How to Manage Your Healthcare Executive Career

Growing an executive career in healthcare takes more than knowledge. It takes perseverance, strategy, and good choices. There are many incredible people out there who have stalled their careers by making the wrong choices in career planning and advancement.

Managing Your Healthcare Executive Career

How to grow into a healthcare C-suite position
Guidelines to help you in managing your healthcare executive career

For those who are looking to grow in more traditional healthcare executive roles, there are certain items that will speed up the trajectory of growth including:

Expanded portfolios. This communicates to potential hiring managers that you are able to take on and manage more responsibility. You are demonstrating that you are advancing on a career trajectory, which includes increased responsibilities, bigger teams, and progressive titles.

Sustainability. Candidates who “job hop” make it more challenging for potential employers to visualize if and how implemented changes were sustainable. If you are thinking of advancing your career, make it a point to stay in one position or company for a time to document the year-over-year benefits of your initiatives.

Growth into more reputable healthcare organizations. The pedigree of the organizations you are associated with counts. When the top healthcare executive search firms and the healthcare organizations they work with look at your organizations, they want to see that you are associated with those in good standing. Keep in mind that larger is not always better. When making career moves, consider the pedigree of the organization that is offering you a position. This can make a significant difference.

And, of course, relationships. Working alongside the “right people” can have a significant effect on how your career is seen and how fast you rise among the ranks. If you are looking to grow from a management position into an SVP, steady growth in the above areas will be of significant benefit.

You will also want to work on preparing case studies that demonstrate your ability to grow into a role and to adeptly manage the tasks attached to it. Showing that you are capable when handling responsibilities in financial matters, resources, and staffing can tell your growth story. The idea is to illustrate that you are (like certain stocks) a great investment that will perform well and continue to grow over time.

Growing into roles at larger, national institutions from smaller/regional ones is – for the most part – seen as a positive step in your executive healthcare career path, demonstrating growth and development.

If you have done the opposite, moved from a larger institution to a smaller one, in order to grow in responsibility; be sure to paint the right picture when participating in press pieces, during video interviews, and in any industry publications where you may be quoted.

It is important to note that although the above are good rules, the world of healthcare career management is flexible. While the majority of companies are looking at these more traditional signals as signs of a talented person who can help them to achieve their mission, not all career paths (and not all healthcare organizations) are the same. There are organizations who prefer candidates with less linear growth paths. If your career does not initially paint the right picture, there are other ways to illustrate your skills and longevity.

As alluded to earlier in this article, making the wrong choices can severely hurt your career path. There are many different types of choices that can derail you from success and some of these may not be as obvious as you may think. For example, choosing a career path that does not fit in with the lifestyle and culture of your family. For example, you may take that job offer that will put you in a position of more responsibility in a larger health system, but if this health system is in a city that does not fit you…and your family’s values, it could have negative effects on family life that will eventually spill over into the workplace. This is one of the reasons why here, at Summit Talent Group, we deeply vet our candidates and their families to ensure that the positions they desire are more than just a good fit on paper, but also a perfect cultural fit.

All this being said, we do not recommend being risk-averse. There is a serious difference between making a bad choice and taking a well-calculated risk. Sometimes, taking a position can seem like it is leaving too much up to chance. In these cases, conduct an in-depth analysis of the risk-reward scenario and choose wisely.

It is imperative that you consider your skills when you are managing your healthcare executive career. If there are skills that you feel you need to improve in order to grow, reach out to your current leaders. They may see this as hunger and desire for growth.

Focus on the numbers. If you are able to present solid numbers and results either to your current supervisors or to potential employers, you will be able to showcase your performance and skill regardless of the type of trajectory that your career has taken.

Stay active within the industry. Draft a plan to continuously engage and grow your professional network. Publish articles in industry journals and be active on forums. Improve your visibility and let those who you connect with tell your story for you.  Don’t neglect associations, speaking engagements, the press, and healthcare recruiters. These resources can be of incredible value when you are ready to take the next step in your healthcare career.

Above all, do not take steps that make you look like a hopper. If your resume shows constant changes (and you are not an interim leader), it will reflect badly on your ability to commit to an organization and its mission. Making career moves often (a period of three years between positions) will make it harder for organizations to accept your value.

Work with One of the Top Healthcare Executive Search Firms: Summit Talent Group

If you are ready to move into your healthcare executive career, submit your resume. Summit Talent Group is one of the top healthcare executive search firms in the country. We work with not-for-profit, for-profit, academic, governmental and faith-based hospital systems; physician enterprises; ambulatory and surgery centers; long-term-care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation operations; home care agencies; health care consulting firms; managed care companies; and life science organizations in providing interim and retained search services. We look forward to getting to know you and finding a perfect work environment for you.