With the growth of my business, I’ve been trying to recruit some additional consultants to the fold. We’re busy enough now to support employees along with our contractor consultants, which is a good problem to have although I don’t like the additional administrative work that comes with it. Fortunately, my partner takes care of a lot of it, but I still get pulled into a fair amount.
We are using a variety of sources to find people and have found a couple of additional contractors that I would love to hire full time. Unfortunately, they have other ongoing work that they don’t want to give up, so I’m happy for them to work with us in a relative state of 1099 bliss.
Finding contract consultants seems to be fairly easy. We see quite a few who have strong backgrounds with major firms who either want to slow down the pace or who are semi-retired. We have one consultant who was a hard-charging leader at one of the big firms who took time off for family and wants to put a toe back in the water. There’s a lot of variety. The only downside we’ve seen to working with these folks is coordinating availability around other projects. Some of them are great to work with on physician engagements because they are willing to do calls and web conferences in the evenings after physicians are done seeing patients (and after the consultants are done working with other clients during the day). Although we have to pay contractors more than we might pay an employee, even with benefits at play, we’ve been fortunate to have some high-quality players working with us.
Finding consultants as employees is a little different. Although we’ve gotten lucky with a couple of hires, there are a lot of people out there who fancy themselves as consultants but who really don’t have any experience as actual consultants. I blame this on the proliferation of the word “consultant” into job titles far and wide. At a local department store, the sales team members are “retail consultants.” At some EHR vendors, trainers are now referred to as “implementation consultants” even though they are simply delivering prescribed checklist-based training with no consultative aspect to it at all. There’s a thought that because people are great trainers, or great support analysts, or call center reps, that they’ll naturally be good consultants. I’ve found that I can train people on different EHR platforms or different revenue cycle systems far easier than I can train them to be consultants.
Being a consultant is more than being a deep subject matter expert or having process improvement skills. You have to have a large toolbox and know when to use which techniques to help move your client forward. You have to be part expert, part salesperson, part therapist, and part janitor at times. Often, we’re thrown into messy situations with lots of dysfunction, and have to push past the obvious list of projects we’re supposed to tackle to address the root issues that will prevent any of them from being successful. We have to help clients understand who on their teams is working for them and who is actually working against them and what changes they need to be successful. We have to convince people to do things they adamantly do not want to do, or to get their buy-in that at least if they won’t do what we ask them to do, that they won’t sabotage us as we try to move others through a process.
I’ve been weeding through countless resumes of people with “consultant” in their employment history who don’t seem to have practical skills for actual consulting. I’m also finding that people have trouble reading and processing a job description and mapping their qualifications to the potential role. For example, our posted job description is fairly specific about wanting to see actual consulting experience, along with at least two years working for a mid-size to large healthcare organization. I’m looking at a resume right now for someone who has only worked in ambulatory physician offices and never at a group larger than five providers. He’s also looking like a bit of a job-hopper, having moved about every 18 months over the last six years. Once can attribute a short tenure somewhere to “bad fit” or “took something because I had to,” but not when you see it repeated over and over. There’s usually something else going on there.
One of the positions we’re recruiting for is strictly clinical and we need applications to have an actual clinical credential of some kind. They can be a medical assistant, nurse, pharmacist, paramedic, etc. and we’re flexible about it, but they do have to have a credential or equivalent work experience if they worked in a situation where a credential was not involved (sometimes we see this with our military applicants). We continue to have applications by people who have been EHR analysts or EHR trainers whose only clinical experience is working with clinicians. Needless to say, I’m not impressed by their ability to read and comprehend if they apply without a credential and without some kind of other documentation of experience that would explain why they are applying without a credential. It seems like they aren’t reading for detail and that’s definitely not someone I’d want to try to build into a consultant.
I continue to be surprised by the number of just mechanically bad resumes I see. Mismatched fonts that make them look like a ransom note, failed formatting, typos, absent or overdone spacing, and more. (pro tip: emojis do not belong in a professional resume). I also see some pretty over-the-top cover letters. One applicant talked about his “excitement to take the reins of your organization and steer its future in the right direction.” He seemed to have missed the part where I was recruiting for a field consultant, not a CEO. Another resume listed a degree that I didn’t recognize and couldn’t find on Google, which is a direct trip to the recycle bin. If you have an unusual or international credential, a brief explanation would be appreciated (although I’m still suspicious that I couldn’t find it on Google).
Another applicant is a desktop support rep and has been deploying laptops to end-users for a large corporation. No mention of EHR or clinical skills and can only travel half-time despite the position being posted for at least 75 percent travel. One applicant said she could travel 10 percent. Another has been in sales for the last five years, mostly with behind-the-scenes hospital systems like autoclaves and laundry machinery. Before that, she was a real estate broker. I understand that people may be in difficult circumstances and are applying for anything that might remotely fit, but a lot of time is wasted by applications that appear to be spammed out without respect to the actual job description.
My favorite application is one from a gentleman who boasted of “creative use of accounting systems to identify opportunities to address reporting issues.” As a business owner, I usually don’t want to see the words “creative” and “accounting” in the same sentence. I’m sure he was trying to convey that they used the accounting systems in a novel way or used accounting to address a clinical problem, but we’ll have to wait and see. I scheduled a phone interview with him just out of curiosity. Other than the potential verbiage concern, he meets all the other posted criteria and has been consulting for a couple of years. Sometimes you just have a to take a chance on someone.
Have any good tales from the hiring manager trenches? Email me.
Email Dr. Jayne.