job hunting

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 

Want to be a Super Star Candidate? Get Happy!

Earlier this week we presented 5 candidates for an executive search. All great candidates. Accomplished, motivated, great communicators. However, our client was not impressed.

Hunter Ambrose utilizes SparkHire. I mention this because I’m 99% sure Hunter Ambrose was the first healthcare recruitment firm in America to latch onto this amazing piece of technology and sing its praises from Hawaii to Maine. When a Hunter Ambrose client receives a candidate dossier; it includes a link to view the candidate’s SparkHire video. It’s 10 questions and 1 minute per question to respond.

This group of candidate’s took the SparkHire seriously- It’s part of the interview process. Unfortunately, they took it so seriously and tried to answer too much per question- The smiles and the personality of the exercise were absent.

When rounding back with my client- I understood exactly what he needed from the candidates. Happy people.

To keep a job, get a job and get people to like you and follow you- You need to be happy. Really happy. You need to exude so much joy, humor and blind confidence- People want to talk to you and work with you when they walk through the office door. Every day.

The great thing about being happy is that if you fake it for even a few minutes- Your brain will believe it. People around you will believe it. No matter how miserable you feel on the inside- Faking happiness will ensure a better day. No matter what.

In the recruitment process we put such a serious (albeit required) focus on the requirements of the position and for some reason we take ourselves so ridiculously seriously as recruiters- We sometimes forget to ask the most basic, primal recruitment question,”Would I joyfully, willingly want to work with this person 52 weeks a year? Would I, with excitement, raise my hand to join this person on the impossible project?”

And, it was my answer to this question, (per candidate) that soothed my clients concerns and elevated what appeared to be the least qualified candidates to the most qualified candidates- These candidates were happy. These were the candidates I had truly enjoyed talking with, learning about and looked forward to taking their next call. These candidates were happy people.

We need to put a bigger, glossier price-tag on happiness. We need to enthusiastically fake it and understand it’s for all of the right reasons. It’s a requirement for success and a mature mannerism every professional should embrace.

Happiness. Fake it or feel it. We all want it and deserve it.

Is my call important?

I learned very early in my career that recruiting is akin to dating. And this week, I had a good reminder of this all too valuable lesson.

Knowing that every candidate has a smart phone and at least 3+ ways to communicate, (call, text, email not to mention social media), there’s no excuse for not returning a call- Unless you find no value in the person who’s calling you.

HA was  in the interview stage of an executive search and there were two candidates- Exceptionally well-qualified candidates who would not return my phone call promptly. Our Client was EST and the candidates were PST and in coordinating last minute changes to the Skype interview schedule, both candidates took their darn sweet time to get back to HA. We’re talking about 24 hours which is a lifetime in the “call me now” universe. Were these candidates without their smartphones, sick, out of range (pretty much impossible) or just didn’t find value in the call and thus the opportunity? To further reduce the level of importance in my all, when these candidates did respond it was….a text.

Men and women have different dating philosophies- One of my die-hard principles is that I don’t call the man I’m dating. Ever.  Yet, I always try to answer the phone the first time and shun game-playing by responding within an hour. Which transferred to a similar situation trying to track down these two very well qualified candidates for a position with an annual salary only 5% of American’s enjoy.

Not returning my call, not being able to update my client absolutely put HA in a needy situation and made the firm look vulnerable. The candidates despite my direct question of “where the heck were you” and you need to return my call within 90 minutes if you want to continue to be considered for this position  were reciprocated with cliché excuses and lame reassurances, (again, similar to a bad dating relationship).

Of course, I should have pulled both candidates due to bad behavior. However, these two candidates were the most experienced and at the top of the short list with the client. The candidates did interview for the position the next day via Skype. They were two of five candidates HA presented. The outcome? Both of the cliche talking, won’t return my call candidates were disqualified. Reason? The Client just didn’t like them- They seemed distant and not very excited about the opportunity. (I knew the feeling).

I called both candidates to share the news- Respectfully, directly and compassionately. Their response? Shock and dismay! (Finally an emotional response,  yet a little too late).  They both wanted that position so badly, felt they were perfect for it!  What went wrong? How could they not be invited for an onsite interview / second date?

People do what they want to do. They return the business calls and the personal calls which are exciting, valuable and or contribute momentarily to their wants and needs. They are charming, engaging and attentive for all of the same reasons.   (We at Hunter Ambrose are certainly not above this primal professional instinct despite our continued efforts for self-improvement).

Yet, when things don’t go our way, when situations don’t result in our favor, the why too often lies in that we just didn’t respond, engage or just show up. We didn’t treat the situation and the stakeholders  as “important.” And the result is far too many missed opportunities, every time.

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!