Session overview courtesy of BlueSteps

Please note a link to Tyler & Company's article on take aways (which includes links to resources) follows this summary.

Moderator:  Peter M. Felix
Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC)

Panelist: Dennis J. Kain
Tyler & Company

Panelist: J. Larry Tyler

Chairman and CEO
Tyler & Company


What are the current trends in the healthcare industry affecting executive leadership and hiring, and where do you see opportunities emerging?

Healthcare continues to add jobs and has continued to grow through the recession. The sector may slow down, but the need is always going to be there. There are major structural changes taking place, and this is great for mobility. We are also reaching a time where the Baby Boomer generation will begin to retire; this will open up many C-level positions.

There is a demand for hospital-level physician-practice managers. Although hospitals purchase physician-practice groups and consolidate this manager position, we are starting to see a demand for physician-practice managers at the hospital level as few existed. Moreover, the acquisition of practices by hospitals opens up a new career path for practice managers who may morph into hospital executives.

The demand for health IT expertise will continue. Opportunities for IT to improve productivity and quality of care will continue. While most hospitals already have CIOs or directors of IT, those people in redundant positions post-merger are often staying with their organization because there's so many healthcare IT-related projects and initiatives in the pipeline. While those redundant posts sometime end up turning into roles that are somewhat "downsized" compared to the individual's previous job, new opportunities are also emerging for health IT leaders, project managers as well as programmers and other more seemingly mainstream health IT pros. This is especially true if they're willing to switch employers or relocate.

Is it better for an executive to demonstrate diverse experience across sectors, or to focus within one sector? When is it valuable to have cross-functional experience?

There are not very many opportunities within healthcare for executives with diverse experience across sectors. More opportunities exist at the corporate or system level as new hospital construction is completed. Keep in mind, however, that those jobs don’t turn over much. Nevertheless, cross-functioning can be valuable and possible in certain disciplines (e.g. COO to CEO; CFO to CEO; CNO to COO and CMO to CMIO). This is a good time for executives with finance backgrounds to head in the CEO direction.

At what point in an executive’s career should he/she think about attracting the attention of a retained search firm? How should a good relationship with a search firm be maintained that will be beneficial throughout a career?

While more and more healthcare organizations are building their own search departments, these tend to focus on lower-level searches. There has been a marked increase in organizations looking to retained search firms for higher appointments.

Start building relationships with search firms as early as possible! Develop contact with multiple consultants and researchers at various firms, and be a reliable source.

What advice do you have for executives looking to raise their profile and become more marketable to search consultants?

The first rule of working with search consultants – if researchers or search consultants reach out to you, do your best to help them. Researchers are the backbone of executive search; they work with huge databases in which you could get overlooked. Providing information and sources to researchers are a great way of building a relationship with firms. Additionally, knowing a friendly researcher can be very helpful.

 How to get noticed 20 years ago is radically different than how to attract attention today; there are many ways to go about it. Having a client recommended you to a search firm is a great place to start . Publishing articles, writing a blog and taking speaking engagements are all great ways to get noticed.

What role do career-oriented online services like BlueSteps and LinkedIn play in remaining visible and managing your career?

We haven’t had a search engagement in the last six years where we haven’t used LinkedIn in some form. Whether it’s posting positions or using it as a handy research tool, we use it to locate candidates and graze their background.

Our firm uses the BlueSteps database on a regular basis to source candidates. From the prospective of an executive, it is easy to use and offers a huge amount of career management advice.

What one piece of career management advice would you give the healthcare executives on our call?

Network or not work! Networking is the key to a successful job search. You should always be building your network. And if you’re out of work, you should aim to make contact with at least 10 people a day. Great ways to network are joining associations and using your alumni network.

You should keep everything up to date; this includes your LinkedIn profile. Write down all of your accomplishments, and record the date and what you achieved. Back it up with statistics, and drop it in your career file so it’s at hand when you update your resume.

Don’t blast your resume out to people; carefully research companies that you want to work for. Try and find out if there is a search firm that your choice organization works with regularly. Or, use directories to pinpoint search consultants or firms that work in your field or field(s) that you want to move to. Be careful that these directories are up to date. Reputable ones include those by theAmerican College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and BlueSteps.

Age discrimination

Unfortunately, age plays a role in hiring in all industries. If you’re out of work at age 60, you need to expand your options. Look at interim assignments, consulting and international opportunities. It is also very important to take care of your appearance. Aim to look fit and healthy.

Advice on consulting and interim positions

Taking on consulting and interim positions is a great way to stay in touch while undertaking a job search. An interim position may lead to a permanent job, but in most cases, consulting is a better option as it allows you the time to continue to actively look for a full-time role. 

Be sure to read Tyler & Company's take aways from the teleseminar, "Managing your healthcare career in an era of uncertainty" (from Tyler's Tidbits, Fall 2011newsletter). Links to resources are included.