Networking paves the path
By Jim Hogan
fter twenty productive years in healthcare technology, and many more in other industries, I once again find myself seeking a new challenge. In today’s shifting economy, periodic job transition has become the norm for many IT executives, including myself.
Over time, the search for executive IT jobs has evolved, now requiring the job-hunter to leverage many different techniques. No longer can you simply apply for a job and submit a resume. Today, it is critical to make personal connections and network with community leaders in your field.
As you get closer to meeting your target company’s hiring manager, it is necessary to develop an understanding of the company’s challenges and create a strategy that demonstrates how your particular skills can solve the problems. As professionals, top executives at companies will make themselves available if they believe you can address their needs.
Over the past 20-plus years, my job search techniques have become more sophisticated. Searching for a high-level position requires the drive and fortitude to push forward and to meet peer executives. I have also learned much from a number of books about executive searches, such as “Rites of Passage” by John Lucht. Lucht clearly outlines many approaches and steps that companies and recruiters follow when searching for executive candidates.
In addition, the Denver area offers numerous groups that support executive job hunters. Many of these “pay it forward” groups cost little or nothing to join. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many people understand the value of networking and are ready and willing to provide support. Throughout my searches, I have found very few people who are not willing to help.
When searching for a position, I devote 80 percent of my efforts to networking and 20 percent to searching online. As I meet other professionals, I frequently discover potential positions during networking conversations. Associates and acquaintances will often share a list of contacts who can get you closer to a particular hiring manager.
For example, I found my position at Physician Health Partners (PHP) through a networking group, where I met a former CIO in the hospital industry. We met for coffee, and she showed a strong interest in my background in Accountable Care Models for healthcare. Shortly after, she arranged an email introduction to a technical recruiting company searching for an IT Director. That company, PHP, quickly arranged an interview and before long, I received an offer for the job.
At the same time, I was offered the position of vice president of security at a different company — yet another opportunity that emerged from the networking process.
In both situations, it was necessary to do research in the areas of security and to firm up my knowledge of healthcare ACO models. From the discussions with my network contacts I learned about the challenges faced by each company and how I might help solve their problems. Because I was able to articulate how I could contribute to solutions, other topics of discussions flowed naturally.
Working in information technology for a number of different companies has exposed me to myriad technologies that are in use in most IT departments. Broad and detailed knowledge of these technologies has positioned me to solve specific challenges. But technical knowledge alone is not enough to land the executive post you seek.
Some lessons I’ve learned:
- Be pleasantly persistent and confident.
- Show keen interest in each person and his or her company’s success.
- Look at every possible angle to find the jobs that match your objectives; then be persistent.
- Display confidence in your abilities and demonstrate your competencies.
After leaving PHP, I am once again beginning a new search. And once again, I am leveraging my networking skills to find my next position.