January 2023

audio of the full podcast is available on our YouTube channel, @gibsonconsultants: Jim Gibson full podcast

Patrick: Hello and welcome to the MRINetwork podcast. I’m Patrick Convery, media director with MRI and joining us today is Jim Gibson. President of Gibson Consultants in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jim welcome to the program

Jim: Thank you, Patrick. Happy to be here.

Patrick:  Yeah, I’m very excited to learn more about your search firm as one of the newer members of MRI network. And of course, I want to learn more about you as an individual gym. And selfishly, I love having these conversations with our franchise members because. I just enjoy hearing about the trends, which are occurring throughout the various industries, in which MRI network members serve. So looking forward to catching up on all things Gibson Consultants and within the healthcare industry. So Jim, let’s start with you and your firm

Jim: We’ve been in business for 20 years, we just do healthcare and we focus on two areas of healthcare.

One is health plans, so companies that range from big Blue Cross Blue Shield plans down to some startups, but you get the picture. That’s the kind of business they’re in. And then the other sector that we focus on is loosely defined as digital health. Sometimes it’s called healthcare software and services, sometimes it’s called health information technology, but it’s a combination of software companies, tech enabled service companies, BPO companies. Actually the lines between our two sectors have been blurring over the past few years. That’s a nice thing. But the focus has been on those two sectors and only those two sectors.

And there’s a reason for it because that’s where I spent the first part of my career. I’m one of those few people that can say that I’ve been in healthcare for over 30 years.  And, I started on the health plan side. And, I did sales and sales management. I put together a hospital network in New York. And, then I did a shift in my career and I got into the software side. So I sold claim systems to health plans. I sold speech recognition systems to hospitals and imaging centers and, and large clinics. And, worked for a few other software companies. So when I say sold, I mean I either sold them personally or ran sales teams. And I also did a stint in product management, on the software side. So when it came time to start a search firm, it just seemed natural that. We’ll do a better job if we know where our clients live, what their day-to-day issues and challenges are.  So to be able to talk to a client about a business that I actually worked in, really helps a lot from the standpoint of understanding what their needs really are.

One of the very first people that joined me almost 20 years ago, was a general manager of Aetna. So again, comes right out of the industry, knows not only a lot of people in our network, but also understand the business issues. And, we can relate to our clients and our prospects and our candidates that much better knowing where they live.

Patrick: From my time here at MRI network, I’ve learned that you do not necessarily have to have direct industry experience in order to become a very good recruiter in that field. However. I’ve also learned that it helps a great deal. Jim, how much of an advantage is it for you to be able to speak the same language and have that direct industry connection? When you’re interacting with candidates? Clients and prospective clients

Jim: Healthcare is interesting because every industry has its own sayings, its own acronyms, its own issues, but healthcare is enormously complex and it’s changing rapidly. It’s been changing rapidly since the time I started in it over 30 years ago. As far as the eye can see, it will still be changing rapidly and because it’s so broad. Depending on who you ask, it’s one fifth to one sixth of the US economy. The issues are too many for any one person to fully grasp and become an expert. So you need to have a broad understanding of what’s going on, and it really helps to have lived in it.

It’s funny, I tell the people that we hire for our firm that the most important skill they can develop is the confidence to ask questions. And I think we, since you mentioned recruiters, I think a lot of recruiters don’t understand that asking questions makes you understand better. It makes you smarter about your clients, your prospects, and your candidates. A lot of recruiters are afraid to because they feel like, oh, I should know that. My bias towards asking questions comes from being in the industry so long. I’m not concerned, I’m not insecure about asking somebody to explain more about what they do because I don’t know what they do. Just because I understand healthcare, I don’t know what they do, but I can understand when they start to explain it.

Patrick: Isn’t it funny how some people believe that asking questions is a sign of weakness. However, I think it’s the opposite. I think it’s a sign of maturity. It’s a sign of dedication. Signaling that you truly want to serve your client by understanding as much as you can about them and their business and their pain points and their challenges and their goals. I know, I always appreciate it as a client or as a customer when my vendors or partners really take the time to understand me or to understand my business. But kudos to you for encouraging your team to ask questions, the tough questions. And to know that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. That’ll start at the top, Jim.

I want to use this as a segue to talk about your culture at Gibson Consultants because in 2022, you came in at 8 0 2. On the Inc 5000. And you were  named as best employer in the North Carolina business magazine. So you’re obviously doing something right down there. What’s in the secret sauce Jim?

Jim: It’s important to understand that although we’ve been in business for 20 years, five years ago, we rebooted almost the whole company. We were a virtual company and we had recruiters in several locations around the eastern half of the US. And my partner and I weren’t satisfied with the way it was going, and I knew there was more.I knew there was more we could do. I knew we could do a better job for our clients and our candidates. And so we decided to just change the whole model up. And we went from a virtual company to a bricks and mortar company based out of Wilmington, North Carolina, my new hometown. The reason that we did that was because we wanted to use training as a foundation for success.

Recruiting’s an old industry, it’s a huge industry there, and it’s very process driven. That’s not always obvious to a client or a candidate, but it’s very process driven. And so when you put those things together, you realize there is a body of knowledge of best practices, and yet most people don’t get exposed to it.  I would guess most recruiters have training. That’s something like, I’ll spend two days or a week with you and I’ll teach everything you need to know about recruiting, and then I’ll point you to your desk. Now, that might be a simplification, but it illustrates the point. Most recruiters don’t get proper training. They don’t get exposed to these best practices. It is a big commitment to do that. It takes a long time and it takes a lot of money to commit to exposing people to the right kind of training and then reinforcing it with the proper oversight, mentorship and management.

And when we rebooted our firm five years ago, that’s what our commitment was. We’re going to go bricks and mortar. We’re going to use training as a foundation for success, and we’re going to provide a lot of mentorship. We do all kinds of training. Classroom training, role plays, we listen to calls. We do a lot of different things, a lot of different ways so that the recruiter feels that he or she has everything needed to succeed.

You know, it’s funny as I get older, I start to think about my legacy and I start to think about what I’m doing here with this firm and why, and it becomes more meaningful and it becomes less of a job and more of a mission. And I feel strongly that I want this to be a place where people work because they want to work, because they enjoy it. They enjoy their, the company of the people they work with. They enjoy the whole feel of the place. I don’t want it to be a job. I want it to be a part of their life. Because we spent so much of our lives working.

That’s really enjoyable and challenging and fulfilling and meaningful for them to understand that you know what it’s like to have a candidate call you and say, I am calling to thank you. You’ve got me my dream job. I am so happy. Thank you so much. When that candidate was out of work, looking for a job, fearful, not knowing what was coming next, that is such a high, it’s such a wonderful feeling. Nice to say. You’ll like to have meaning in your career, but that’s pretty meaningful. Similarly, to know that we’re helping our clients to achieve their mission, build the kinds of companies that they set out to build, it’s really meaningful. It’s really satisfactory. I think that’s one of the reasons why we got the best employers award. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re so productive.

Patrick: That’s all really powerful, Jim. You know, when you go to MRI right on the homepage, it says we build businesses and change lives and you just provided. A true example of what that means. And how much this work matters because I think to people outside of the industry, they look at recruiters simply as headhunters. And perhaps they do not realize the impact. That a recruiter has on the economy, on business. And on the individual lives of candidates, of industry players, of people, real life people. That’s what it comes down to their people. Right. What also came through and what you just shared with this, Jim, is your passion. Not just for the industry and what you do every day, but for your team and treating them like people like humans. So it’s really inspirational. It all starts at the top. And there’s no doubt in my mind that your team wants to come to work every day based on what you just shared with me. So again, Kudos to you Jim. But I do want to shift gears a little bit.

You started off remote in 2002. You kind of hit the refresh button on the organization about five years ago. So my math might be a little bit off. But you were in the office for about two and a half years before the pandemic hit. And then I’m assuming a forced you to go back virtually again, temporarily.

Jim: Yep, it did.

Patrick: Okay. So your company has had a taste of remote work on two separate occasions now. And for some time they’ve been back in the brick and mortar in-person work environment. Where do you see the future of work going? Because to me, it sounds like you invest a lot in your people and you respect your people. And I know a lot of employees are now demanding a hybrid or remote work scenario. Why is it important for you when it comes to the development of your team, of your people and the comradery, to have people back in the office. Let me first say that I couldn’t imagine going through Covid if it weren’t for Teams and Zoom and that that made such a difference, as we all know. But to be clear, we’re not in the office five days a week now. Even now, we’re hybrid. We’re in the office a couple of days a week and at home the rest.

Jim: And I think that works well. I think it makes our employees happier. It’s nice to be able to put a load of laundry in while you’re on a Zoom call, that kind of a thing. I also think from a practical standpoint, that’s where the rest of the world is now. And so it just seems like, being a pragmatist, it’s the smart way to go. But because we do have them in the office a couple of days a week, and because we do have the benefit of useful tools on video, we haven’t compromised any of the training and oversight that we, that I talked about earlier. And it was really interesting when we first got back in the office after we were completely locked down, just watching them all interacting. They hadn’t seen each other in a few months. And it was just a really nice thing to see how much they enjoy each other’s company. We do other things too to, to keep us all engaged. We’re always looking for an excuse to have a party or some kind of get together and, whether it’s in our office or whether it’s out outdoors somewhere, it’s always enjoyable to get together. And I think that the more people like each other, the more it makes their job enjoyable.

Patrick: I think hybrid’s the way to go. I think working remotely has its benefits. And it definitely has its conveniences, but there’s something about going into the office with your peers that just cannot be replicated virtually. Speaking of, one of the industries that you serve as digital health. Are you seeing an uptick of digital health companies since the pandemic and since society was basically forced to operate in a virtual capacity?

Jim:  I would say that it has created opportunity. Companies have sprung up with ideas, typically focused on a single disease or a single diagnosis that they realize can be done over the web. The whole idea of telehealth visits obviously exploded, and I think we’re trying to settle down to what a normal balance will be of telehealth visits versus in-person visits. So at first it felt radical.  I think it’s since scaled back, but it certainly has paved the way for some technologies and some new companies to come on the scene.

Where it’s really made a difference in a huge way is in recruiting, because, particularly from the standpoint of how our clients hire their candidates, you can now do video calls, a reasonable substitute for being in person. A lot of companies don’t bother bringing somebody on site and will hire based on video calls. If you think about what that means, if you have a, somebody at the executive level who in the past would have visited the home office to meet with the key players, it might take three weeks before. They’re all in the same place on the same day. Now if you wait three weeks, a candidate’s gone because it’s enabled companies to be so super aggressive like we’ve never seen before, where they will go from first interview to offer sometimes in four or five days. It’s just remarkable. And we tell our clients this be before every search and sometimes they just don’t believe it. But it’s very true. It’s remarkable how fast companies can move and how fast they are moving because it gives them the opportunity to be very aggressive in a super competitive candidate market. It’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in recruiting in 20 years.

Patrick: So it sounds like virtual interviews are really expediting the entire process, which I assume is a positive. What are some of the negatives that are coming out of this new world of virtual interviewing from your experience?

Jim: It’s good from the candidate standpoint because although searches generally can take a while, they still can happen more quickly than in the past. From the employers standpoint, they can have a shorter hiring cycle. But some of the drawbacks is that they lose candidates. And as their agent in the market, as a recruiting firm, we tell them upfront, you have to be aware of this. You have to pay attention to this. The old days are over. It’s not like the way it used to be. You have to be prepared to move quickly if you like a candidate. And we also tell them, whereas in the past, if we presented a panel of finalists to you, maybe one of them was talking to another company. Now you have to assume that every person that we bring to you is talking to other companies. That might not be the case. It might be a slight exaggeration, but not much. And so we have to be a lot more diligent as recruiters to flesh out where you really are in your job search? And it’s asking that question and making sure we believe we get a truthful answer. We have to ask it pretty much in every interaction. We have had multiple instances of candidates tell us on a Monday “No, I’m not really talking to anybody,” or “I’ve got my first call scheduled tomorrow” and on Friday tell us, “yeah, I just took a job”. Wow. You mean, just took a job?  It’s been four days. So it just forewarned is for owned, right? That’s the way we have to work now.

Patrick:  So there’s a lesson for all of you organizations out there looking to add talent to your team. You need to move quickly

Jim: It gives us ammunition to share with them what I think is one of the most valuable  tactics of recruiting at any level, really, but especially at the executive level and those key hires, and that is focus on the backup. Focus on getting a backup in place. Make sure that if that lead candidate gets hit by a bus the morning of the offer, that there’s somebody right there that you can make the offer to.

Patrick: I understand the impact. That virtual interviews are having on the process. They’re expediting the process. I understand that. But. Is there anything missing? Are there things that you cannot pick up on virtually? That maybe you would have the ability to hone in on during an in-person interview. Things like what time the candidate arrives? Did they bring extra resumes? Body language. What’s missing in your opinion

Jim: It’s interesting , early on when I first started recruiting, I realized that for me anyway, it’s better to have the first call on a phone. Without any distraction, just be able to listen to the person. Because I think you can tell so much from just listening what’s said, what’s not said, how it’s said, how eloquent the person is or isn’t. When you see the person, some of that gets lost because you have the distraction of the visual cues.  You do want to see the person, but I do that as a follow up step. My first step for years now has been, and still is a phone call for that reason.

Patrick: I guess that method is extra beneficial for you when you’re making internal hires to, since recruitment is a phone-based business. Conducting that interview. With potential hires is going to demonstrate their phone skills, their communication skills. Probably helps you make a very easy decision. Right away.

Jim: Yeah. You pick up on things that you wouldn’t pick up on in person.

Patrick: So my LinkedIn feed. For really a couple of years now has been littered with content. I focused on remote work hybrid work the return to the office, virtual interviewing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world of work.

Patrick: One other topic. That I hear about a lot and I read about a lot. It’s the talent shortage what are you seeing throughout the healthcare industry in terms of locating and securing and retaining top talent

Jim: I would say we probably have the most acute talent shortage ever. There are a number of reasons for that, but to understand it, you have to look at healthcare from the big picture standpoint. For the past 10 years or 12 years, actually, healthcare has been going through a state of radical transformation. Whether you’re talking about the hospitals, the physicians, health plans, the suppliers, the whole ecosystem is being radically transformed and it’s going to keep going on like that, in my opinion, for several years.

There are new business models that are being adopted. The new business models demand new people. It’s like the mindset, the people that got us here are not the people that we need going forward. So that has created demand. one of the things for us as a firm, is that because one of our two domains is technology, healthcare technology companies, all the new business models are incorporating technology as a foundation. So there’s even increased demand for that. If you recall earlier I said our two domains are digital health or technology companies in healthcare and health plans. And I said that the lines between those two are blurring, and that’s a good example. New business models are using technology as a foundation, but everything about healthcare is being radically transformed. The way that providers, doctors, and hospitals work is completely different from what it used to be. It used to be that you as a patient would go see a doctor to get treatment for accident or illness, and then the doctor would submit an invoice to the payer, whether it be Medicare, Medicaid, or a health plan after the fact.

The new business models now are paying the providers in advance without knowing yet what kind of care has to be given. They’re paying them in advance and not to address accident and illness, but to move the patient population, all the patients in that provider’s population into a better state of health, and that’s widely referred to as population health. So a provider gets paid to to move the patient population to a better state of health. That changes the whole game. That changes everything. Everything about the way medicine is practiced. It changes the way the health plans interact with the providers. For many years now, most people have gotten their healthcare through panels or networks of providers. Those networks are groups of hospitals and physicians and other providers that are contracted with a payer with a health plan. That relationship has always been adversarial. The providers want to get paid as much as they can, and the health plans want to pay as little as they can. So it’s been a butting of heads.  But under the new model, it’s collaborative. They work collegially to come up with an arrangement where both parties win. That’s so different from what’s always gone on. These payer provider partnerships. It’s new stuff.

Then there are other impacts of the changing business models, payers are buying provider practices. There’s a lot of consolidation on the provider side. Now, some of that was driven by the hit they took fiscally from covid. But some of it, a lot of it is also because of the new approach, the new arrangements that we have/ these collegial arrangements between provider and payer.

Another thing that has really had an impact on the demand for labor is that so many startups have been funded for the past few years.  So if you think about it, interest rates were pretty much at zero for a long period of time. And the companies that invest in healthcare startups, the private equity firms, the venture capital firms, they had money that cost them. So they had a lot of money to invest, and so it became a supply and demand mismatch, and they were all chasing better and better returns. What happened was that it drove up valuations of companies. Many companies got funded. Whether it was, their seed funding or the series A or even the follow up rounds. A lot of people believe some of those companies shouldn’t really have gotten funded in the first place. But there was so much money chasing investment, so so many companies got funded. It was a land grip. When you have all these companies that are now getting an infusion of cash to invest in their company. One of the places they’re investing a natural place to look is in people. And so you have demand created by that supply demand mismatch where so many companies have gotten funded. They all need to go recruit people. And then you have the fundamental business models being torn inside out, creating a need for new people with new skills. So there’s been a demand for people that’s been a talent shortage across most industries across the economy. But I would submit that it’s probably been more acute in healthcare and it still is.

Patrick: As a complete industry outsider. First of all, you’re painting a very clear picture for me. So thank you. But I find this fascinating. Now, tie this together for me. You just explained a very real trend impacting the healthcare industry. Now where do you and your team come in? How do you advise your clients? To help them navigate this situation

Jim: I would say what we advised them to do now, is mostly not necessarily anything new other than what we talked about before, about the ability to, and the need to move fast because Covid moved everybody to video screens. It enabled employers to move through the hiring process very quickly. We advise our clients that it also enabled your competitors for those same candidates to move quickly. So don’t think of it as business as usual the way it used to be, “we’ll set up an onsite meeting in five weeks.” Whenever I hear that, I tell them, “let’s assume that candidate’s not going to be available and let’s come up with a plan.” The other piece of it about how to really be a destination employer is not anything new. It’s to remember that it’s not a one-way street. Yes, you’re evaluating the candidates, but the candidates are evaluating you too.  If you come across as being in the driver’s seat that’s going to turn people off. What candidates are, especially at the executive level and senior management level, looking for is that mutual respect. And it’s amazing how often the process undermines the words that are said. So a company will get a candidate in front of them and they will give them this great story about why they’re pursuing, what they’re pursuing and how much success they’ve had and how much momentum is building and how everything looks great going forward. Giving the candidate the impression, “boy, they really have it together.  I want to join them.”  And then all the follow up steps are fumbled and they’re slow to respond. They’ll act in a way that’s not consistent with their words. They’ll tell the candidate how together they have it, and then they’ll show the candidate that they don’t really have it together.  It’s so painful to watch. And the thing about this is the easy part. Just have it together. Treat candidates with the respect that we would like to be treated with if we were in the agency. Keep the process moving and pay attention to the details. If somebody’s going to call somebody two days from now, make sure they call. If you’re going to have two or three or four people brought into the process to evaluate candidates, make sure those people know what we’re looking for. We put a lot of time up front with our clients to develop a specification or respect, which is the ideal candidate profile. We put a lot of time into that. We have them sign off on it. We’re all on the same page. This is what we’re looking for.  Inevitably, people in the organization will be brought into the process to evaluate candidates, to render another opinion, but they were absent from the development of that spec. It’s easy. Explain to them, “this is the spec, this is the set of requirements. This is what we’re looking for in a candidate. This is the filter through which we want to view all candidates.”  When that doesn’t get done, you get things like: “I don’t know, can’t put my finger on it, but not the right fit.” So we try to take that subjectivity out of it and keep the evaluation objective. Doing it the right way is the easy part of the process.

Patrick: A lot of people are probably under the impression. That an organization writes a check and the recruiting firm goes and finds the top talent. Meanwhile, the hiring manager, the leadership, at that organization can sit back in their chairs with their legs up on the desk. But it really sounds like this has to be more of a true partnership than a transactional client relationship.

Jim: It’s absolutely a partnership. In fact, when we talk to a prospective client, the very first call we have with that prospective client, we tell them that the most important ingredient to a successful search is that it be a committed partnership that the client is committed to filling the position and working with us to fill the position, and that we in turn are committed to working with them as partner. To fill that position. And if you recall, we talked earlier about how recruiting is so process driven. There are so many steps involved in the process.

A lot of that is not just following best practices and following the next step in the process. A lot of it is looking around corners, knowing what to watch out for, knowing what to advise the client. We’re not only representing the client and gauging the candidate’s qualifications, but we’re also selling the opportunity to the candidate.  But at the same time, we’re probing the candidate. So we’re trying to find out how much activity do you have on the job hunting front? How many companies are you talking to? How far along are you? And we share that information right with our client, because we don’t want a client to get all jazzed up about a candidate that looks great, and a day or two later disappear because he or she took another job.  It’s very much a partnership from the beginning, right to the end.

Patrick:  You just mentioned looking around the corner on behalf of your clients, let’s take a minute to do that now right here on this podcast. As you look ahead this year. What’s on your radar and especially from a hiring perspective, what do you anticipate taking place throughout the healthcare industry?

Jim: From a hiring perspective, it’s interesting because 2022 was a rollercoaster, so the first half of 2022 was a continuation of 2021, and it was just wild. There was so many companies looking to hire the same talent. We couldn’t keep up, and I know other firms couldn’t keep up. It was hard to be able to keep up with the demand. Middle of the year, the interest rates started to rise pretty quickly. That had a couple of impacts for some of these, companies. Their debt is variable andthe new cost of money to them rose significantly putting a squeeze on their operational cash flow.

But another aspect of this is it forced the land grab of the investors to come back down Earth. The valuations on healthcare startups for the past few years were in the stratosphere. And now with interest rates, rising so quickly, they forced the investors to stop chasing anything that moved and get back to fundamentals. Yes, keep funding companies, but only those companies that merit funding. Yes, keep giving them the follow up rounds of B and C but only those that deserve it based on their business fundamentals. That is combined with reading the newspaper, seeing what’s going on in the world – there was a certain jitteryness, so people were cautious. We have a few clients that were on an absolute tear in the first half of 2022 and then mid-year, when this started to change, it just started to feel different. They said, let’s take a time out. Let’s stop hiring for the rest of the year. Let’s see where this is going and let’s figure out what we really need to hire. Do we need all these positions to be filled?

So if I could characterize the second half of the year, it was one of  caution. In the beginning it was a little bit of shock, but then it became caution. And now toward the end of the year, it’s pretty palpable that many people feel like, okay, the world’s notending. There’s still investment money around. It’s being invested with discipline and we probably do need to fill some of these positions, maybe not all of them. So I think there’s a cautious optimism going into 2023.  I think we’re going to have a good year in healthcare recruiting in 2023.

Patrick:  Well, that’s good news.

Jim: Hope I’m right.

Patrick: Hey, I jotted down a note earlier, when you were speaking about the constant evolution. Of the business models within the healthcare industry. And you mentioned how the individuals who helped organizations get to where they are today are not necessarily the people they need in order to move forward. What is your message to some of those professionals who may find themselves displaced as the industry continues to evolve?

Jim:  Some of them are still in jobs, some of them have seen their jobs disappear.  I don’t want to give the impression that this is like three out of four people. It’s not that drastic. But I’m saying that the new models, creating demand for new skill sets and therefore new people is one of the factors that drove some of the demand.

But the people who are finding themselves on the wrong side of that, some of them are retiring, some of them are looking for their next. I always advise people that have been laid off, or people that feel like they’re hitting a wall and feel like they don’t know what to do. A lot of people are of like deer in headlights when it’s time to change jobs. How do I do this? And I try to encourage them. I try to tell them, “It’s probably going to turn out for the better.” Most times when people make a job change, whether it’s voluntary or involuntary, they end up in a better spot. In fact, when Covid first started, I posted an article on LinkedIn.  It’s basically a job hunting article with a list of tips. And one of them, I think the first one was just believe that you have the ability to make this change. you’re not necessarily a victim, even though you feel like it maybe, you can take control of this. And then I go on to talk about different ways of doing it.

But the thing that I keep encouraging people is there’s a lot of demand out there for people. There’s a lot of demand for what you have too. So, get excited about it. Follow a plan, build a plan, and follow a plan. Time doesn’t allow me to get into all this right here and now. I would encourage people to, to read the article that’s featured on my LinkedIn profile. It’s a series of job hunting tips.  Then really pursue it methodically and have fun with it.

Enjoy it because you’ll interview. When you feel good about yourself, that’s one of the key things people don’t realize.  How you feel comes across in an interview. So be upbeat, believe in yourself. Look forward to the next thing. I don’t know, did I answer your question? Or did I go off on a tangent?

Patrick: Not only did you answer it with tactical advice, but I’ve got to say, Jim, it was almost inspirational. And I think there are a lot of people out there who need to hear that and need to hear words of encouragement when it comes to their job hunt.  Because when I go through my LinkedIn feed every day, I see more and more news about people being laid off or people who are just ready to make a career change on their own. However, they’re not sure where to get started. They’re not sure what direction to go down. So yes, your answer to my questions was super helpful. Thank you very much.

Jim:  I can elaborate if you want me to. I have a few more points on that topic. Okay. I have conversations with people just about every week who are starting to test the waters, starting to think maybe it’s time for my next thing, or, “Hey, my company just got bought, they brought in a new team.  I’m on the outs” or any variation of that. And they call me to talk about what do I do next? What does the market look like? What do you have? What are you working on? That kind of thing. And I give the same response all the. First of all, like most recruiters, we’re working on a small number of assignments at any point in time.  So unless we’re working on something that’s a very good fit for your background, we can’t really help you other than keeping our eyes open for something. So in other words, going to a recruiter, while it’s good to get the word out there, it’s a pretty ineffective means of getting your next job because it’s hit or miss, and  more often than not, it’s going to be missed.

The best way to, in my opinion, the best way to find a job is to, first of all, clear your head. So if you have an event like you got laid off, clear your head so that you can think right about this. And when you talk to people, you can sound right. And you don’t want to sound bitter, so clear your head and then think about, start with the personal brand.

And this is interesting because the higher up the food chain somebody is the greater the tendency to have done many different things. And so they’re almost a utility player, almost a chameleon. They can do operations, they can do business development, they can do strategy, they can even do finance maybe. And I tell them, that’s ironically working against you because people have trouble trying to figure out where can I fit this woman in my organization? What is she? It’s easier for them to put a label, and it’s easy for me as a recruiter to put a label on you. You’re an operations executive, you’re a strategy executive, you are the head, you’re the guy that comes in and builds a sales team from ground up. It’s a lot easier when I can think of you and it may not be fair to put it to the practical reality. It’s easier if I can think of you that way. So if you buy that premise, think about what one, two, maybe three things that you can do well and that you enjoy doing. Let’s say there are two of them. then have two different versions of your resume. Have two different versions of all your documentation, your outreach, emails and letters, your scripts, if you’re leaving voicemails for people, but have two different versions and each version screams that one type of role.

And then think about, okay, if I’m going to do operations, where, what kind of company do I want to do that for? Am I looking for one of the big ones? Am I looking for pre-series A so that I can get out on the ground floor and get equity and maybe have a big paycheck of years than the road? Or does that level of risk scare me and I want something that is a little further along a Series B where some of the risk has been run out.  So what kind of company do I want to work for? And then who are those companies? And if you think about it, you probably can start building your list off the top of your head, but then you can do things like go to trade show exhibitor pages. And usually there’s list of companies that are involved and they’re usually categorized. And then you can start thinking about that, and then you can go on LinkedIn.  That can be a rabbit hole, but that’s so full of useful information if you can approach it with some discipline and so you just keep building this list and you might have 175 companies that you want to target.

And in the next step obviously is, all right, who are these people? If I am looking for a position at a series a company, what person am I typically going to report to? Is it the CEO? Is it somebody else? What? What person is likely to be the person I’ll report to? Okay. Now I can go to company websites, I can go back to LinkedIn, but I start to attach names to those, to that list of companies.

Now I’ve got a list of people that I want to hit on, and I’ve got an outreach message, a note that tells them how strong I am in this area that I’m targeting and go at them directly. You can get to them through LinkedIn. You can get to them through groups that you might share on LinkedIn. You can get to them sometimes directly through the company.  But go at them and just treat it like a job in itself.

Just be very systematic about it. it’s a lot of work. But it’s not hard. It’s just a lot of work. It’s not rocket science, and most importantly it does work. And I’ve seen people end up with a choice of two or three opportunities simply because they approached it that way and they were very diligent about it, and they just kept their foot on the pedal.

Patrick:  You just outlined a very intentional proactive series of steps for job hunters. I want to flip that around though, because I think anybody who works in business development, could follow that series that you just outlined.

Now I want to put that to the side for a second, because the first piece of advice that you mentioned was about reaching out to a recruiter. And I believe there’s a general misconception out there: that recruiters work for the individual talent, for the job seeker. And nine out of 10 times,  that is not the case. It is a client paid recruitment model. Your job is to find the right fit for the organization, not the right organization for the individual. And I’ve seen a lot of messages out there on platforms like LinkedIn with frustrated job seekers and they’re frustrated with recruiters because they think the recruiter exists to serve them and their individual needs. And that is not the case most of the time.

So to follow up on your point about being proactive, you outlined a beautiful roadmap for anybody out there looking for their next role. Listen, Jim’s been doing this a long time. So if you’re listening and you’re looking for a new opportunity. You may want to rewind this podcast take some notes and go ahead be intentional be proactive. Thank you, Jim.

Jim:  Patrick, that was an interesting point you just made. I think I get the same impression that some candidates don’t necessarily have the realization that a recruiter works for the client company. The client company pays the recruiter a lot of money and they represent the client. They don’t represent the candidate. But the candidate is the most important  variable in the equation here.  And I always try to instill in, in our people a sense of understanding that most people only change jobs a few times in their career. We do it for a living all day long, every day. We’re talking about job. Most people only do it a few times, so we can’t expect them to understand our business the way we do.  It’s just natural that they don’t. And the most important thing is that we treat the candidates with respect and empathy.

Patrick:  Of course. The candidates are an extremely important piece of this equation, and I know you value them and respect them. And that finding a right fit is important to you and your team. But ultimately your duty, your obligation is to the client, the organization, looking to fill a position.

But it’s interesting. I mean, earlier we talked about recruiting as a career and how it is a fulfilling occupation. If you take the money out of it, I can only assume how satisfying it is to build a relationship with an individual, to understand their current situation, what their dreams are, what their financial goals are, their career goals. And then to be the person who helps them meet those goals. It gives them an opportunity to reach those goals. You know your work changes lives, it impacts families. It’s pretty cool. It is a pretty noble profession when you look at it from that perspective, which a lot of people unfortunately do not.

Jim: That’s a wonderful aspect of this career, to know that we’re helping people in something as important as their career. And there’s nothing like getting a call from a grateful candidate that we get a job for. We didn’t get a job for him. We got interviews for him. The candidate got the job. Getting a call from that person saying, I just want to thank you.  I was so nervous. I was so worried. I was so stressed. And now I not only have a job, but I have a great job. This is the perfect job for me. I can’t thank you enough. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. How many careers do you get that kind of positive feedback from?  That’s really heartwarming.

Patrick: You know, other than first responders and frontline workers in the medical field I can’t think of many occupations that do have that impact. So that’s something to be proud of, Jim.

Hey I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. It’s been insightful. It’s been inspirational. It’s just been a joy to catch up with you to learn more about Gibson Consultants and about the healthcare industry. So again, thank you so much Jim.  If anybody listening right now wants to connect with you, if they want to learn more about your company’s services, or maybe they’re interested in coming to work for you, Jim, how can they contact you?

Jim: They can go to our website, which is My email is

Patrick: Really awesome stuff. Thank you so much once again, Jim.

Jim: Okay. Thanks, Patrick. I appreciate that. We really do

Patrick: And thank you to our audience listening today. I’m Patrick. Media director with MRi network. Keep your nose on the grindstone and have a great day.

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