Blow The Whistle…

Originally posted on Healthcare Informatics

Quite frankly, I don’t care if it’s a whistle/horn/megaphone or just a simple e-mail or phone call. If, as a hiring manager, you engage in a search assignment (internally or externally) and something significant changes on your end, you owe an explanation to the organization you represent as well as your search partner and the candidates (they have rights too). You-the-hiring-manager will look (really) bad if something has changed that could impact your hiring decision and you just bury your head is in the sand and don’t tell anybody. It’s just bad business, period. Collaboration is the key here.

Things happen – I get that. The game-changer could be budget, new management, or something more significant like a merger or acquisition that will directly affect the people involved in the hiring food chain. I’m not saying you need to share confidential information, but you do owe formal notification to all of the stakeholders. Tell them that you are delaying/making major changes to the search – sooner rather than later.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of situations, and not knowing where things stand is no fun. Quite frankly, it’s (totally) unprofessional – it makes the candidates nervous and sends the wrong message about your organization to the marketplace. While you may just be the messenger (router) through which the information flows, DON’T HOLD BACK.

Bad news can be good news if it’s delivered early enough, but late-in-the-game bad news is always negative. That’s my two cents…

Double Dating on a Search Is Just Plain D-U-M-B…

It’s late in the search assignment– the offer is pending. Just as the sun will set in the west, you can almost predict the outcome. No relocation involved. Salary and bonus are both greater than what the candidate earns today – almost 18% more money. All good. The culture seems to be in order with what the candidate is looking for and the position itself is actually a promotion. There is a love-fest between my client and star candidate. It’s hard to script it any other way – it’s just perfect…. OH YEAH!

The client calls me and as predicted the offer is on the table and NO surprises. None. Time to call the candidate to share the good news. The call goes something like this:

Ring…Ring… Ring…Ring…

(Candidate) Hello

(Tolan) Hi Joseph – I have some good news! My client called and we have an offer! It’s exactly what we have been talking about and I would like to go over the details with you – is now a good time?

(Candidate) – Sure but I have some news for you too. I have another offer and I think I am going to accept it. I wanted to wait before I told you about it.

(Tolan) WHAAAAAAAT? What other offer? You never told me about other opportunities you were considering! When did you learn about this other opportunity – and how long were you going to wait before telling me?

(Candidate) I starting talking with them a few weeks before you contacted me and I really did not want to tell you until you had an offer for me so I could compare it to this one.

(Tolan) WHAT? Please help me understand what you just said…..

This (believe it or not) happens more often than I’d like to admit – and with very senior level executives. Playing the dating game is not wise for a variety of reasons.

1. You just burned a huge hole in the bridge with the trusted search professional you just led down a path fraught with deceit. It’s over – forever. Done.
2. Your credibility is shot. Actually – you have no credibility.

3. Your ethics have been challenged and you lost. You have no ethics and apparently it’s just all about you. You can’t hide those lying eyes.

4. The references you gave me all think you were taking a different job – so you have some explaining to do – mainly about credibility and ethics. Oh YEAH. You have stepped in it – big time.

Double dating (secretly) on a search assignment is just dumb.
Just plain D-U-M-B. Sorry…

Consequences of Resigning Without a Plan…

So, you are ready to quit your job? Understandable. Been there. That was a few years ago. This is now. Whatever you do please proceed with caution. The days of calling your favorite recruiter to quickly hand pick your next gig and land in a couple of months are not completely over – but they are clearly “on hold’ while we all wait for this market to turn. The timeline for finding a “C” level job is (at least) several quarters based on recent estimates. If you have made the mental and emotional choice to leave your current employer I would like to offer a few suggestions that may seem obvious to most of you.

1. DON’T EVEN THINK about resigning until you have landed another job. Period. Do not pass go – do not let your emotions drive you to leave before you have a written offer and you have accepted. No exceptions. No verbal offers – No promises from a friend or colleague. No-No-No.

2. Reach out to a few trusted peers, colleagues and top notch recruiters to get a “feel for the market”. They usually have their finger on the pulse. Get their assessment of what the market conditions look like and what they might see on the horizon. They would be a good barometer to help narrow your opportunity window as to when you might be able to find a new job.

3. Write down the ideal job you would like to find. Just finding another CIO role is one thing. Finding the ideal culture and leadership team would be at the top of my list. Are you willing to relocate? If so, can you sell your home or, like others are you under water. It doesn’t mean you can’t relocate. However, you may have to consider renting your home until the market conditions improve. Not the end of the world.

4. While you still have pen in hand, write down what you like and what you don’t like about your current situation. Are you being challenged? Is their something wrong with the environment or culture? What is it?Is your CEO a great leader – or not much of a leader at all? If you have been with your current employer for years and years you may be experiencing “burn-out” and mentally you may have already checked out. If so, go back to # 1 on this list and re-read the message.

5. Is it time for you to scale to another C-level position? Having run a large IT organization and a substantial budget may be enough to land a COO opportunity. While it may not be for everyone – it’s certainly an option for career progression. Are you interested in taking your skills to be the CTO of a HCIT vendor organization? The buzz with the Obama stimulus package will clearly create huge opportunities in the HCIT marketplace. Another option to ponder.

6. Finally, have a written plan and make sure you know exactly what you want to do. Clarity is the key. Don’t just leave and change business cards for the sake of leaving. Make sure you are accomplishing your career goals and personal goals as well. Your job should be challenging, and allow to you continue to learn and grow your knowledge and skills. Finally you should have fun in what you do! You work over 2,000 hours each year and you should look forward to waking up every day excited about going to work!

Footnote: Oh, about the professional in the photo above. He, obviously had no plan and did not read and understand Rule # 1. Let’s just hope he likes pizza…

Why You Should Return the Recruiter’s Phone Call…

OK – you know the drill… An inbound phone calls comes in and it sounds something like this: “Hi this is John Smith with (fill in the blank search firm) and I wanted to reach out to you today to network with you on a search opportunity my firm is working on”.

You have a several choices on how to respond:

A – You could ignore the call entirely.
B – You could call the search consultant and ask them to NEVER call you again!
C – You could call the search consultant and listen to what they have to say and begin to build a professional relationship assuming they know what they are doing and understand the healthcare IT space. That assumes you like their communication style and their professional style “feels right”. You either connect with them or NOT!

Clearly most good search firms will reach out to CIO’s that already have a job. That is what they get paid to do. Find “passive candidates” and explain what search assignment(s) they are working on – in the event that CIO knows someone that might be a good fit. It’s all about the networking. OK – it’s the “quid pro quo” – you help me and I. in turn will help you (at some future date).

You may think you know – but the reality is that you never know what the future holds. It is a good strategy to have a network of professional search firms that you can call on if you need talent for your own organization – or for YOU! It just makes good business sense.

So… the next time the phone rings and a recruiter leaves you a message – how will you respond?

Will it be A-B or C?