Subscribe For Daily Career Videos, Career Newsletter SUBSCRIBE


The consolidation of healthcare continues apace, reports of troubled mergers and questions about the validity of the bigger is better strategy notwithstanding.

TODAY, our big idea: The executive job market is tightening as hospital systems and individual healthcare organizations attempt to maximize their performance by focusing on retaining their top performing leaders while reducing costs. They are becoming much more selective in their recruiting because they can afford to be: in virtually every search there typically is an ample supply of quality candidates available for consideration.

The upshot is this: the search and recruitment process will only become more demanding for candidates as employers work diligently to build processes to reduce the chance of a costly mis-hire.

This is a topic I have covered several times over the last few years but it remains one of the top subjects in my Ask the Recruiter interactions.

Here are five things candidates must do today to compete effectively in a crowded market:

  1. Keep a career journal, recording your important accomplishments with the supporting metrics to help you make a stronger case than your competitors. Also record your salary information and performance reviews for each position. I guarantee you that this information will come in handy one day and will make a meaningful difference in an important job search.
  2. Understand your value. This is absolutely critical. Too often, outplacement consultants focus on networking and the resume and they fail to teach candidates how to define and communicate their value. You see that in their resumes but especially in how they answer an interviewer’s questions. To succeed in a job search, you have to able to demonstrate through your experience that you can meet the employer’s needs. Today, however, that is not enough. You must communicate, in a compelling fashion, how your experience and your accomplishments will benefit them. You have to close the deal. Today’s Quote of the Day is from the noted showman and promoter P. T. Barnum who famously said: “Without promotion something terrible happens … NOTHING.”
  3. Anticipate the interview questions you will be asked and prepare credible, focused responses. Seventy percent of every question asked in an interview is more than likely one you have heard before, so do not react. Be proactive. Collect a list of questions you have been asked and use those to prepare yourself for the future. Write down your answers, practice your responses— the wording and pacing. Revise and rework and then learn it, do not memorize it. An experienced interviewer can always tell when someone has memorized their answers: too often it sounds like they are on automatic response pilot and that can be worse than being unprepared.
  4. Be a helpful candidate. Unless you are applying for a real dog of a job with an employer who has the worst reputation in the industry, the competition for the vast majority of positions will be significant. I like to explain the competitive landscape this way: if I have a great opportunity, a regional system CEO job for example, all I have to do is walk out the door of my office and whisper into the air, “CEO system opening” and, as if by magic, I will be covered up with resumes — sometimes 60 to 100. If you are a candidate, those odds — 60 or 100 to 1 can be crushingly depressing. So do not think about it. Think about you and how you will differentiate yourself from everyone else. Showing up thinking your experience and record of accomplishment are enough, is a big and very common candidate mistake. It is NOT enough. One way you can differentiate yourself from the herd is to have a resume that is tailored to the client’s needs. Show them you have the specific experience and record of accomplishment they are seeking. Take the time to connect the dots, first with your resume, and later in your verbal and in-person interactions. If they ask for additional information, be responsive. Have references that can speak specifically about your experience and accomplishments that are relevant to this recruitment. This is a bigger candidate misstep than most people realize. Recruiters have a tough job, so be helpful. That is just another way you can differentiate yourself and gain an edge.
  5. If you must use your cell phone, be sure you are in a location with a strong reliable signal. Having repeated dropped calls during a get acquainted call or an interview is a bad reflection on your brand. It is also not terribly helpful. Moreover, do not under any circumstances, believe that it is OK to conduct a telephone screening interview while you are driving. Don’t laugh, this happens. The hardest interview is the initial screening interview because typically it is conducted by telephone. You have to try and make a connection with someone without seeing their reactions. Some candidates who work too hard to connect, end up talking too much. That is why it is so important to be prepared, even for the questions you think are so easy like “tell me about yourself.” That one has tripped up many otherwise qualified candidates. Remember, a key skill set of leadership is communication. If you cannot deliver a concise answer that provides insight into who you are, chances are you will not advance in the search.

Now, before we close, here are three career tips.

  1. For telephone screening interviews, dress up. Do not sit there with shorts and flip flops or in your bathrobe. How you dress impacts your state of mind and that directly affects your performance during the interview.
  2. Do not put your contact information into a document header. It makes it more difficult for employers or recruiters to scan your resume and be sure your email and Linked URL address are active links.
  3. If you are an early careerist in a meeting with a corporate CEO, do not try and give him your resume. If you do not know who the company’s top HR executive is, shame on you. Limit your introduction to your name and your business card. Even if he or she takes your resume it probably will never make its way to the corporate person who can help you get a foot in the door.

In the coming weeks my new eBook on executive recruiting will be available on our website, JohnGSelf.Com. It will be made available on a complimentary basis.

That’s it for this week. I invite you to follow me on our company Facebook page, on Twitter and, of course, LinkedIn. Or you can visit us at JohnGSelf.Com where there is a robust archive of career management blog posts.

Thanks for listening.