Shortly after I founded Hunter Ambrose Recruitment and Executive Search firm in 2006, we recruited for a Director of Surgical Services for a hospital in Southern California. The community was a depressed desert town with a dwindled population and an aged hospital built shortly after World War II. It was not what we call a “Top Shelf” opportunity. The best candidate was a Vanderbilt educated, CNOR certified, MSN in-process candidate by the name of “Shelia”. Shelia was a Top-Shelf candidate: super responsive, intelligent, solid work history and a passion for creating successful OR programs. The problem? Shelia should have been working at Yale or Scripps La Jolla. Not some 100-bed hospital in the middle of nowhere California during a dust bowl drought.
About 10 days into the recruitment process, her positive attitude more suspect than authentic, I asked her (again) why she wanted the position. And again, she gave me the standard candidate answer; to which I no longer believed. My suspicion of her motives and her lack of transparency almost prompted me to pull her as a candidate. I persisted, asked for a final time, “Why are you applying for this position. Truthfully.” Shelia sighed and after a minute of silence, which was painful for me to wait for her to get honest about her motivation. Shelia responded. Quietly she explained that she was 43, had never been married, and her Mother had recently passed away. As an only child, she longed for an anchor, a home, and a community. During her quest (again a long silence) she met a man online and they had been dating for the past several months. He lived in this small desert town and a move to New Haven, Connecticut or La Jolla, California was not an option. He was a business owner, the second generation to live there, beloved by the entire town, with family and grown children. In short, he was never leaving, and he had proposed. Shelia wanted this job because of the life she was seeking.
If you subscribe to the Tony Robbins school of thought; we do things for 2 reasons– To gain pleasure or avoid pain. And, no one ever looks for a new job because everything is “great.” We look for changes in our careers because we seek more, we’re unhappy with problems we can’t solve, we need MORE (money, opportunity, recognition, experiences,) and or flexibility to raise our children or care for aging parents. We seek change in our careers because something needs to change.
Knowing your motivation before you embark on a job search is crucial. What are you looking for? Change is primarily driven by money, opportunity or, as with Shelia’s case, location. Is the dissatisfaction you’re experiencing in your current job a circumstance of others or is it you? And if it is you; can you grow through that experience in your current position or is facing the internal challenge more likely to improve with a new position?
As long as the economy is growing, an upwardly mobile person is going to change jobs or advance 3 times within the next 5 years. Understanding what’s motivating you to stay or leave your current career path will make the next transition or opportunity for advancement a faster and less stressful transition. And, yes, you will most likely have more opportunity, more money and a selection of positions across the United States as a result of being honest about your motivations.
Shelia accepted the position and was promoted to the Chief Nursing Officer position in 2012. She and her husband recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. She’s being considered for the CEO position next month.