Please. Retire the Cover letter.

Vintage typewriter

Dear Hiring Managers- Are you requiring applicants to submit a cover letter with their resume? If yes, please stop. You are missing out on your best candidates.

And for every candidate who has written a cover letter; you have my sympathy and  support to reject this antiquated, subservient request of a prospective employer who has not even acknowledged your existence on earth.

Employers. It’s time to treat candidates as you would want to be treated. I’ve heard the responses “we get so many applicants,” or ” I can’t sift through all of these resumes.” So adding more paper to the process makes sense?

What is slighting to me is when an employer is hiring for an entry level or service position and they want a cover letter. Sure. Because so many of us at one time have raised small children while commuting an hour to work, only to be excited about applying for a position but too exhausted to spend 30 minutes of precious sleep once the house was quiet.

Applying for a leadership position? As an executive you may be  asked to fill out a full application  (including social, home address and date of birth because that’s needed to evaluate a candidate’s skills),  provide a cover letter detailing interest in the position and upload a resume. This  is an unreasonable request before HR acknowledges the candidate’s existence.

Unemployment is at 3.7%. Hiring Managers! You are loosing out on great candidates by treating them as if its 2008 and Lehman Brothers best and brightest are now applying for cashier positions at Quick Trip. Please stop. 

It’s hard to find to great talent and making the application process cumbersome is a contrary hiring strategy. An employer who has not  expressed interest in a candidate, especially if they’re not a Fortune 1000 or offering a six figure position- Need to retire the cover letter request.

Every business should put their HR team through the application process. How long does it take, does it feel invasive, punitive, boring? Probably all of the above. If you want top talent, retire the cover letter, streamline your application process to 10 minutes or less and start reading what’s relevant.

I guarantee once you have a qualified candidate in the process he/she will write any letter you want, take any personality test or or jump through your corporate hoops.

Happy hiring.



What’s motivaing your job search? Nicole Barbano, CEO Hunter Ambrose Executive Search firm

pink employment istock .jpgAfter leading Hunter Ambrose for 13 years and recruiting for 20- I’m consistently amazed that people either don’t know what motivates them  to look for a new position or they do and they choose not to be honest about it.

If we subscribe to the Tony Robbins belief that we do things for 2 reasons- To avoid pain or gain pleasure- Then being honest about our motivations, our true, bare, unfiltered motivations, is either incredibly pleasurable because we move towards them and life expands and grows on our planned trajectory or painful because getting there is not going to be a pleasurable process. Typically due to the lack of buy-in from our stakeholders, (partners, kid’s, friends and the like). Or quite often a candidate lacks the  practical and emotional resources needed to launch a successful job search. These include time, money, motivation, strength of character and a drop of over-confident near  narcissism tonic required to embark on a possible round of numerous rejections.

In speaking with thousands of candidates- I know that a job search is motivated by 3 things- Opportunity, Money or Location. 

Opportunity. Candidates who are looking for the next step of career growth- It’s opportunity. They’ll go anywhere, typically with a broad 20k salary range to join the company that they believe in, to do the things that keeps them on their laptop late at night to learn, create and implement. Every organization wants candidates who are driven by opportunity. However many organizations don’t create a culture or a vision to court the Opportunity Driven Candidate. Opportunity candidates are the passive candidates looking for the right position, with leadership who can articulate clear cut objectives and provide resources with  the autonomy required to hit goal.  If a company wants to hire the Opportunity candidate; they need to be an organization worthy of this type of individual. Some of our most successful  placements include CEO’s who wanted to lead hospitals based on mission and providing resources to an ignored population, (quite often the aging, addicted and those with mental health needs). They didn’t care where the position was or what it paid- It was about community, working with an educated and progressive Board of Directors and authentically adding daily value to people’s lives. Or  the nationally recognized wrestling student who just graduated with an Ivy League degree and could DO ANYTHING from law school to the Olympics. Yet  his passion, his desire is to launch his college coaching career with a university that has drive, focus and resources. He doesn’t care where it is, what it pays. His singular motivation is  about creating a program he can feel proud about while leading young men towards goal.

Money. Being about the money is not a rush to judgement from a recruitment standpoint. If a candidate is driven by money for the right reasons- Based on their contributions, I’m all in to have that conversation. However, candidates who are money driven with a Mother Russia mentality, (expecting to be paid based on financial needs of their own choosing and not the delivery of their  results); I have no patience for and neither does a prospective employer. Candidates who say they want to earn more money should be listened to. These are typically the candidates that EARN in spades for their company’s. They are the over-achievers. They know their worth. Money driven candidates know the market and they are EXACTLY the type of candidate you want on your team if you’re in a growth and innovation stage. Money driven candidates are received with open arms by organizations craving people who are smarter than the leadership.  These bright shining stars are hired by corporate America, award winning Critical Access Hospitals to start-ups . Smart hiring teams are  willing  to have a short term relationship with a Money Candidate, confident of amazing results with typically no guarantee they’ll stay beyond the 2 year anniversary.

Location- From caring for elderly parents, to a nostalgic refusal to leaving their home town, to needing to stay in small town America until their 16 year old star Varsity athlete graduates from high school- There a thousand reasonable reasons why candidate’s can’t relocate. Location plays a big role in a job search. Though for candidate’s who refuse to relocate and they’re at the leadership / C-Suite level- Good luck! Because if you’re a CEO of a hospital  or Dean at a University and there are only 10 hospitals / colleges in your community- You’ve got 10 (maybe) job opportunities, unless you’re going to change fields or re-invent yourself. Candidate’s who are frustrated with their job searches are typically the one’s who won’t relocate or can’t motivate  their stakeholders to partner with them for a national job search.The higher you climb the corporate ladder; unless you live in a major city, you’re going to have consider relocating to grow your career.

For candidate’s searching for a new position- Mediate, focus and get honest about what you’re looking for and why. Rank where Opportunity, Money and Location land in relationship to your job search. You’ll know you’ve found an organization or a firm worthy of your time when they’re confident enough in their opportunities and genuinely interested in you to engage in a transparent conversation by asking the question- So….what’s  motivating you to look for a new position today? 

Nicole Barbano, CEO | Hunter Ambrose Executive Search firm 

Nothing Lasts Forever. 3 Ways to Save Your Career from the Next Recession.

New year concept for 2019 with brow pocket watch







Things are good right now. Right? The economy is booming, unemployment is at its lowest rate in 50 years. Healthcare unemployment is virtually  at 0.00%. Professionals are enjoying the accolades of multiple offers, new grads who are in high demand sectors are being offered loan forgiveness incentives. As I write this from Liberty, Missouri blue collar workers are being hired steadfastly at Honeywell and Bayer. Opportunity surrounds us. Summer is upon us and Life is Good. Right?

Chuck Jones, Senior Contributor for  Forbes aptly wrote, “Recessions Start When No One Sees Them Coming,”   

So while executives are leaning back in their corner offices, while 20 somethings are buying new cars and middle aged workers take a second mortgage to remodel the kitchen- It’s time to snap back to reality. This too shall end.

When the last recession hit, the constant theme we experienced with our Career Coaching Clients was- I didn’t think this could happen to me. Unemployment, layoffs without severance, 25 applications and no call-backs, 90 days out of job and no prospects was the norm. Loss of employment opportunity for executives was especially precarious.  There’s only 1 CEO job at a hospital or a company and while there may be a hundred good paying blue collar jobs at a plant- There’s most likely less than 5 positions in the executive suite. Compound that with a refusal to relocate or living in a city of less than 500,000 and you may be  professionally stuck in the next recession.

So, for every person who isn’t ready to financially retire- It’s time to save your career from the next recession.

  1. If you’re going to make a move. Do it now. If you’ve being searching for an upwardly mobile position, interviewing yet hedging your bets- It’s time to make a move. For those who have an opportunity to earn more and leverage a position which will give you new skills, opportunity to add value and expand professionally- Interview, Get Hired and Go Now. If you’ve been in the same job for 10+ years with minimal growth- Interview and Go Now. Learn new skills, re-write that resume, take your LinkedIn and online presence seriously and act like the professional YOU would want to hire for that amazing opportunity.
  1. Something- Something on the Side. Since opening a Consultant office in Kansas City and dividing my time between Las Vegas, Nevada and Liberty, Missouri the past few months- I’ve learned some amazing lessons from the people I’ve met. Specifically having Something on the Side professionally. The work ethic of the Midwest is beyond impressive. I’ve met blue collar professionals who have created lucrative side businesses to supplement their income, pay for their kid’s college prep needs and future tuition, save and prepare for the next recession all with an impressive financial savviness. If you think you work hard- Think again. These exceptional, (quite often not college educated) individuals are out-performing and out-earning their college educated counterparts. They’ve taken the expertise from their blue-collar positions to leverage that into a trade business readily marketable on Thumbtack, Angie’s List, Upwork, etc. And, for the more ambitious and strategic moonlighter, they’ve enlisted their partner or super capable teenage kid’s to create a  professional website and a basic marketing plan. Everyone has something to offer, ( a way to earn) after the 8-5 job. Evaluate your skills, package them into 5 key services and start selling your time after hours. It could be the Something -Something on the side that pays your mortgage when the next recession hits.
  1. Be a Rock Star. Try harder. Are we really working at our zenith when we have a dozen opportunities waiting in the wings if today doesn’t work out? I’ve consistently heard from Clients that (occasionally) hired employees are good though maybe not great 100 days post hire. If you’ve been in a job 1 month or 10 years- We should spend every working hour as if our financial future depends on it, (because it does). From learning new skills, utilizing your off time to do R&D about your competitors, market trends or become more proficient in your IT skills- We can always end the day knowing we could have done more. Being an asset to your leadership, expanding your professional horizons without prompting will give you the confidence you need to stay and grow professionally- Or,  make the jump to a new opportunity when the downturn arrives and forces the professional shift whether  you’re ready for it or not.

Nicole Barbano, CEO | Hunter Ambrose Executive Search firm 

5 Steps to Create Agency in Your Life

Agency is one’s independent capability or ability to act on one’s will

I’ve completed over 5,000 searches in my career and have coached hundreds of professionals from CEO’s, Business Owners and Veterans. The single most distinctive characteristic I have found between the candidates and coaching clients I’ve been privileged to work with is the Ability, the Choice to have Agency in their own life.

Those who exercise Agency in their own life are the empowered, the confident, the communicators and the achievers.

When we don’t take Agency with our own lives – It’s a cycle of feasting and fasting absent of contentment and peace of mind.

The individuals I’ve worked with who make choices for the moment, to feel comfort from a reluctance to let go of a present or past familiarity, who make choices for the happiness of others – These are the individuals who may find success and happiness today but rarely tomorrow. Their upward mobility is a cycle of fits and starts. It’s a self-sabotaging cycle typically leaving the individual and his/her influencers in a cycle of discord and conflict.

The individuals who take Agency in their lives tend to have careers and personal lives on a gradual and manageable upward track. Rather than the peaks and valleys  – Each step, each day is a methodical, well planned step towards to the next level of professional, financial, personal and emotional growth.

5 Steps to Creating Agency in Your Life

1. Acknowledge with brutal honesty exactly where you are today. And however good or bad it is, You are 100% responsible for all of it. Every thought and action you’ve had and didn’t have is exactly the result of your current reality. Don’t like it? Than take Agency in your life to change it.

2. 18 months from todayWhere are you? Engage in the pen-to-paper exercise and focus on Yourself, Finances, Fitness and Family. What are your goals, dreams and hopes for each of those categories? Embark on a vision of your next 18 months with the confidence that your influencers will fully support your choices. If everything that you desire and are capable of achieving was possible: What would 18 months from today look like? And if you have influencers who can’t or won’t support your choices; Then set better boundaries or find new influencers.

3. Make choices based on 1 person’s happiness Yours. At Hunter Ambrose we have a core belief- Only by putting yourself first can you serve others.  This doesn’t negate the self-sacrifice we make for our children, our partners or our clients. Repeatedly making choices and compromises for the happiness of others leads to self-sabotaging behavior to compensate for the personal unhappiness of living for others.  If we live for our own happiness first, it will propel those around us to rise to the occasion of taking Agency in their own lives. To quote one of Ayn Rand’s most famous statements “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

4. Intentional Responses. Practicing the Four Agreements may come effortlessly to many. Thus, we have positive Intentional Responses. However, in stressful situations, when we feel compromised, jeopardized or threatened we tend to act as the worst versions of ourselves.  Our Intentional Responses are typically at their lowest emotional value when we feel our backs against the wall. I’ve seen this happen in boardrooms, negotiations and in personal situations. The more prominent the infraction, the greater the reaction and the less control we typically have over our Intentional Responses – Our behavior becomes a reaction to avoid pain or regain power  in the situation. Practicing Intentional Responses that do no harm is a life long practice. Acknowledging our Intentional Responses that did harm or disrespected others is acting with Agency and taking ownership of our behavior. It’s humbling, it’s hard and it’s always necessary.

5. Raise Your Standards. Who is your future self? I’m always attuned to attributes of others that I admire and try to incorporate those standards into my own behavior to be a better version of myself. My influencers for most of 2018 have been a refreshing and inspiring change. From the Midwestern Client who is a man of few and meaningful words and whose “Principles” we have coined at the firm to keep us in check: to say less and listen more.  To have Agency, true Agency in your life, we must find the better version of ourselves. From how we earn, to how we spend time with our families, to how we treat strangers we’ll never meet again- Raising our standards on a daily basis is taking the ultimate Agency because it forces the hand of self-reflection.

3 Lessons Learned from our Most Successful Clients


  1. Get up.

One of our new Clients in Missouri is a small business in Rural America. As Hunter Ambrose has recruited for healthcare organizations in Rural America since 2006; we’re honored to be retained by thriving small businesses and corporations seeking qualified team members in rural communities. Our new Rural America clients are mostly in manufacturing, irrigation and public administration.

One of our Rural America business Client’s is located about 50 miles north of Kansas City. The company owner is the embodiment and awe of the American Work Ethic.

He is doing double time leading and working on job sites until  Hunter Ambrose fills the #2 Lead position and 3 entry level positions. This business owner operates his company 7 days a week to meet GOAL and become the competition in his industry. He and his crew are working 6am – 7pm, 7 days a week.  Last Saturday he worked 6 am- 10pm, (having had lunch at noon and dinner at 10:05 pm). Only to be back on the job site at 5am on Sunday.

If you think you’re working hard; think again…

There are no weekly 48-hour vacations (weekends) in leadership, there are no 8-hour days as a business owner, there are no 1-hour lunch breaks for high-achievers. Our Client’s work ethic inspired the Hunter Ambrose team to work this Sunday, (thank you TEAM!) and get ahead of the holiday weekend come Tuesday.

If our Clients’ in Rural America, (from our healthcare professionals to our skilled laborers) can get up before dawn on a Sunday to go to work, to meet professional obligations- So can we and so can you.

  1. LEAP

It was September of 2017 that I was visiting a CAH client in Hawaii. In meeting with the outgoing CEO and long-time friend of the past decade; she asked me what my “word” for 2017 had been. This was one of her leadership tools that we had embraced at Hunter Ambrose for the past several years.

 As were having breakfast on the patio at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu; I told her I had selected, “Leap.” She asked if I was living up to it and I wasn’t.

The firm was on a precipice of opportunity, new Client ventures, new service lines to develop. Personally, and professionally I had decisions to make and standing still was not an option- I was in a grey zone of fog and indecision.

To who much is given much shall be required. And decision making by faith is one of them. So often when we get exactly what we want we stand in the glare of the headlights unable to turn right or left. Making imperfect decisions, choosing optimism and faith over the fear of failure is what separates the grown-ups from the adolescents.

Before I boarded the plane back to the mainland; I had made the decision to “Leap.” Most of the decisions from the past year have been enormously successful with a few epic and painful disappointments. However, it is the most disappointing, the most expensive failures I’ve made in the past 12 months that have opened doors to the most extraordinary opportunities for the next “Leap.”

Without leaping, without bad outcomes; the next chapter of growth would have never been presented.

Standing still is never an option; waiting for it “feel right” is an excuse to not having the courage to say no- or say yes.

  1. Impeccable with your word.

While we practice the Four Agreements at Hunter Ambrose; it is the Clients who practice this under the Four Agreements context or a similar methodology who are traditionally the most successful leaders in their respective arenas.

We have a Top 100 CAH in the Midwest that is run by a dynamic COO who is also an attorney. He’s a force to be reckoned with by his demeanor, insistence for excellence and non-mitigating communication style. In completing two leadership searches for his organization last month; my Client taught us volumes about effective leadership and communication by what he said and didn’t say.

The searches hit a few bumps and when those challenges occurred our Client was direct, non-punitive, inquisitive and part of the solution. And, once the difficult conversation concluded, it was not re-visited. We moved on to the next goal of the search, the next level of anticipated outcomes. Our search process was successful for both positions in a large part to how the Client communicated with the firm. We knew exactly where we stood in each conversation, each update. His direct communication, his elaboration of his opinions and decision making during the process was one of the key reasons the search process was successful.

To say what you mean, to say only what is Kind, True and Necessary is a form of self-discipline we rarely see in ourselves or others.

When we are Impeccable with our Word we move our relationships forward by inspiring, validating, teaching and adding value to our team’s, colleague’s and clients.

We wish our Clients, Candidates and Colleagues a wonderful and restful Labor Day.

7 Steps for Successful Critical Access Hospital Recruitment


Healthcare unemployment currently stands strong at 0.00%. 

Earlier this week I had a great conversation with a Hospital’s Board Member to which we previously completed a CEO search. Our Client was a financially solvent Critical Access Hospital with a new campus and a devoted community. The hospital’s CEO was coordinating physician recruitment, exclusive of a firm, and HR was coordinating recruiting for over 15 open positions. The candidate result was typical of the majority of rural hospitals in America – very few and far between.

Rural America hospitals can no longer depend on the old methods of recruitment for successful results.

The Board Member and I reviewed the hospital’s website during our call and after doing a random comparison to other rural facilities; it was evident that there was an absence of “Maslow Base” for Rural America Recruitment. Thus, here are the go-to Steps for Rural Healthcare Recruitment:

  1.    Provider Recruitment – This is the most expensive recruitment protocol, whether it is internal or external. On the home page, there should be a 1-click process to connect a prospective provider with detailed information and a “click to connect” process. Keep it simple, don’t give every detail away and share the contact information of the individual who will ALWAYS return calls the same day and on weekends. The process for a  physician to click the home page, find more information, and execute an action step should take less than 60 seconds.
  2. Build a Staff Pipeline – Every hospital in America has an ongoing need for employees ranging from Staff RN’s to Medical Technologists. While every position may be filled today at a CAH; with 2-3 candidates retiring or resigning; small vacancies can become big recruitment problems overnight. The option to apply for future opportunities should be a recruitment constant. Build a mini-application wherein a Staff Candidate can apply online or express interest in less than time than it takes for a coffee break. When the inevitable turnover occurs, HR has an immediate starting place to fill the positions.
  3. Be responsive – If your HR department doesn’t have the bandwidth to return calls from baseline qualified candidates THE SAME BUSINESS DAY- adjustments need to be made. Set different priorities, involve the hiring managers or outsource to a firm that can run a 360 search or offers RPO services. If you can’t respond in the same business day you’ll never capture top talent on time and in budget.
  4.  Lead – If you want to hire top talent or acceptable talent, you need to lead the conversation. Know your objective every time you get on the phone, close the conversation by either going to the next step or stopping the process. If it takes more than 1.5 conversations to get to a Skype or an onsite, your “talent” is either desperate to be hired or you’re losing your best candidates because HR isn’t’ leading the process. Never get off the phone without scheduling a follow-up call in 2-5 days.
  5. Social Media – The most constant and unnecessary error is that CEO’s and Director’s of HR don’t have up to date LinkedIn profiles or have hospital Facebook’s that haven’t been updated since last Christmas.  Recently I noticed a CAH CEO’s profile that hadn’t been updated since she accepted a new CEO position over a year ago – And, she was spearheading physician recruitment. Your social media needs to be pristine, accurate, informative and timely. Nothing less than we would expect from top candidates.
  6. Reign in the Sacred Cows – My late Father was a hospital CEO. He later founded his own retained search firm in Seattle becoming a leader in healthcare recruitment for Rural America. He had a breathtaking office in Kirkland overlooking Lake Washington and an impressive team of 50+ employees. One of his consistent “bull pit” speeches was managing the search process on the lookout for the Client’s “sacred cows.” The sacred cows are the long-term employees, a board member and sometimes the wife of a CEO who has a disproportionate amount of leverage to his/her position. Their opinion carries an excessive vote and as the sacred cow goes so does the vote to hire or not hire great talent. Sometimes it’s subtle; the longtime and beloved Staff RN who can influence groups with a just a few words, a physician who is underperforming yet the CEO is nervous about disciplining or quite often a potential peer who sees the potential hire as a threat not as a valued colleague. People’s insecurities can tank the best candidate interview to hire processes. Hospitals who can manage the influence of the sacred cows will build a more diverse, dynamic and ultimately successful group.
  7. Know when to hire a firm – And do it quickly. So you need to fill a Director of ER position requiring a BSN and preferring a TNCC in less than a month… Do you post and pray? Do you have a pipeline of candidates? Do you know the cost of 1 onsite or 2 to interview candidates? Do you know how much overtime you will have to pay to fill the position internally for the duration of the search process? Does HR have the capacity to do all of the above and manage the marketing efforts to recruit viable, interested candidates?

75% of first time Hunter Ambrose clients retain us after exhausting other efforts and spending more money than the cost of retaining a firm.

Hunter Ambrose is a retained, flat fee firm with an average fee of 12%. Run the numbers when you have an open position – 100% of the time unless a hospital is hiring internally, the organization will spend more than 12% of salary midpoint in time, over time, unsuccessful on sites, advertising and quite often hiring a less than stellar candidate because they weren’t working with a national firm who can offer a dedicated, national search process. 

Recruitment in healthcare needs to be a process that is constantly re-evaluated and improved upon to compete with the most renown hospitals in America for talent.

5 ways to get your resume read

5 ways to get your resume read

white paper with be yourself everyone else is already taken print

  1. State your intentions

Are you open to relocating? Only open to relocating to Dallas? Never intend to leave Chicago? State what you want and where you want it below your personal information, (and never include your address- Name, City, State, Cell Phone and email ONLY).

Objective: Seeking a leadership opportunity in the Pacific Northwest in a Quality / Risk Management position with an acute care healthcare organization.

If you want to manage your job search instead of it managing you, state your intentions where the reader can grasp the information the first 10 seconds.

2. Just the facts

Writing one’s own resume is difficult. You think you’re amazing and maybe you are- Yet what you believe to be great about you may not resonate with a prospective employer. 

  • Include accurate month / year of each position– Omitting this information is always suspect
  • Location- Don’t forget to add city and state of each position
  • Lead with – Overview of the organization and title (not name)of the person you reported
  • Be specific- Use starting and ending facts to paint a picture of what you inherited and what you accomplished
  • Know your numbers– Include the size of your budget, how much did you save, how much did you earn for the organization. If you’re in a clinical staff position- What were your patient ratios, who was your typical patient, what EMR did you use, etc.
  1. Be a Tease –

What are you most proud of? Is it the clinical outcomes of your unit, migrating your EMR system, leading your organization through a M&A, recruited and retained 10 providers in 3 years?

Each position you list should have one  “tease” mid paragraph to entice the reader to “take notes” and calendar a call with you.  Creating a tease is a conversation starter to demonstrate your qualifications and develop rapport with the stakeholders.

  1. Answer the Unasked Questions – Too many unanswered questions can result in your resume never getting a second look. Review your resume to include:
  •  Interim or Perm- Be sure to specify
  • Remote or onsite? If it was remote- Add it
  • Last bullet – why did you leave the position, be brief and don’t include anything personal
  •  Promoted during your tenure? Include what you did to garner advancement
  • What EMR system did you use
  • Leadership training, relevant conferences and continuing education

5. Show a little Personality- Even a CEO candidate should limit their resume to two pages, (.5 margins, Arial 10). You can show a little personality by including:

  • Add a LinkedIn icon next to your name and link it to your profile
  • If you served on any interesting fundraisers or professional related community endeavors add it as a close to last bullet per position
  • Close your resume by adding: Community Involvement and Interests- Keep it wholesome and professional. Did you lead your son/ daughter’s Scout Troop? Raise 10k for a 10k walk? Or perhaps you’re a 3x Tough Mudder participant
  • Including a few bullets points  insight into who you are as an individual and what you have to offer

Do you need a Professional Resume? Hunter Ambrose has Resume and Coaching Packages starting $495.00. Call 855-245-05090 or email us to learn more