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 Our overarching theme for today’s podcast is Conventional Wisdom. 

Here is today’s rundown for the podcast:

First up, we revisit last week’s weekly video blog on an early trend in healthcare that I believe has real merit for personal career brand management and to help in finding your next better job.   That tool has been around for a while but many candidates avoid it like the plague – video – specifically a video resume or professional overview.

Next, we will focus on the common phrase “Bigger is Not Better.”  As the transformation of healthcare continues apace with changes that will alter our current business model, some health systems are eying mergers, apparently believing that bigger is better.  Bigger is just bigger and less nimble.

Before we begin, let’s talk a bit about Conventional Wisdom, what it means and how it is used in today’s healthcare lexicon.

The origin of Conventional Wisdom:  The use of the phrase Conventional Wisdom dates back to 1838.  Over the years its use has evolved in a wide number of ways, to connote a positive view, to express neutrality or more recently in a  pejorative sense, as in a phrase that I have used many times in the past:  Conventional wisdom is seldom right.”

In modern times, the phrase has been credited to the late Professor John Kenneth Galbraith, an economist, John F. Kennedy confidante and one-time Ambassador to India, who wrote this in his 1958 book, “The Affluent Society.”  

“It will be convenient to have a name for the ideas which are esteemed at any time for their acceptability, And it should be a term, that emphasizes the predictability.  I shall refer to these ideas henceforth as the conventional wisdom.”

There you are, a brief overview of the phrase “conventional wisdom”.

Video bios for career management: Now, the use of video in career brand management and in your job search.

As I said in Saturday’s video blog which you can view on our John G Self YouTube channel or at our website, JohnGSelf.Com, five years ago the idea of an executive using a video to promote his or her career brand or to leverage their reach and connectivity, was approaching sacrilege. It was unheard of in healthcare.  Yes, there had been some early adapters in technology, creative communications and even investment banking when students from second-tier schools used videos to try to capture the eye of Wall Street recruiters.  But healthcare?  It was frowned on.  Self respecting executives just didn’t do that kind of thing and hope to have any credibility with the mainstream players.

Call it conventional wisdom.

Five years ago, two years ago, even last year, I might have agreed.  But now I am not so sure.  

Heresy in the ranks of recruitment?  No, I think I am becoming comfortable with the merger of several demographic and structural realities.  

Demographically, we are seeing the emergence of young executives from the  Millennial cohort, and right behind them is Generation Z, both of which are comfortable with the use of videos for information and connection.  Video will only become a bigger part of the talent acquisition process.  In my own company, we use video interviewing extensively, both with Skype for get acquainted interviews and with videotape of a portion  of our face-to-face interviews with recommended candidates.  We use those videos in our candidate presentations to the client.  Not being open to the use of video bios or career brand statements by executive candidates struck me as being a little out synch with our own uses of the medium. 

The other driver for the advantages of using video for personal brand promotion and in a job search is the structural change of healthcare.  With the evolution of our business model — which is to say how we will be reimbursed for delivering care — healthcare organizations must hire better people and then work diligently to keep them engaged in the mission, vision and values of the organization.  Turnover, a very real cost, is not something health systems, hospitals and other providers can afford. There is an emerging sense that video resumes or web-based bios can be valuable in helping corporate and agency recruiters find the right qualified applicant while improving transparency.  

This is an evolving subject matter so stay turned for more updates as we see what works and what doesn’t.  But, if you rely on the current conventional wisdom regarding managing your career brand you may miss the video wave.

Last Saturday’s video blog outlined some guidelines for using video so check it out at John G Self YouTube, click the videos tab.  Or you can go to and click blog/podcast tab.  We have more than a thousand video, audio and written posts on career management issues and they are available to you for downloading at no cost.

Health Systems Claim Bigger Is Better:  That is what some large health systems would have you believe even though there is evidence that several academic studies show consolidation actually fuels an increase cost, not a reduction as the merger partners would have you believe. Bigger means more clout against insurance companies. 

Several newer studies suggest that after several years of the marriage, with a zealous effort to reduce costs — which usually means reducing the head count and shuttering duplicative services — the merged organization has seen a reduction in their monthly cost of  operation.  What remains to be seen is whether their cost reduction will translate into lower costs for patients.  The history in that regard has not been supportive of the industry consolidation trend.  In fact, there is evidence that one underlying reason for some of the mergers is to maximize market strength to improve negotiating position with the insurance companies.  

The other factor that has yet to receive scrutiny is whether the bigger is better claim promotes, or restrains, innovation in a larger, frequently more bureaucratic system. 

From the vendor side, the bigger is better claim rests more firmly on several issues:

  • The ability to scale
  • The ability to leverage volume for lower costs

Those are important issues to consider. 

When it comes to innovation, the importance of the size of an organization is more tenuous.  In fact, in the search industry, if you look at the major multi-national or national search firms, there is precious little evidence that size enhances opportunity for innovation. The bigger health systems feel that they must deal with the bigger search firms. In fact, based on the lack of innovation one might easily conclude that size is a limiting factor in promoting innovation and improved value at a lower price point.   The larger search firms take the view: why change your current business model, which in the case of the executive search industry is pretty much the same over the last 50 years, when clients are not demanding innovation?  

Consider this, I think innovation is driven more by desire to improve service, results and value for clients, thus creating or improving your competitive market position. The larger firms who capture a huge share of the C-suite engagements and who do not feel client pressure to improve value, are not going to look for creative ideas that might erode their profitability.  Boutique firms like ours and others, are where the real innovation and value creation will occur. 

This theory that bigger is NOT always better, is not narrowly limited to executive search, it covers a wide range of industrial sectors and businesses, including health systems and hospitals. 

At JGSP, we choose to remain small so we can effectively and efficiently embrace innovation and change.  We like the flexibility of looking for ways to  innovate and enhance value for our clients.  

So the question of whether bigger is better in the healthcare industry depends on the beholder.  

As I said earlier I think the most accurate thing that can be said is Bigger is simply bigger and, without a doubt, less nimble.   

As we wrap up for today, here are our two key career tips.

Career Tip One:

A job applicant experienced a career epiphany the other day when he realized that once he was selected for a face-to-face interview with the search consultant, that the recruiter actually wanted him to do well.  Not that the recruiter had any favorites among the candidate panel, but this veteran of 10 years of helping a partner recruit executives, genuinely seemed interested that this applicant present well and “kill” the interview.  He even offered some advice on three or four critical questions.

Do not be surprised when a recruiter’s mood shifts from skepticism or neutrality to being more supportive for your success.   It is, after all, in their business interest for their panel of candidates to perform above the client’s expectations. Nothing subversive just common sense.  Understanding this dynamic can help you strengthen performance, especially if the recruiter shares “off-the-grid” business intelligence regarding the client. Even if you do not get the job, a sterling performance in the interview will earn you the gratitude of the search consultant which could lead to other search opportunities.

The one thing an executive never wants to do is “tank” a job interview because that candidate thinks they have a better job already lined up.  That is one of the worst things a candidate can do.  When recruiters get feedback from the client, and they hear that a candidate did a terrible job to the great scorn of the client, well, there is a good chance that recruiter will not make the same mistake twice. Recruiters who have been embarrassed by job applicants have the memories of elephants. 

Career Tip Two

If you feel your career is stuck, either because you have made some missteps in terms of your selection of jobs, or in performance, seek outside career counsel.  There is a good chance your intuition is right.

You may not think anyone else will notice  that you are stuck but smart talent acquisition consultants will know.  There are tell tale signs, and the good recruiters will pick them up.  In other words, if you are struggling in your career, take a time out, ratchet up your courage and ask for help. It could be one of the best things you do to get your career back on track.

We Are Taking A Break:  We will be taking a break from the blog and the podcast during the month of August but remember we have a searchable archive of career management  blogs, videos and podcasts available all the time at JohnGSelf.Com.

I will see you Saturday morning with our regular video blog at  JohnGSelf.Com or on YouTube at John G Self.  Click the video tab on our YouTube channel home page.  

SelfPerspectice is produced by JohnGSelf + Partners, Executive Search and Career Transitions in collaboration with Liberation Syndication. You can subscribe at or on iTunes.