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A surprising number of candidates are poorly prepared to pursue new career opportunities and a growing number of corporations have come to realize it and are now becoming more vocal.

If you follow this blog that fact is hardly new reporting.  What is surprising to me is how many people seem content not to change their approach to finding a job despite the increased competition for the top, best-paying positions.  resume advice

Increasingly, clients and their search consultants,  are becoming more discerning — and rigorous — in their initial candidate screening process.

It all starts with the resume.  This document alone can determine whether you advance in a search or are left by the telephone wondering what happened.

What happened is that the prospective employer was flooded with resumes and their  researchers aggressively and  quickly winnowed the number of potential candidates to a manageable few for more in-depth screening.  They do this by quickly scanning the resume — the average first look time is less than 20 seconds.  They do spend more time  looking at the candidate’s professional summary.  Those that specifically address the employer’s needs are set aside and the remainder — those one-size-fits-all generic resumes — are filed away — either for future reference or in file 13 for the housekeepers.

Here is an example:

Client’s Ideal Description for CFO

A minimum of 10 years senior leadership experience with a history of exemplary accomplishment in leading a financial division at both the global and operational levels with specific examples of building strong relationships with external financing entities and rating agencies;  development of decision support infrastructure with strategic focus on service lines, yield management and improved profitability,  strengthening teams, instituting continuous process improvement,  achieving best-in-class cash management objectives and exceptional customer support for other operating divisions of the enterprise including physician practices, regional clinics and community medicine initiatives. A tax-supported entity, the successful candidate must be politically adept in navigating the change process.

Candidate Responses

While there are no doubt a host of other criteria for consideration, the prospective employer has provided a good initial roadmap for the candidates to follow.   Now contrast their summary “request” with some of the “professional summaries” or “career objectives” taken from hundreds of resumes we have received over the past 16 months.

  • A seasoned healthcare financial executive with over twenty-five years progressive experience with a record of accomplishments in revenue cycle management, cost controls and a total Meditech system installation to maximize return to the community from its healthcare system.
  • To obtain a progressive executive role in finance with a mission based health system that aims to provide affordable healthcare, outstanding patient outcomes and an excellent experience for all.  I believe I excel in strategy execution and follow-thru and motivate fellow team members to their best performance with a mix of hard drive and positive feedback.  I love to see people reach and exceed their potential and advance in their career goals.
  • High energy hands-on individual with professional career focused in hospital financial leadership, management, performance optimization, and turnaround.  Twenty-five years of experience covering health systems and the entire continuum of care including physician practices and insurance operations.
  • Healthcare executive with over 30 years experience in healthcare finance including 25 years as a CEO, COO, and CFO in both For-Profit and Not-For-Profit facilities.  Proven track record of success in assisting organization in achieving budget and growth targets. Excellent leadership and staff development skills. 

Occasionally you see a glimmer of “connectivity” between the client’s needs and the candidate’s offering, but only a faint one.  These candidates probably sent the same resume to every job opening they were pursuing at the time.

A Candidate’s Customized Response

In contrast, here is what one enterprising candidate wrote for her professional summary:

A senior finance executive with more than 25 years of progressive experience both at the global and operational levels with a verifiable record of accomplishment in building effective working relationships across the enterprise, including physician practices, and with external resources.  An accomplished leader of change, succeeded in creating best-in-class decision support strategies including a review of service line performance, instituted performance improvement initiatives that produced significant savings, improved treasury operations, including days of cash on hand, and effectively worked with  politically appointed/elected governing boards.

While she did not touch all of the client’s buttons, she legitimately rang enough of the selection criteria bells to be included in the group of candidates selected for in-depth vetting. 

This candidate consistently differentiated herself by connecting with the client’s needs at every interview. 

Ultimately, she got the job.