Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Successful Staffing - A Note To The Hiring Managers

While this blog normally focuses on the candidate / consultant employment process, it seems important to address the folks that are responsible for the hiring decisions as well. [In this post I will use the term: "Hiring Managers" this term is broad based and covers anyone that is involved on the "client side" with the decision making process.] 

The candidate pool has never been so sparse.  The market is no longer saturated with highly qualified HIT consultants as it was a few years ago.  This is particularly true with specific EMR System qualified consultants like Epic and Siemens Soarian, yet every day Recruiters are tasked with finding the ideal match for their clients.  We are handed a laundry list of qualifications and must haves that the hiring manager cannot live without. While we often sympathise with those needs and we do understand that in order to complete an EMR implementation or upgrade there are necessary and specific qualifications required, we also throw our hands up and roll our eyes in dismay at the unwillingness to modify expectations and the lack of understanding in regards to how few people exist with those requirements. 

For years I've watched the healthcare IT industry with interest, and have thought that it would only be a matter of time before hiring managers were more likely to consider candidates that were a bit outside their desired requirements or even be willing to consider the dreaded REMOTE WORKER... God Forbid.  Remote workers are normally highly qualified individuals that for whatever reason cannot travel on a weekly basis.  These resources are rampant in the industry but more likely than not, hiring managers are not willing to consider these people.  It is truly unfortunate in this competitive climate that more hiring managers are not willing to think outside the box.  Remote workers are qualified, have all the necessary technology to perform their duties from a home office and usually are willing to travel on-site for the first week or two of their engagement.  The client saves substantial funds by utilizing a remote worker because they eliminate the travel expenses* and normally the remote worker will consider a slightly lower hourly rate because they have the luxury of working from home. 

In other instances it might be necessary to consider a consultant that has less than the necessary requirements.  Most sharp consultants can pick up new skills quickly.  Nothing is more frustrating to both the recruiter and the candidate than to have a hiring manager say "This candidate only has 2 years of build experience, we need someone with 5 years or more."  Usually those responses are made without the hiring manager ever having an interview with the candidate to see if the candidate might actually have enough know-how to be a beneficial member of their team.  Also, there have been many times when a highly qualified candidate has been declined because they weren't available on the exact start-date required, yet the hiring manager will find they are still seeking "the right candidate" weeks after the original candidate could have been on the job.  Commonly the hiring manager will come back after their desired start date has passed and inquire if the original candidate is still available, which of course they are not. 

When I was responsible for both account management and recruitment I would provide my clients with the following analogy:  "There is a pond... and standing around that pond are 1500 Recruiters, all with baited hooks in the water, and in the pond there are 3 Big Fat Epic fish and NONE of those fish are hungry.  It is a waiting game to see which hook has the most attractive bait when one of the fish finally needs something to eat."  It just so happens that in that pond there are also dozens of slightly undersized Epic fish that are very hungry, and when the big Epic fish are so scarce, it is often worth while to go with a  smaller fish.

Timing is another issue.  There are so very few qualified resources in the industry that when those resources come available (and usually long before they are available) they are receiving multiple offers.  When a qualified candidate resume is received, an interview should be scheduled immediately and when the interview goes well an offer should be made within 24 hours, expedience is key.  All too frequently a stellar resume is submitted and a week or two goes by before the recruiter receives an interview request from the hiring manager, by this time that candidate has accepted another position.  The interview process plays a huge role in the % of hires made.  If a client insists on the candidate interviewing with 4 different people and those interviews drag out over weeks of time each passing day the likelihood of hiring that candidate decreases.  (the number of interviews differs for a permanent hire, if a candidate is being considered for a permanent position it is acceptable to have multiple internal interviews prior to a decision)

An excellent example for this topic is an Epic Willow Certified Pharmacist.  If I suddenly had someone with those qualifications call me and be interested in starting a new position within 3 weeks I could submit that candidate to almost every Epic client we have because there is such a shortage of consultants with those skills.  If that candidate has also called 4 other recruiters, they will be a blip on the availability screen.  That candidate is likely to take the first offer that provides his/her desired hourly rate and the least amount of travel.

To sum it up:
> A sense of urgency from the hiring manager is paramount to the % of hires made.
> The number of qualified resources in this industry are dwindling.
> Willingness to think outside the box and consider candidates that have most but not all of the requirements or highly qualified candidates that can work remotely is imperative.
> Timing is key...
> Remember that your recruiters want to fill the positions as badly as you do.  Working together and listening to each other is the best way to make hires. 
> The shorter the time between resume submittal to interview to offer, the higher your success rate will be.

* Savings associated with hiring a remote worker:  Many clients consider $1200.00 per week an "average travel expense".  Keeping that number in mind, a traveling consultant could rack up over $55,000 in travel expenses during a 12 month engagement. Allowing a consultant to work remotely even part of the time can free up large sums for other needs.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

More Resume Fodder..

In my previous post about creating impactful resumes (Resume Tips - How To Make Your Resume Stand Out - 9/27/2011) I discussed how to format a resume, use key-words and other misc tips.  I'd like to elaborate on that today and bring attention to the cover letter and what information goes where.

I often have candidates apply for positions with resumes that do not show the appropriate skills for the position.  When I go back to them for more information on their qualifications I occasionally hear "that information was in my cover-letter".  At times I haven't even received their cover-letter.  Why would one want to put significant skills information on a cover letter and not include it in the body of a resume? [that is a rhetorical question]  Generally when a candidate submits their resume to a recruiter that resume is uploaded into a "Candidate Tracking" Database.  If the "cover-letter" was written in the body of the email and not sent as an attachment it often does not end up in the database, so that information is lost forever, particularly depending on how well the recruiter makes notes in the candidate file. 

A cover letter should house the following information and never be longer than 2 or 3 paragraphs:
  • Highlights of background and achievements (pertaining to the job description)
  • Salary or compensation desires
  • Willingness to travel or relocate (pertaining to requirements of the job)
  • Date of availability
  • Reason for interest in the position
Any of the highlights you provide in regard to your qualifications should also be on your resume.
The cover letter should only bring them to the attention of the employer as a teaser so they actually review your resume. 

Resume content is extremely important.  You never want to be too wordy but you also want to make sure you're representing your qualifications thoroughly.  Below are two examples.  Both from the same candidate.  The first one was from the initial resume, the second was from the re-vamped / updated resume.  I've included a brief job description to show what the candidate had applied for:

Job Description:  12 month engagement for an experienced Cerner CPOE Trainer. 
Must have:  At least 2 years of recent Cerner CPOE training in a classroom and elbow to elbow environment, must have excellent communication skills, particularly with Physicians.  Must have prior curriculum build experience.  Clinical experience a plus but not necessary.

Old Resume:
XYZ Healthcare System  2010 - Present
Implementation Consultant
>Go-Live Support and Training
>Order entry with CPOE
>Both on-site and virtual training of staff

Updated Resume:
XYZ Healthcare System  2010 - Present
Cerner CPOE Trainer
> Classroom, Shoulder to Shoulder and web-based training of over 1200 Clinicians and Physicians for a 3 hospital Cerner CPOE go-live.
>Assisted with development of hospital training materials and curriculum development utilizing Adobe Captivate.
>Involved with multiple disciplines : Pharmacy, Surgery, Radiology, ED and NICU.
>Responsible for teaching schedules, go-live schedules and communications.
>Provided workflow and gap analysis
>Exposure to and understanding of: FirstNet, SurgiNet, PharmNet, RadNet, along with PowerChart, PowerNotes, PowerPlans, CPOE and LightHouse.
>Proficient in Microsoft Suite / Tools
>Proficient in Order Entry

See how much more information the 2nd example gives without being over-whelming?  A Recruiter can confidently send the 2nd example to their client knowing the client won't come back to them with a multitude of questions on how that candidate is a fit for their job opening.

Always keep in mind that we are now living in a virtual world and you no longer have the luxury of handing your resume to your prospective employer face to face.  Your resume must stand alone and sell your qualifications.  If you've done it and it's relevant to your desired employment... LIST IT!  When in doubt, ask a qualified recruiter from your industry to review your resume and provide you with suggestions.

Happy Hunting!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

"You Hang Up!" ~ "No... YOU Hang Up!"

When seeking a new employment opportunity, it is often difficult to determine when you should pick up the phone and call someone or simply communicate through email.  For some people, it's also difficult to determine when to hang up the phone once you've gotten involved in a  conversation, but more on that later. 

Let's start with picking up the phone.  If you, as a candidate, have reviewed a job description that interests you... whether you received it through linkedin, or email or you noticed it on a job board you should NEVER engage in a lengthy back and forth over email.  ALWAYS include your resume with your initial email.  NEVER send a one question email without a resume such as:  "I am interested in your job posting, how much does it pay?" (or where is it located or how long is the engagement etc)
Once the recruiter has had time to carefully review your resume, they will either call you or email you back if they are interested in moving forward.  When you receive their communication; schedule a time to speak with them on the phone.  Make sure you write all your questions down so you are prepared to ask them when you get them on the phone.  Going back and forth via email is a waste of every one's time.  If a recruiter that you have not worked with before is willing to submit your resume to a position without speaking with you on the phone that should be a huge red flag.

Now... about hanging up the phone...we have all had conversations that feel like they may never end... by the time you're able to hang up the phone you are exhausted from the call and feel the need for a nap, or a stiff drink.  Those dragging, tedious phone conversations should not happen on business related calls, particularly in an interview type of situation.
You should never hesitate to ask all the questions you have to ask to determine if the position is going to be a proper fit, however you should avoid getting off on too many rabbit trails.   You should also avoid any negativity whenever possible.  Berating your old boss or a prior client location is never a good topic of conversation.  Once you have your questions answered and the recruiter has had their questions answers, and you are aware of the next steps (resume will be submitted or 2nd interview will be scheduled etc) you should end the call.  Sometimes it can be difficult to bring the call to a close when the person on the other end is barely taking a breath in-between sentences.  These situations are why I've always been a fan of the UP FRONT AGREEMENT or UFA..  The UFA goes down something like this:  "Ring... Ring... (candidate:) "Hello"... (recruiter:) "Hi Jane! I'm calling you for our scheduled 3pm conversation to discuss the XYZ position with you.  I have 30 minutes to talk to you today and I want to make sure I am able to answer all of your questions before we get off the phone, so lets get started."    Either party on the line can initiate the conversation with an UFA.  What the above example accomplishes is to provide the other person with the knowledge that you are interested in them and what they have to say, but that you only have a specific amount of time to take care of business.  [this also works well on personal calls... lets say Aunt Bonnie is calling, you see her # on caller ID... the woman just never shuts up, but you love her and feel bad when you don't answer her calls.  Just pick up the phone and say "HI AUNT BONNIE! I'm so glad you called, unfortunately I have to leave in 15 minutes for {whatever excuse will work here}.  I didn't want to miss your call, I'm sorry I dont have longer to talk this time....]

The flip side of a dragging phone conversation is hanging up too early, and admittedly this is normally done on the recruiter's part.  Frequently I have candidates thank me for taking the time to really talk with them and answer all their questions.  It appears to be a growing trend that recruiters call candidates, spew out information about a position they assume the candidate is a fit for and then ask if the candidate wants to be submitted, if not they hang up the phone.  I call this the "Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am" mentality.  Recruiters cannot possibly represent a candidate without having a good idea of personality, work history and skill set.  If you receive this type of treatment, find another recruiter.  There are just about as many recruiters in the industry as their are consultants/candidates now, no reason you can't find a few that will treat you with respect and integrity.

So... to sum it up:
1.  If you want answers about an opportunity, whenever possible pick up the phone, don't have a bunch of back and forth on email.
2.  If you are working with a new recruiter always send your resume in your initial email.
3.  When you do get on the phone, focus the conversation to business and try not to get off on too many rabbit trails.
4.  Use the UFA (Up Front Agreement) to set the tone and time limitation for the call.
5.  Expect respect and give it as well.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Chose the Right Opportunity - Job Selection

Not so many years ago candidates in the Healthcare IT Industry called Recruiters to find new positions.  Now candidates are receiving calls from multiple recruiters with a variety of opportunities.  With national unemployment high, this industry is a great place to be.  One of the major issues for qualified HCIT Consultants is how to choose the right position or engagement that will not only enhance their resume but offer conveniences like; short commute times, high pay, perks such as benefits, bonuses, company credit card etc and provide a good working environment.

Since we've discussed how to find and work with the right Recruiters and Agencies in a previous blog I won't touch on that now.  What we want to focus on is how to go about accepting the right position and navigating the process with grace and professionalism.

From a recruiter's standpoint, waiting for the client to make a final hiring decision is just as frustrating as it is for the candidate, particularly in the current climate. When candidates are entertaining a multitude of opportunities, putting them on hold until a client makes their decision is not a good practice, because they can easily accept another role.  However, as a Consultant... if you have been interviewing for a variety of positions that interest you, PLEASE be honest with each recruiter you are working with.  Providing the following information to each recruiter is considered a professional courtesy:
1.  Number of other positions you are interviewing for
2.  How far along in the interview process you are with those positions
3.  What those opportunities do or don't have in comparison to their opportunity
4.  How close you are to offer stage with those other companies.
5.  When you have accepted another offer.

Keeping everyone informed can actually increase your chances at landing the positions you are most interested in.  If your recruiter knows that you are in the final stages of the interview process for another position, they can contact their client and encourage them to move things along more quickly, they can also potentially obtain a pay rate increase or other perks of interest. 

A MAJOR faux pas is accepting a position and then accepted another position only to decline the initial position shortly before or after the engagement has started.  Every recruiter I know has at one point or another had to tell their client that the consultant they expected to start on Monday has decided to take another position.  This action will normally get the consultant black listed from the agency / consulting firm and from the hospital / healthcare system. 

As a consultant, if you have been interviewing for a variety of engagements and are aware that more than one of them will be calling with offers, it is best to alert all the recruiters and put each on hold until a final decision is reached.  For instance:  You are actively in the interview process for 3 positions with 3 different recruiters.  Each position has reached the final interview stage and you are feeling confident about 2 of the 3.  You have called each recruiter and made them aware that you are in the final stages of interview for a number of roles.  On Monday of the following week recruiter #1 calls you with an offer, you are open to accepting but would prefer recruiter #2's position.  You should let recruiter #1 know that you anticipate another offer and would like 48 hrs to make a final decision.  Normally that should not be an issue and recruiter #1 will call their client and let them know.  You should then call recruiter #2 and #3 and let them know you have an offer on the table and must provide an answer by Weds.  Both recruiters can then call their clients and let them know, giving their clients a chance to extend an offer before your deadline.  It is poor business to accept the offer from recruiter #1 and then 2 days later when another offer comes in that provides a higher rate, or is a shorter commute etc, you then accept that offer and call recruiter #1 to let them know you have decided to take something else.  This leaves recruiter #1, their company and their client in a lurch.  By accepting a position, you are making a commitment to both the recruiting company and healthcare system for the duration of that engagement and should follow that commitment through.  (When considering permanent positions the rule of thumb is the same, put the first offer on hold until you can consider the other potential offers)

Everyone benefits from an open and honest relationship, especially now when so many employment options are available.

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