management strategies to senior executives and, in a separate session, to early careerists. We offered to review their resumes. They flooded in. Some wanted a chance to talk, to make their case. The largest number of respondents, by far, were the early careerists. They were so hungry for advice and grateful for our time. We vowed to continue this practice.
This commitment to support early careerists has now extended to lectures to graduate schools and the development of an early careerist database. We don’t recruit the early careerists, but we do commit to tracking their careers if they will take the time to stay in touch with us.
There are a couple of rules: They must be in healthcare. They must provide us with a current resume, and finally, they must commit to staying in touch with me as they progress through their career. At some point we will need a bright and accomplished executive to fill an important leadership role.
And who better to call on than someone we know.