Producer’s Note: Because of technical problems with our web page platform, WordPress, our Wednesday blog did not publish as originally scheduled. It did appear on LinkedIn. This is the second time in two weeks this has happened. In a competitive industry, it is important to note that WordPress offers only limited technical support and none by telephone. We have republished this important post on Wednesday afternoon in hopes that it will be distributed to our subscriber list on Thursday morning.

Once thought of as an unnecessary use of time and money, the importance of developing and executing a strategic career plan is gaining momentum as technological advances dramatically reshape the job market. 

Two Major Developments

  • Seven years ago, the importance of social media in the job search process was debatable.  Now it is essential.  If you do not understand it and use it effectively you will probably be at a competitive disadvantage for all but the most senior leadership positions.
  • Ten years ago employment at all levels was much more personal. That is rapidly diminishing. The use of automatic candidate tracking software (ATS) could be found only at the larger corporations.  The cost per user made it prohibitive for medium sized to small companies.  That is all changing. Advances in technology and code development has now made the use of this technology more wide spread.   Now, when you submit your resume on line the chances are very high that the first person to review your resume will not be a person at all, but sophisticated sensors that may, or may not, read the document correctly unless the design of your resume and selection of key words are on target.

As I watch the disruption of established job search norms I think back to my own career and how these developments might have reshaped, or limited, my career path:

My Wonderful Career Journey: In Praise of Gut Instinct

  • I transitioned from a newspaper reporter and editor to the life of a crime writer and investigative journalist for a major Texas newspaper, working at night on the “mean streets” of Houston where hundreds of homicides, violent vehicle crashes, and devastating industrial explosions and fires changed people’s lives in an instant.
  • From a life of dealing with disasters and human suffering I was able to move into the corporate world at Hermann Hospital, running the organization’s public relations department from an office in the penthouse of a professional building with an incredible view of the famed Texas Medical Center.
  • Three months later, in 1976, I was named the first director of the hospital’s proposed Life Flight emergency helicopter program largely because of my extensive contacts in the news media. It was certainly not my idea and I was not sure the concept would work in Houston, but the fear of failure was a strong motivator to succeed.
  • In a year I had been named the national healthcare marketing manager for the helicopter company and I was being dispatched across the US to share Hermann Hospital’s incredible story of success. At this stage my experience in healthcare could best be described as recognizing a hospital two out of three times, and I knew even less about helicopters.  What could possibly go wrong?  Fortunately, only good things happened. 
  • I quickly learned that I had a talent for selling ideas about which I was engulfed with enthusiasm.  As the legendary Anglican Cleric John Wesley reportedly once said, “If you are on fire with enthusiasm people will come for miles to watch you burn.”  This heretofore unrecognized talent and my enthusiastic belief in the Life Flight concept, lifted me to success.
  • After a brief stint as business development manager for a company at the intersection of Wall Street and hospital management, I was asked to return to Hermann to help build a network of rural and community hospitals which were facing serious regulatory and reimbursement challenges.  Our goal was to help them improve their operational and financial results and to survive.  My experience marketing Life Flight in the region provided me with a foundation on which more success was achieved.  We grew from three to more than 42 hospitals in Texas and Louisiana.
  • I ran a successful boutique hospital management turnaround firm, then took on a series of assignments for a large regional health system in East Texas, turning around their home infusion therapy company, leading the largest private EMS system in Texas through a radical operational transformation, and managing an international recruiting company, working in Canada, The Philippines, Australia and South Africa. 
  • I built two executive search firms.  I have led searches across the US and  in six countries on four different continents.
  • Today, as well as running an executive search firm, I oversee a rapidly growing career advisory services company that provides coaching and consulting support to senior executives in healthcare and other industries. 

I did It Without A Career Plan

This all happened for me without a defined plan.  I am not sure it could be replicated today. 


The technology that is taking over more and more of the candidate evaluation and screening would have probably roadblocked me from several of my jobs where I was able to achieve success and national recognition.  When ATS is making the decisions for who gets in and who is left out, the screening algorithms do not provide for much personal judgment.  The new career management construct requires more discipline and more thoughtful preparation to experience the diversity and success that luckily blessed my career efforts.

AI Will Eliminate Gut Instinct In Initial Screening

As we refine and improve the candidate screening formulas, as artificial intelligence plays a larger role in automating and controlling candidate screening systems, future corporate executives will have to be more purposeful and forward thinking in where they go to school, what courses they take, what degrees they pursue and what additional certifications they will need to navigate the job search technology.

At the end of the day I now believe that developing a career plan is neither a waste of time nor money.  There will certainly be twists and turns in everyone’s career but technology and automation will surely limit the serendipity that I enjoyed.