How Will You Spend the 1st 90 Days in Your New Job?

(Post originally appeared on HealthcareIT Today)

This question comes up more often than not during interviews, and it’s important for candidates to not only understand the question, but be able to N-A-I-L the answer without hesitation. I’ve seen some answers that were nicely thought-out and…well, some that were really pretty… interesting. ‘Awful’ might be a better way to put it. Companies want to evaluate your experience, education, and skill set to find out if you’re going to fit in with their culture, and once they’ve gone round 3rd base with your candidacy, they’ll want to see how you think on your feet. Plain and simple. No need to fear the reaper – with the right preparation you will do fine.

The fight for talent in our space is fierce, and it’s going to get much more competitive as the weeks and months continue. Many of our clients aren’t just asking candidates the ’90 day’ question – they’re asking that final round of candidates to give the management team a presentation on exactly how they’ll spend their first few months on board. These presentations, while scary to some, are a great barometer on how you present to an audience, handle pressure, and think on your feet.

Knowing a candidate will be able to hit the ground running is top of mind for the hiring manager. They need productive teams, so each new team-member needs to be “up and at ‘em” from day one. Let’s face it: in the HCIT marketplace there are very few companies with a multi-national and/or multi-billion dollar status. In the HCI Top 100 (HCIT companies ranked by revenue), there’s a – fairly telling – HUGE revenue cliff after the top 10 or 15 companies. What does this mean, exactly? Most of the companies in this space are made up with early stage or start-up companies and have little to no training or on-boarding. That means it’s critical to find people that can scale with little or no day-to-day hand-holding. They all want skilled, ready-to-go-to-work talent!

The next time the ’90 day’ question comes up, make sure you are prepared with an answer that speaks to your conviction and passion. It could make the difference between receiving an offer… or not.

Go get ‘em!

Perfect Storm – What Storm?

I wrote about the dire predictions of the healthcare IT talent shortage just a short nine months ago. My – how things have changed. And I do mean changed! You know the story. America was about to see huge chunks of its human capital wiped out by 72M baby boomers retiring at the rate of 16K people a day for years.

Hey – that’s a lot of boomers!

I’m only guessing those metrics have changed and changed dramatically over the course of the past few months. We are hearing from candidates (like all or most of Americans) that are making drastic changes to the way they spend, save and yes – look at retirement given what has transpired in our economy, cities, neighborhoods and 401K accounts. In some cases, and depending on the age and other financial details from some candidates, retirement in the near term is completely out of the question.

However, there IS a silver lining here if you look hard enough. Let me provide some positive upside in all of this craziness:

Healthcare was one of the very few industries that added jobs in 2008 – to the tune of over 300,000 new jobs! That’s huge!
HCIT will get a big boost by the news of the economic stimulus bill that passed today!
EMR may finally get major traction across the healthcare sector as a result of the new stimulus package.
Many new jobs will be created to fill the demand in HCIT on the vendor side and in the CIO’s shop.
Like it or not – this new bill will continue to move the needle on healthcare spending as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product here in the US. Good and bad – right?
We have the potential to create newer and better EMR and other technologies as private equity and venture capital companies invest more in the healthcare IT space.
If you are reading this blog – your services will probably be in high demand for as long as you want to stay in the workforce.
I know the economy is in the tank and people across America are hurting and I do not have my head in the sand – promise. I just try hard to always look for the silver lining. I do remain bullish about healthcare IT!

Now… did someone mention a storm?

Please Don’t Wear a “Members Only” Jacket to an Interview…EVER!
Posted on: 2.15.2009 7:44:57 PM Posted by Tim Tolan

A few months ago, as I was conducting a search for a “C” level executive for a very well known healthcare organization. Let’s just say it’s a marquis name OK? The initial interviews were done by phone and then followed up with either a video interview or an in-person interview with each candidate and myself – depending on scheduling. This is done for a variety of reasons including to really give the search consultant a better feel for each candidate being considered. Clearly this was a very prestigious client I was working for. One might assume that any candidate competing for this position with this institution would naturally put his or her best foot forward. Well…maybe not:-) Are you ready for this? Here we go…

I scheduled the in-person interview over breakfast (my partner in crime Gwen Darling touched on this subject last year in her blog) to see the other side of this star candidate. Breaking bread with a candidate can tell me a lot! He was prompt and on time when he arrived. However, Mr. GQ decided to wear a Members Only jacket to the interview so he could display his knowledge of “dress for success”. What? A Members Only jacket? I wanted to say to him – “are you kidding me” What were you thinking? Or maybe, ‘How’s that working for you”?

The sad part is that he had great skills and matched most of the job specifications to a T. Here’s the problem: He made the choice to dress casually for a very important interview for a very well known healthcare organization and – a great job. His business acumen led me to believe that he did not give much thought to what he should wear. C’mon! His decision making on what to wear really came into question here. I coached him about his attire and then, like Simon on American Idol – I had to let him know that he would not be going to the next round. It was painful – but it was the right call.

I always recommend to all of my candidates to dress appropriately when going on a face-to face interview. Suit up…Period. Usually a dark or grey suit – they never go out of style. It’s always safe, it’s always smart and it just makes good business sense. Although we, as a country are still in somewhat of a “business casual dress” mode in many work environments, don’t take that chance when you are interviewing for a very high level “C-level” position – with the potential employer OR the search consultant.

Dumb move – just plain dumb! When in doubt – suit up!

HCIT – One Bright Spot in This Economy…

Let’s face it – the news about the job market is nothing short of staggering (did I say depressing?). US employers shed 533,000 jobs in November, the largest cut for more than 34 years according to new government data. As of Friday, the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 %. OUCH!! Clearly the country is set for a long drawn-out severe economic downturn and just in case we forget – no problem. The news media provides us with a steady diet of new bad news each and every day. Nice.

It’s kind of hard to take the bad news every day right? Hold that thought for a moment please…
The healthcare industry is a good place to be right now. I did read Kate’s blog yesterday regarding some NJ hospitals and other hospitals across the US. It’s sad. But, while there are some facility closings (in some parts of the country), we as an industry are still better off than our many of our counterparts in other industry sectors. It’s true! The health care industry is one of the few bright spots amid all of the terrible job news we’ve all been hearing about. This year (so far) the healthcare industry has added 369,000 jobs. That’s huge especially in this market!
And… it gets better for the HCIT market!

While global IT spending is expected to contract through next year, the healthcare IT sector should grow, according to new data from research firm Datamonitor. More than 50 percent of respondents saying they’re keeping their budget at the same level in 2009 as in 2008. Nearly 37 percent of respondents said they expected to see their IT budgets grow in 2009, while 13 percent expect budget cuts.

I’m not sure these numbers will hold – as this economy is a moving target and where we all end up is anybody’s guess. I also know there are markets where healthcare has shed jobs and closed facilities. I get that. But…but healthcare, as an industry sector, is still far better off than many other vertical markets. We all need to take pause and recognize that we work in the greatest vertical market sector in the US economy. It doesn’t mean that we need to gloat – but we should feel very good about what we do for a living. So the nest time you leave for work , put a spring in your step as you stroll to your car.

We should truly feel blessed to be in healthcare! I do!!!