Career Resources

Self Interest and the Career Management Cycle

There is sometimes a remarkable difference in the way ACHE members use the Career Resource Center. More often than not, members populating the boomer generation require assistance with some of the most basic elements of marketing themselves. They benefit from advice related to preparing resumes and cover letters and in identifying resources for finding new opportunities. In contrast, members hailing from more recent cohorts—late stage busters and especially the Post-TV generation—benefit from a broader range of career management tools. For them, comparing self-assessment results with “next position” competencies and characteristics are more frequent concerns. This month’s musing explores what accounts for these patterns and possible implications for becoming more effective career managers.

The mission of the Career Resource Center is to help empower ACHE members to become effective in managing their careers. A key assumption is that career management is an individual responsibility, but that all of us can benefit from help from others. Sometimes help takes the form of advice or information. Sometimes it may be support and encouragement. HECRC considers career management an ongoing process that cycles through the following five major activities:

Self-Assessment. Using instruments such as the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) or the FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relationships Orientation) or through self-reflection, executives develop answers to questions such as “When am I naturally at my best?” and “Where have I had a record of succeeding and when have I been disappointed?” This information is useful in two ways. It helps establish next position objectives and having this information equips us to answer the inescapable networking and interviewing request: “Tell me about yourself.”

Identifying an IDEAL next position. Ideal means the executive’s abilities, passions, and longer-range aspirations would all be satisfied by being in the identified next job. Realistic? Not entirely and not always. But without a vision, one has neither direction nor focus. Some people are able to go with the flow in everyday matters. Doing so with one’s career means yielding control to external forces. Artists, especially successful and financially secure ones, may relish that lifestyle. Managers rarely do. Ultimately, we may have to make compromises and come up with a realistic “next best position.” Nevertheless, having a focus and target will guide our career management activities today for tomorrow’s success.

Gap Analysis and Preparation. What education and experience must one present to be selected for the ideal or realistic next position? Networking and other forms of research will provide the answers. Then the task is getting ready. One should be prepared to approach such development on all fronts—formal and continuing education, new assignments and mentoring and coaching.

Personal Marketing Using Resumes, Networking and Interviewing. Too often an executive mistakenly equates using a resume and doing networking and being interviewed as all that is required to fully realize the benefits of conscientious career management. Executives run two main risks when they neglect the other phases of the career management cycle. One risk is being unfocused or unrealistic in identifying an appropriate next position. This risk compounds when uncertainty or lack of focus is conveyed through one’s personal marketing efforts. Even worse is the risk that the executive is managing in a reactive mode, acting from necessity rather than by design.

Conducting a Periodic Career Audit. Executives should regularly reexamine how one’s personal and professional situations may have changed since his or her last self-assessment. Does the degree of fit between one’s professional and personal life still make sense? Will the status quo endure for long? We must perform this audit because we know that change is one of the constants of life.

So, what accounts for how different generations approach career management and use of HECRC services? A major factor appears to be how willingly an executive embraces advancing self-interest compared to embracing loyalty to one’s employer. Boomers grew up believing hard work and good behavior would produce uninterrupted tenure. They didn’t find it necessary to develop and polish personal marketing skills since they entered healthcare administration as a predictable career with little risk. However, our field has changed. In contrast, late stage busters and Post TVers, grew up more comfortable with and more prepared to practice advancing their self-interest. And, they more readily recognize that today’s competencies will have limited value in tomorrow’s employment market. So they aggressively pursue learning and renewing professional opportunities that will equip them for the next job. Also, they don’t expect loyalty, so they are busy managing their careers as though they will need to or want to change their position over night.

Whatever your generation’s orientation, HECRC stands ready to assist you. As in any endeavor however, success seems more readily attainable for the proactive executive.