It is good to be back.  I took the month of August off from writing this blog to refresh my batteries.  I hope you enjoyed the re-posts that were selected to fill this space in my absence.  They were among our most popular blogs from the past several years.

New Job Search Reality

As I begin anew, I have been thinking about the healthcare industry of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s and the one we find ourselves in today.  When you look back you cannot help but be struck by a rather stark comparison.   Night and day would be an understatement. Gone is the layoff-free environment in which any reasonably competent healthcare executive was virtually guaranteed work.  Now we — providers and vendors — find ourselves in a business climate that is marked by contraction and layoffs, and the market is being flooded with some very talented executives, many of whom were in the wrong place at the worst possible time.  These changes are not limited to health systems, hospitals and other providers.  Companies that provide goods and services find themselves in a battle to retain client relationships and market share. Unlike those kinder gentler days of yesteryear, fulfilling an order or delivering a service is no longer a measure for success. Clients are less interested in fulfillment, getting the right produce or service on time at the best possible price.  That is now just a minimum level of performance.  They are much more focused on the value-added component — what can you as a vendor do to help the health system, the hospital, EMS agency or other provider, deal with their challenges. How can we as vendors help them to be more successful in fulfilling their mission?

If you are a candidate entering the job market, this is an issue that you, too, must address.

Focused Message

To accomplish this daunting challenge, one that many executive job seekers today are struggling to master, they must have a focused message that clearly addresses how their signature strengths and depth and breadth of experience can help the prospective employer meet their challenges, how they can deliver measurable value.  Contrast that with what the job market was like five years ago. Then, good credentials and a steady employment history with respectable providers would typically be enough to win the day, assuming the candidate performed reasonably well in the interview(s). In today’s market that would be considered the job search equivalent of “fulfillment.” 

Today, job applicants must come to the table prepared to specifically explain how their prior experience will help the client solve a specific set of challenges. In other words, how they can help the employer fulfill its mission.  For candidates who do not have their value statement clearly defined and documented, the job search is going to be a frustrating ordeal.

The resume remains an important element of the job search process because it represents the first interview. But candidates who do not aggressively sell their value to an organization, first in a customized value-based resume and then in job interviews, are frequently finding themselves in a prolonged job search.

The Takeaways:

  1. Forget the elevator speech.  That is more about history than value. 
  2. Develop your value statement.  Focus on four or five signature strengths with quantifiable evidence of your success that can be used throughout the interview process.  
  3. Be prepared to customize your resume for each job search. Sending a generic resume for every job minimizes a candidate’s credibility.
  4. If you are not selling yourself, you are losing. Don’t sit back and answer questions.  Use each question to sell your value to the organization. Showing up to answer questions is just another way of saying fulfillment.