Month: August 2013

Job-hunting and the Ageism Pitfalls

Within the past 2 years, Hunter Ambrose has placed 10 candidates who were eligible for retirement. In addition to placing 6 candidates who were 70 years old.  All of these candidates were chosen, not because our client was desperate, rather because each candidate was the most qualified and the best fit for the hospital and the community.

I anticipate the 75 year old candidate is on the horizon. Baby boomer candidates are living longer and shunning retirement. All to the satisfaction of some very lucky organizations.

Baby boomer candidates fall into two categories- The super healthy, motivated and current in Column 1 and Column 2 is the candidate who at 55 acts, thinks and works with an antiquated methodology that will force him/her into retirement regardless of best intentions.

Top 10 Behaviors to Avoid for the Baby Boomer Candidate:

  1. Your email address– If you have AOL, EarthLink, sbcglobal, att or your cable provider-  You’re obviously about 30 megabytes behind on the IT age. Get a Gmail or yahoo and get current. And learn to deal with SPAM because a recruiter or employer email will probably end up in SPAM if your settings are too high.
  2. Smartphone– If you have to go home to check an email- You’re not a marketable candidate. Get a smart phone, add your email account, embrace texting and join the 24.7 world. If you’re looking for a job and don’t respond to our email within a few hours- We’re moving on. After all a text, an email, etc. takes less than 60 seconds to generate.
  3. Storytelling– Nothing shows a candidate’s age more than answering a question or laying out a strategy with, ” a story.” Here’s the burn- No one cares. Don’t tell us what happened a few years ago and paint a golf-course story with your verbal paintbrush. Tell us the problem, the solution and how you held everyone accountable- And in less than 90 seconds would be great.
  4. I have to talk to my husband-wife…Before you start a job search, decide whose job is driving the train and then decide on your non-negotiables. With the power of the internet you can get a pretty good visual picture of the area where you’re considering. If you want your spouse to attend the onsite, he/she needs to be available at the convenience of the prospective employer. Talk through the non-negotiables with your spouse before you start a job search. And, for the sake of a good job search, be prepared to answer the inevitable questions without having to “talk to your spouse” thus delaying what needs to be a timely process.
  5.  Your attire- Most hospitals have gone business casual which provides a broad spectrum of fashionable yet comfortable attire choices. If you’re wardrobe hasn’t changed in the past 10 years and the “comfort factor” is the top priority- Make an appointment with a personal shopper, (typically no charge) at Macy’s, Dillard’s or Nordstrom’s. Clothes do make the candidate! Even if you’re just upgrading the classics strive to look a little more polished and little less 1990’s.
  6. References– If you are of retirement age and your references are retired, we might have a problem. References should be currently employed professionals. Most reference reports today start or end with an online aggregated report, (such as Skill Survey or Checkster). References who are retired and don’t’ check their email often reflect negatively on what could be a well-qualified candidate waiting for a great offer.
  7. Benefits– If your top priority in a job search is health benefits and retirement- You need to be applying with for a job with the federal government or looking for a union job.  Health benefits are being re-worked, modified and reduced depending upon the organization and pensions are a thing of the past. Making benefits a priority questions if your motivation is the position or just beefing up your retirement account and or dealing with a current health crisis.
  8. Computer skills– In addition to your smart phone and new email address- Know thy computer. Every candidate, (from new grad to RN’s to CEO’s) are expected to be highly proficient in word, outlook, internet research and at least capable in excel.  You need to know how to setup a computer, (a first day solo challenge at Apple), connect to a printer and basically function at your pay scale when it comes to computer know-how. Super user knowledge of an EMR system is a baseline requirement. And the good news is, if you’re not proficient there are a 101 opportunities to learn online.
  9. Recreational activities- I’m constantly surprised that our baby boomer candidates appear to be healthier and more “outdoorsy” than our early 40’s candidates. We’ve had 65 year old candidates who have run marathons, do kickboxing before work or wouldn’t consider living someplace where he/she couldn’t ride their bike to work. Recently an “average” candidate (who happened to be over 55), caught the attention of the search committee because he’s completed two Tough Mudder events. (The insane obstacle course designed by British Special Forces). Making exercise part of your daily schedule will show in your appearance and attitude. And, it’s a great conversation topic during the interview and new-hire phase.
  10. What are you reading? My children are 16, 19 and 22. I’m constantly amazed at the number of online publications they read, share and talk about. From national and international news to music, culture and the bizarre.  If the average CEO reads 2 hours per day- What about everyone else? Your daily reading routine should include at least 2 national newspapers, (I prefer the WSJ and the NY Times), your professional association publications, something for professional development and something for fun. Start reading, get current and broaden your reading horizons.

And most importantly, don’t think about retirement! This is healthcare and on any given day there are over 150,000 unfilled healthcare positions in the United States. We need every capable healthcare professional to stay in the game as long as possible!