6 Tips for Job-Hunting Hospital CFOs

Earlier this month, the American College of Healthcare Executives said hospital CEO turnover grew to 20 percent last year — the highest recorded rate since CEO turnover was first tracked in 1981.

Turnover is hardly exclusive to hospital CEOs, as CFOs and other executives seek retirement or want to move on due to the vast amount of change sweeping healthcare today.

Deloitte recently picked the brains of two partners within executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles who deal exclusively with financial executives: Alyse Bodine and Jeremy Hanson. In the article, Deloitte asked how CFOs, in the broader context, should go about job hunting, even if they are not looking for another job. Here are six prominent tips that directly apply to hospital and health system CFOs.

1. Stay in current position. Ms. Bodine said it's much easier for CFOs to find a new job if they stay employed. However, Mr. Hanson said many CFOs are fired — a common experience in almost every industry — and they must provide honest, "referenceable" reasons for termination in those situations.

2. Increase experience in operations and organizational leadership. More than nine in 10 of Heidrick & Struggles clients have CFOs with "a strong understanding of operations at the top of their list, along with organizational leadership skills." Ms. Bodine said working at the business-unit level "transcends" industry sectors, and finance executives with experience in those areas are in high demand. Mr. Hanson said CFOs who may lack an operations background should "raise your hand" and assertively pursue opportunities that involve that side of the business.

3. Demonstrate skills with data and analytics. "If CFOs can show they've been involved in driving value through the effective use of customer data and analytics, that's a big plus," Mr. Hanson said. "Especially with consumer companies, there is a need for CFOs who are adept at taking customer data and analytics and using that information to improve business and the way they market products and services. There simply aren't enough of those executives on the planet right now."

4. Reach out to professional and personal network. Before hospital CFOs reach out to an executive search firm, they should reach out to people in their professional and personal network to find out what opportunities are available and where they fit in, Ms. Bodine said. LinkedIn and other similar business networking sites have revolutionized this starting point for job hunters.

5. Be transparent and honest with recruiters and new prospective organizations. Showing interest and enthusiasm is half the battle during the search process, Mr. Hanson said, and providing honest, straightforward answers to questions about their background can give CFOs the edge they want. "Some people struggle with questions about their job history, so it's important to prepare a blunt, believable, fact-based explanation for transitions, however painful," Ms. Bodine added. "Don't offer vague explanations. Saying 'I had philosophical differences with my boss' won't cut it. CFOs also should be prepared to answer in concise, clear terms questions around their organization's performance while they were leading it."

6. Conduct research. Mr. Hanson said finance executives should go into their interviews knowing a vast amount about their prospective hospital or health system. This doesn't mean CFOs should only research the financial performance. "The board and the CEO will go to the mat to hire candidates who demonstrate their interest in the company and understand its challenges," he said.

To read the full article, click here.

More Articles on Hospital CFO Issues:
6 Areas Where Finance Execs Must Offer Their Insights
Healthcare CFO Lessons: How Aon Manages Financial Challenges
Top 10 Most Pressing Concerns for All CFOs

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