Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders
Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders

MSA Search BlogInsights from over 30 years of Healthcare Executive Search

Five Ways to Mistakenly Say that You Are “Just Not Into the Candidate”

by Jane GrovesExecutive Vice President, MSA Executive Search

You are an executive for a Medical Center or health system with an excellent reputation in your state, your region, and even nationally in some areas of your operations. You have an opening for a critically important executive on your senior leadership team, and you have retained and A-list executive search consultant to conduct a national search. The consultant just presented an excellent candidate slate, and you are feeling really good. The rest is easy…… Right?...... Maybe not…..

In my 25 years as a healthcare executive search consultant, with the opportunity to serve hundreds of client organizations across the country, I have witnessed some surprising and disappointing “events” when candidates travel to meet on-site with the client. The following examples are all true stories. Do you agree that they scream “We are just not that into you!” to an executive candidate?


#1     The hiring executive (often the CEO) is late for the interview, cuts the interview short, or cancels the interview completely.

#2     The interview agenda changes dramatically the day of the interview; people are late and unprepared when they eventually meet with the candidate.

#3     There is an interview over a meal where the candidate is “drilled” with questions and never is given time to eat.

#4     There is not an ounce of hospitality extended during the visit. No one hosts the candidate, tours them, or offers breaks or refreshments.

#5     The last interview of the day ends, and the candidate is free to leave; no wrap-up or closing meeting with the hiring executive or the HR executive.


Do any of these sound familiar? You may be saying that certainly this would never happen in your organization, and if so, congratulations!  Or you may be saying that it is the candidate looking for the job and they need to be able to “go with the flow” during the interview process; if that is the case, I disagree, and suggest that hospitality and common courtesy should drive your interactions with an executive candidate who has traveled to meet with you.

It bears repeating that the onsite interview experience is a two- way street.  The A-list candidates are evaluating your organization, while you are evaluating their potential fit.  The professionalism  and courtesies that you extend  throughout your direct interactions with a candidate are a critical factor in assuring that the executive remains engaged in a process that can often stretch out over several months.  Even if you have decided that the candidate is not the right fit for your organization or the position, the impression that you leave them with should matter to you.   


Ensure Your Resume Ends Up In The "Yes" Pile

By Roger Samuel, Executive Vice President & Practice Leader, MSA Executive Search

 As an executive recruiter, I often seen resumes whose first pages are consumed with some type of executive summary and maybe a “Career Objective.”  A little secret into what those of us who review dozens of resumes a day look for first—experience and accomplishments.  We will pretty much ignore these editorial comments you’re writing about yourself on our way to ascertaining:  what are you doing now?  How long have you been in your current role?  And, what have you accomplished in this and past  roles?  If that information peaks our interest, we’ll keep reading.

The best resumes, in my opinion, tell a story of your career progression.  What I’m looking for after that initial scan is how long a candidate has been in various roles, and just as important, with various organizations.  I highly recommend that if you’ve been promoted one or more times with a particular organization, you list the total years with that organization before articulating various roles within.  I love to see internal promotions; it tells me that you were (or are) good enough at what you do to warrant a promotion. 

I also recommend that you add a sentence or two describing the various organizations you’ve worked for.  How many beds, net revenue, and a brief descriptor of the significant moving parts of the organization (one acute care hospital, seven ambulatory sites, and a 47-provider multi-specialty practice, for example).  Again, this will end any guessing on our part as to whether or not you’ve done work at the scope necessary to succeed in the position we’re recruiting for.

One of the absolute keys to getting your resume into the “yes pile” is to focus on your accomplishments.  Even at the most senior positions, I still see resumes that are a laundry list of items taken from a job description.  Believe me, we know the key responsibilities of a CFO…or a CNO.  What we’re interested in is, what have you done to add value to the organization?  And the more specific and measurable you can be, the better.

Finally, I like to see a strong, well-written cover letter accompanying the submission of a resume.  In fact, I often counsel candidates to take the career objective paragraph out of your resume, and instead, make a strong case in a cover letter why this particular position is attractive to you, and why you feel you’re uniquely qualified for the role.  This letter accomplishes quite a few things.  First, it articulates for me why this, why now for you. Second, it helps me prepare for our initial call by covering the why this why now question.  Third, it gives me a brief example of your ability to write well and make your case. And finally, it shows me you’re doing more than just fishing your resume…that you’ve taken the time to personalize a cover letter specific to a particular position.

My final piece of advice is to ignore the old adage that your resume must be a certain length.  Face it, the longer your career, the longer your resume should be.  Tell your story!


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