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You asked: career-related questions. (Career Rx).

From time to time, groups of letters come in that suggest readers have an interest in more information on a specific topic. Several physician executives have asked for more information on key issues that would not, however, properly fill out a column. Here is a round-up of responses to career-related questions and comments.

1. A broader perspective

A number of physician executives have taken me to task for focusing on what they should do to succeed--without giving similar attention to the flaws and failings of organizations. One correspondent actually thinks that I "hammer" on candidates and said I should look at the whole picture.

Much of my work as a search consultant is below the surface, hidden from easy view. At the same time I'm working with candidates to enhance their resumes and polish their interview skills, I'm also working with my clients, the hiring organizations, to ensure that they have the most current trends, information, and ideas.

Candidates might not be aware of these important consulting areas that I work on with organizations:

* Reviewing organization structure/reporting relationships.

An organization that is focused on functionality may have issues with structure and reporting relationships. Things change--new needs they can't predict will emerge, cultures and missions evolve--and it's essential to revisit management team issues when an important senior hire is on the horizon. At the very least, this can confirm that things are as they should be; in some cases, it can uncover an impending problem. An executive search consultant brings fresh information and new ideas from around the country that may help the client to reshape and refine the management structure.

* Reviewing national compensation trends. To keep current and in line with other leading facilities, it's important for a search consultant to give client organizations a clear picture of national salary and compensation trends. Attracting the best people requires an excellent, market-competitive compensation package; organizations usually need objective, outside help to look at compensation in the context of the specific situation.

* Aligning expectations and reality. Sometimes, organizations can build up unrealistic expectations about what a newly hired physician executive can accomplish. Good candidates may be daunted. Less often, there isn't the right level of appreciation for the potential contributions of a competitive physician executive. A consultant works with both kinds of expectations-- too high and too low--to find the balance that is right for the organization and the marketplace.

Often, hiring organizations come away from a search with more than just a great new executive. Attentive, thoughtful consulting can give senior management a broader perspective on their facility and its place in today's health care environment.

2. Getting on radar screens

Increasingly, readers are interested in learning more about making a career move to the next level--the CEO position. A number of you have asked for more specifics on how to get noticed as a leader by executive search consultants. That's smart--getting onto the right radar screens can lead to inclusion on "long lists" for high profile jobs. When you're "famous to a very small group of people," you will hear about great opportunities and be considered for them.

My advice, after writing a really good resume, is to develop and work a network with the key industry people throughout the country. Keep in touch, consistently and regularly, to achieve positive visibility. Make sure you connect with consultants in specialty firms as well as the health care partners in general search firms.

And spread yourself around. No one firm has a lock on all the great jobs, so it's worth your while to become acquainted with a number of sources. If you're a senior executive, you'll be doing this sort of networking for the rest of your career, so don't lose heart or get your feelings hurt if you don't hear back immediately.

Networking takes time and patience--but it pays off in career opportunities. Here are some ways to initiate and maintain a network:

* Email a note accompanied by your resume. If you happen to strike at a lucky moment, you may hear from the contact right away. Otherwise, follow up in a month or so with a phone call or another email message. And update your resume when you change jobs or move to another organization.

* Call with news. Everyone likes to be "in the loop," so call your network when you have organizational or personnel news of interest.

* Offer to be a media source. Influential people are often asked by media for sources who can talk on key topics: let your network know you're willing to be one of them. Of course, media contact will also give you greater visibility.

* Provide business leads. When you learn of a potential business opportunity--at your own organization or elsewhere--let your network know about it.

* Do business yourself. When you're in a position to engage a search consultant, choose from your network and make powerful allies for the future.

3. The resume riddle

I get more questions about resumes than almost anything else. The paperwork subject should be a straightforward one. Physicians prefer to use a curriculum vitae (CV)--but the fact is, hiring CEOs and boards of directors want the convenience of a standard resume. (Incidentally, CVs are usually formatted chronologically, so your most outstanding current achievement may be buried as a one-liner on page 5!)

I recommend using both the CV and the resume, as long as they are up-to-date and strongly written. Remember, until you actually talk with someone, all they know of you is what's on your resume.

I recently reviewed one physician executive's resume and called him afterward, as a courtesy. Based on his resume, he seemed to be an entry-level person and I said he would need seasoning before being considered for major jobs. It turned out that he actually was quite senior, with loads of important experience and accomplishments, but his resume didn't reflect his true stature. His go-getter style on the phone (he responded to my comments with, "yes, but..." so often that I had to take him seriously) won him an interview opportunity and I was impressed on meeting him.

Now, with a vastly improved resume that genuinely represents his career background, I know he'll be an excellent candidate for senior positions. He has the skills; all he really needed was to overhaul the way he tells his story. And if you've been circulating your resume and wondering why nothing has been happening--you might just want to take a lesson from this tale and make some big adjustments, as well.

Thanks for your feedback and comments!

Mary Frances Lyons, MD, is a Senior Consultant at Witt/Kieffer, Ford, Hadelman & Lloyd in St. Louis. She can be reached by calling 314/862-1370, via fax at 314/727-5662, or via email at Please fax or email questions that you would like addressed in this column to Dr. Lyons.
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Author:Lyons, Mary Frances
Publication:Physician Executive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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