Beyond the Storm

Beyond the Storm

For those of us practicing shelter in place and social distancing, it has allowed time to do things we’ve been meaning to get caught up on in life: shows we wanted to watch, books we’ve wanted to read, removing clutter from our lives, the list goes on.  One thing it has given me is more time to think about the future and what the landscape of the healthcare industry may look like post the current crisis.

When I speak to CEO’s and ask what worries them most? More times than not, it is not the day to day viability of the organization that occupies them. It is where the organization needs to be positioned in 1,2 and 3+ years for continued success (or even survival). This becomes even more difficult with the current crisis and the number of unknown variables mounting daily.

Personally, I believe we are in the early stages of this crisis at a macro level.  If I were to compare it to a baseball game, I’d say we are in the second or third inning. The reason baseball serves as a good analogy is that it is one of the few sports not governed by a clock.  Innings, unfortunately, can last a very long time.  (As a former pitcher I have lived this too often and was often the cause!) I think the current game looks something like this:

Innings 1 – 3: Navigating the Initial Surge

Innings 4 – 7: The Real Economic Fallout

Innings 8 – 9: The Cure

Let’s hope there are no extra innings or worse case we play a doubleheader.

One of the luxuries (and I don’t say that lightly) I have been given during this time is the ability to observe at a distance.  I have had the ability to speak to people on the frontlines to the C-Suite across the country over the past couple of weeks. Through my conversations there are some themes starting to emerge that I believe will shift our organizational foundation and healthcare industry:

Employee Mental Health and Well-Being Becomes Paramount

Mental health prior to this crisis is something we have all discussed for years in the industry.  We all knew it was a big issue and given limited resources/expertise we were able to address in pieces, sometime well and sometimes not.  The urgency around this is now elevated given this crisis is impacting our caregivers.  If we don’t do something around employee health and well-being, we face losing seasoned professionals in areas we can’t afford to lose as an industry.  

Discovering the New Equilibrium

Your patients and consumers have changed on you quickly.   I’ve seen surveys as high as 87% of people will still continue to avoid crowds after social distancing guidelines are removed.  I, like others reading this, have elderly parents who are afraid to leave their house. On the other end of the spectrum, younger consumers who traditionally haven’t embraced things like a traditional PCP relationship will continue to look to other avenues for their care. We will need to quickly establish the new equilibrium:

– Face to face vs virtual demand?

– What changes will need to take place in face-to-face delivery?  For the consumer? For the provider?

 Providers better learn quickly who their new customers are, and by the way, saying you do telemedicine is only a small part of the equation!

Innovation from the Outside

This is something I have been advocating prior to the crisis. While ‘traditional health care’ is still very important, the real innovations and how to solve many of the points I am highlighting reside outside of traditional healthcare providers.  The ‘non-traditional’ healthcare companies continue to grow and evolve quickly. Partnering with these companies may look very different in the future.  If you look at them just as a ‘vendor’ you will be missing the mark and possibly even a strategic weapon.  Traditional Healthcare could learn a great deal from these non-traditional healthcare companies on how to operate and serve patients in the post-crisis environment.

Rebuilding Organizational Relationships

Heads up this will be a big one.  This goes way beyond a CEO saying how much they appreciate their frontline providers in a video or memo.  Hindsight will be 20/20 once the dust settles from this crisis and I think traditional healthcare organizations will be in a vulnerable position.  First, we haven’t seen the full economic impact of this crisis and that financial pain will ripple in the upcoming months.  We have already seen across the country pay cuts, shelving of collective bargaining agreements, disregards for contracts, ‘mandated’ redeployment and other mechanisms deployed that are going to leave a scar on the healthcare industry. For organizations that already had trust and engagement issues heading into this, the hill is going to be a much larger climb.  I can speculate where this all could lead, however, given all that is going on, awareness is a good start.

We will learn and evolve from this crisis as we do from all experiences in life.  Things that were part of our daily life will change and new opportunities will present themselves. Healthcare has always possessed resiliency and it will be no different through and after this crisis. We all know this storm shall pass and wish everyone the best of health and to stay safe during this time.

So, to close with a baseball quote….” My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling bad or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging” –Hank Aaron

Larry Trilops

Larry Trilops

Co-Founder, Managing Partner

Larry Trilops is the Principal Advisor for Square Up Executive Search and Healthcare Advisors. Square Up is a healthcare firm that searches for leadership talent for organizations and provides advisory services to clients, focusing on ambulatory strategies, innovations, and program implementations. Our years of experience and expertise differentiates the talent and solutions we provide to clients.

The Interview Question That Can End It All

The Interview Question That Can End It All

What is the most difficult question candidates get during an interview? Although there are many questions that would make the top 10 list, there is one question that is easily at the top. Further, this is the question that, regardless of the type of search or the level of candidates we source, 8 out of 10 candidates don’t answer this question sufficiently.

This is a question I have asked everyone I have interviewed throughout my career. Although the question itself seems straightforward and pretty innocent at face value, the line of questioning can reveal quite a great deal about the candidate.

Why do I ask this question? I think it requires more insight than most. I think it shows the depth and maturity of the candidate interviewing for the role. It is one that how the question is answered can be more important than what the answer actually is. I also ask this question because early in my career, this same question cost me an opportunity. It left me red-faced, embarrassed and fairly frustrated. It is a question we should all be asking ourselves at all stages of our career and thinking in depth of how we would answer it if we were asked again.

This question requires two parts. Part one (the softball):

1. Can you provide me with three skills that you have developed well?

Part two (this is the make or break question):

2. Can you provide me with three skills you need to develop and have the opportunity to grow?

So many people ask me what is the right answer to this question. My answer? There isn’t one! There are several things that can be accomplished when asking this question that provides a great deal of insight to a candidate, and it is not necessarily the face value of the answers that are given that make or break the candidate. I feel this question is one you should be asking as an organization in acquiring talent or asking yourself if you are looking to improve your interviewing skill set.

Here are the best ways to utilize this question in your interviewing process:

1. Listen carefully.

When asking this question, I specifically use the word “skills”. More times than not, the answer provided will be more about style than skills. It is often more difficult for a candidate to highlight specific skills as opposed to style. You would also be surprised how many candidates will tell you they can’t think of any skills they need to develop (talk about red flags). What you should be looking for here, first and foremost, is the self-perspective and maturity of the individual for the role.

2. Don’t tap dance!

If you are unprepared to answer this question fully or draw a blank, do not be afraid to ask to come back to the question. In my experience, the reaction is for interviewees to feel they need to answer the question that minute or their opportunity will pass. Unfortunately, a lack of introspection or even a moment of prolonged consideration can be where that group begins to eliminate themselves from consideration. Answers like “I need to work hard at not working so hard” or “I need to improve how I delegate” not only miss the mark, they are very cliché and they will force further questions and most likely not end in a good place with the candidate.

3. Did you say three?

A well-evolved executive should be able to look at themselves and know where there is room for growth and should have not just one or two salient, applicable and thoughtful items to discuss. Going three skills deep really forces people to search. In our executive search experience, depth is key.

4. Weakness as a strength?

Being able to maturely talk about areas one needs to develop is not viewed as a weakness but a strength with experienced recruiters. It can lead to a meaningful conversation around fit, resources, and strategies to assess if the overall alignment between the candidate and the organization is a match. As we discussed in our previous piece about ‘Being Ready When Opportunity Strikes’, identifying a lack of alignment could help you avoid a bad career move.

So, why would I share this question? Because this is not a test. It is clear that for search executives to be able to find the best talent for our clients, we need to make sure we dig deep enough with candidates to really understand their talents, skill sets and even what their limitations may be. It is important that candidates are always taking inventory of their skill sets and can speak with confidence about themselves in all matters and facets.

If you’d like to learn more about “The Interview Question to End It All”, check out our Podcast on the topic, Tough Interview Question We All Should Be Asking on March 15th, 2020.

Larry Trilops

Larry Trilops

Co-Founder, Managing Partner

Larry Trilops is the Principal Advisor for Square Up Executive Search and Healthcare Advisors. Square Up is a healthcare firm that searches for leadership talent for organizations and provides advisory services to clients, focusing on ambulatory strategies, innovations, and program implementations. Our years of experience and expertise differentiates the talent and solutions we provide to clients.

Are You Ready When Opportunity Presents?

Are You Ready When Opportunity Presents?

No matter how much you’ve accomplished in your last role, it doesn’t necessarily mean prior successes will translate into a positive career step. Regardless of planned career progression and personal career planning and development, it is often the case that the best jobs only come around once in a while, and not always when you’re expecting them. How prepared are you to act on an unplanned opportunity if one should cross your path?

Through the searches we have performed, we know a thorough plan of preparation and evaluation means that you will be well prepared for an opportunity, especially when you don’t expect it. What if a recruiter called you today? Would you be ready?

We see many talented people miss out on their dream job because they aren’t ready when the opportunity presents itself. To avoid this disappointment, follow these important points:

1. Is Your Elevator Speech Working?

Do you even have one? While a basic elevator speech is simple in concept, it is not an easy exercise to master. Can you really tell people about yourself in a couple of sentences and feel like you didn’t leave anything important out? It’s also critical that your speech sounds natural, unrehearsed, and leaves the other party saying, “tell me more”, and not “let me out!”.

For those professionals early in their career, it is easy to feel lacking in experience, which may lead to an overreach on accomplishments and industry knowledge. It’s also rather common that these professionals sell themselves short on the talents, qualities, and characteristics which is where they should be focusing. This could lead them to be too heavy in trying to highlight an area of potential weakness and leave out areas of strength.

For those who have accomplished a great deal in their career, how do you begin to fit it all into a short speech? Or worse yet, a candidate says, “I don’t know where to start.” In these situations, it is imperative to clearly understand the desired role, and highlight experiences in your prior history that mesh well with what is wanted by the organization. This may require you to do some research, reach out to your network, or talk to a recruiter or search professional who can help you gain more insight into this role so you can tailor your elevator speech accordingly.

Having a strong elevator speech also helps during the interview process. If you look at it from this perspective, interviewing for any role with will probably entail interviewing with 4 to 6 people, and for any role of greater significance, potentially ten or more people. Many of those interviews will begin by asking repetitive questions, and you will need to establish yourself and your background again and again throughout the day. Telling someone about yourself becomes easier if you have an idea of what you want to convey than trying to reinvent your statement from scratch each time. As an applicant under constant scrutiny from the interviewing team, they will debrief and share their thoughts and impressions of you. Consistency will help you come across as reliable and genuine, and your clear and concise elevator statement will shine throughout the interview process.

2. Do You Know What You Really Want?

Wait. Think about that question again, and this time more slowly. If there were a six-figure plus check sitting in front of you right now, could you answer that question and not feel any hesitancy or regret?

When working with candidates, we want to know their ‘bottom line’; in other words, what are the non-negotiable items in your next career? As you should suspect, this goes well beyond just the financial implications of the next opportunity, and this is something we all struggle with to some extent in our careers. You first have to do your homework about the organization. You should have a clear understanding of their mission and values and how those will align with you and your experiences. You should consider who you will be reporting to and what your work-life balance expectations would be. You would hate to find you’ve earned the title and pay you’ve always dreamed of only to be miserable in the next step in your career because you didn’t do your research.

3. Don’t Just Tell Me You Can do the Job, What Is Your Vision?

Your past successes have set a platform for you to have new potential opportunities for the future. Now that you have your elevator speech down and define your bottom line, what’s next?

Bring a vision of what you want will bring to your next opportunity. A candidate that can do the research and share a vision of how they will bring success to their next role will have the edge. Always think about what you are going to do next and how to share that with others. It is important that the people you may be interviewing with have an idea of where you see your story going. This accomplishes two things: first, this lets them see you as a leader. Second, it gives them a flavor of cultural fit. If you’re aligning with them, they understand your story, and they are with you, the relationship has a better chance of success in the long run. If there isn’t alignment you may have avoided a bad career move.

4. Your Resume….Is It Ready To Go?

As we shared in one of our previous pieces “4 Reasons Your Resume Will Get Shredded“, your resume is still your calling card. It is the basis of conversations that recruiters and potential employers will use to learn about you. Make it the tool it needs to be to help you in your next career move by making sure it is always updated and ready.

If you work on these 4 items, you will be prepared should that opportunity arise on short notice and a step ahead of your competition for this next role. Homework, self-reflection, planning, and forethought will help make you stand out even in the most competitive of searches when opportunity presents.

Larry Trilops

Larry Trilops

Co-Founder, Managing Partner

Larry Trilops is the Principal Advisor for Square Up Executive Search and Healthcare Advisors. Square Up is a healthcare firm that searches for leadership talent for organizations and provides advisory services to clients, focusing on ambulatory strategies, innovations, and program implementations. Our years of experience and expertise differentiates the talent and solutions we provide to clients.

The Health of Your Professional Network

The Health of Your Professional Network

One of the benefits of working in executive search is the opportunity we have to interview numerous candidates for our clients. One of the biggest areas of regret we hear from candidates is regarding their professional networks or more specifically their lack thereof. As professionals, our networks are one of the most valuable assets we develop in our career, so why is it that we don’t spend more time focusing on them?

I recalled some feedback I received from a contact at one point in my life, which was “you shouldn’t worry too much when you have adversity in your career, you’ve done a good job with your network.”

At first, the comment appeared immediately clear to me, but as some time passed, I wanted to dig deeper and gain some insight into how that person arrived at that observation.

The person said to me, “I am impressed with the circle of people you have developed throughout your career, the positive feedback I get from contacts when your name comes up, and that you have found ways to stay in touch with people in your professional network.”

It was information that I took for granted at first, but it made me reflect on what I and others had done to successfully build and sustain their network. Whether you are pursuing a new role, starting a business, or have other reasons, here at some thoughts and tips around sustaining your professional network.

Know your style. Both in growing and sustaining your network it is important to realize we all have different approaches. As we have discussed with many interviewees, don’t try to be something you are not. This only makes you uncomfortable, adds stress, and may not allow you to accomplish what you set out to do. As an example, I like many others am an introvert. For me, this means there are certain settings I am less comfortable in interacting with others. Don’t put me in a room at a cocktail reception and expect me to start talking to strangers. Getting the conversation started is not my strong suit, but I am fine once it is going. This also means that I know building my network strength is through 1:1 interactions, small groups, and through my actions (such as presentations). Just because I may not excel in one manner of networking doesn’t mean there aren’t other avenues where I can thrive in making connections.

Small gestures, big results. One of the fears of keeping your network active is that it requires significant interaction with the people. On the contrary, sometimes small gestures can go a long way. A peer I once worked with was great at sending their contacts a quick happy birthday message. It took a little bit of effort to track all the birthdays for this person, but a quick message goes a long way. Even though numerous social media tools help us with keeping track of significant life events, this person went the extra mile with a quick text or email. It felt personal, genuine and was an all-around nice gesture. I know if this person ever reached out to me, I wouldn’t think twice about taking their call.

Schedule your network, it’s a process. Just like the birthday example above, staying in touch with your network takes active planning. Depending on the size of your network it may require a different approach. Think about who you are trying to stay in touch with and take the time to develop a strategy. As an example, you might decide that some of your contacts will hear from you monthly or quarterly, while others may only hear from you semi-annually or annually, and certain contacts may receive a phone call while others will receive an email or LinkedIn message. If you have a clear strategy, you can then schedule your activities, you’re more likely to follow through.

Nobody’s perfect, we all drop the ball, so reconnect. We’re all busy, we have lives outside of work, and life happens. One of the great things I have learned about my network is that people are always willing to reconnect. I have been guilty of not staying in touch with some contacts that I made early in my career. At the end of the day, we as humans are social creatures and for the most part, like to help others when we can.

I recently reached out to a contact I hadn’t spoken within 20 years. It took some courage and gumption, but I crafted a sincere message to the person about where I have been and congratulating them on their success. The person was more than gracious when they received my initial message, and I was surprised to hear that this person had been following my career. Regardless if they had been following or not, they welcomed the opportunity to get reacquainted. I am happy to say this person is part of my network again and we speak a couple of times a year.

A strong and well connected professional network can be the difference between having a cohort of supportive colleagues who are advocates for your ideas, your work, and your career success and who (more importantly) you advocate for in kind, and having no one who answers your call when you need expertise, perspective, or help. Make it a habit to keep connections with your network warm, and you will reap the benefits for years to come.

Square Up is a healthcare firm that searches for leadership talent for organizations and provides advisory services to clients. Our years of experience and expertise differentiates the talent and solutions we provide to clients.

Larry Trilops

Larry Trilops

Co-Founder, Managing Partner

Larry Trilops is the Principal Advisor for Square Up Executive Search and Healthcare Advisors. Square Up is a healthcare firm that searches for leadership talent for organizations and provides advisory services to clients, focusing on ambulatory strategies, innovations, and program implementations. Our years of experience and expertise differentiates the talent and solutions we provide to clients.

4 Reasons Your Resume Will Get Shredded

4 Reasons Your Resume Will Get Shredded

One of the most frequent questions my partner and I receive in our work revolves around resumes. With our firm having over five decades of combined experience in hiring decisions and reviewing resumes, my partner and I have seen great examples of what works, and just as many examples of what to avoid when updating your resume. No matter if you love resumes or hate them, they are still very much our calling card to the world.

Here are some tips to consider as you build your resume that will make it the tool you need it to be for your next interview. Remember, you will be lucky if a person spends more than a minute reviewing your resume, so it is critical to make it count.

1. Stop the Buzz

As we review resumes for clients, the one thing that can turn potential interviewers off is a slew of buzzwords to describe yourself. We have seen resumes with so many catchy words that they began to contradict themselves. While people are hoping to catch the eye of a potential employer, they fail to address their strengths and skill sets.

In an interview this can be even more dangerous. I once had a resume of a candidate that said they were a ‘game changer.’ I asked about this phrase and asked the candidate to provide examples of why they perceived themselves to be a game changer (which is a pretty powerful phrase to apply to oneself). After a long and pregnant pause, the candidate proceeded to provide a very subjective and unsupported example, very much missing their self-described ‘game changer’ description and giving me serious doubts to their ability to do the job in which they were applying. The point is simple: if you are going to use powerful, buzzy types of words and phrases you must back it up with concrete examples, and avoid phrases that open up to a great deal of interpretation. Otherwise, you run the risk of being passed over as a candidate.

2. Establish a Point of Reference

We always recommend that candidates find some space on their resume to specifically describe the organization you are working for, and your role within that organization.

This can save a great deal of time during the interview process and can give interviewers a good feel for the size, scope and type of organizations you worked with and your level of experience. It is incredible how much time can be wasted during an interview just trying to establish this background information – information that is incredibly valuable to fully understanding your resume. With this out of the way, your interviewer’s time can be better spent on learning about your skills and experience.

3. You Didn’t Accomplish Anything?

People tend to sell themselves short when it comes to their accomplishments. In a world of teamwork and matrixes, we find more and more people are afraid to say they accomplished anything. A good rule of thumb here: if you were ultimately responsible for the initiative to the level at which you could have been fired if the outcome wasn’t achieved, you should be taking some credit.

Companies want to hire people that can get things done. A resume that just tells them all you did was participate on committees and teams will lead them to doubt your abilities to get anything done and write you off as a hire.

4. Did it happen to you or because of you?

Just as some candidates are hesitant to take credit for their accomplishments, other candidates may take credit for too much.

A seasoned recruiter will go in depth on accomplishments and won’t accept face value answers. We recently had a candidate that claimed to have increased volumes by 10%. After a series of questions, we were able to determine that there were circumstances outside of this individual that lead to the volume increases. It happened to the person not because of the person. The rule is simple on this one: if you can speak in depth and substantiate your claim, you are ok, but if you can’t, it’s best to leave it off of your resume.

The bottom line is simple: anything you write on your resume is fair game. Don’t be afraid to tell people who you truly are and your honest accomplishments. Even the length of your resume doesn’t matter as long as the information is pertinent, concise, and conversation worthy. Remember, you are lucky if a person spends more than a minute looking at your resume, so make it count. Otherwise, it may end up in the shred bin.

Square Up is a healthcare firm that searches for executive leadership talent for organizations and provides advisory services to clients. Our years of experience and expertise differentiates the talent and solutions we provide to clients.

Larry Trilops

Larry Trilops

Co-Founder, Managing Partner

Larry Trilops is the Principal Advisor for Square Up Executive Search and Healthcare Advisors. Square Up is a healthcare firm that searches for leadership talent for organizations and provides advisory services to clients, focusing on ambulatory strategies, innovations, and program implementations. Our years of experience and expertise differentiates the talent and solutions we provide to clients.