Recently, we watched weeks of back-and-forth negotiations that concluded with Twitter being acquired by someone who, as many experts have commented, may not fit into the Twitter company culture. Do you think that some Twitter employees may be updating their resumes and contact lists?

The truth is, you may not always see a job change coming, but it will happen to all of us at some point in our careers—especially in healthcare. Career transitions are consistently listed among the most stressful events of a person’s life. But if you do things right and prepare yourself before the job change comes, it’s not as traumatic.

Cultivate a good relationship with your boss. If you can turn your boss into a mentor, then you can do some things with their support that you couldn’t do without that relationship firmly in place. A boss that is also a mentor is invested in seeing you move up or move out as you develop your career. Everyone wants to have that magical boss that helps you look for something elsewhere and will be an enthusiastic reference for you, but that must develop over time. It’s a long-term approach, but it starts with you taking the initiative. Ask to take them to lunch (you’re buying, of course) not to talk business, but for a more personal conversation to learn from them.
Keep a record of your accomplishments. Often, people find themselves trying to update their resume after they’ve already been walked to the door. It’s nearly impossible to compile a compelling resume without access to your files, so you must be proactive and maintain a career file before your job status reaches a crisis point. You don’t necessarily have to update every month (I often recommend doing this every year on your birthday), but writing down what you’ve accomplished with any relevant dates or stats should be a regular practice. It’s “good hygiene.”
Continually add new skills. Most healthcare professionals get a master’s degree to be competitive in healthcare, which is wise. But some people stop there. They don’t get their FACHE designation or go for a fellowship in HFMA, for example. It takes a lot of work, but it is essential to always be looking for ways to continue your education. Not only does it help you grow as a professional and a person, but it keeps you competitive in the job market which you are guaranteed to be a part of at some point in your career. For those not yet in the c-suite, consider adding the PMP credential from the Project Management Institute.
Always be networking. For some, networking is natural; others need to work at it. But regardless, the best time to build your network is when you are gainfully employed. You don’t have to solely focus on getting meetings with CEOs. Instead, form relationships with others who can help you understand what’s going on “out there” in the industry. These individuals can let you know when there’s an opportunity in their organization. Also, they can vouch for you in the event that you apply for a position at their company. It puts you in a separate stack from the other applicants with no name recognition.
Be active on LinkedIn. On a related note, make sure you’re staying engaged on LinkedIn. It’s an excellent tool for networking and sharing what you’re up to. Post interesting articles or your team’s accomplishments. Congratulate others when new opportunities come up. Let people know you’re out there doing stuff. Recruiters use LinkedIn all the time. It’s the first place they go now when researching a candidate. If you’ve got nothing on your LinkedIn account, that will give them pause. Stay active even when you’re not looking for a new job.
Don’t underestimate the power of a supportive spouse or partner. When you started a career in the healthcare field, you chose a nomadic profession. You are expected to change jobs, and that means you are nearly guaranteed to move to a new city at some point. You must be honest about that, and choose someone who is enthusiastic about it. Make sure you are on the same page, and that moving remains on their radar. The same goes for your children. Make new adventures part of your family culture.
Don’t get complacent. The comfortable and complacent are the ones that get hit the hardest when job changes come. They don’t want to do anything more than what they’re doing. They don’t want to experience change. They don’t want to deal with the unpleasant tasks, like firing people. They get to a place where they think that that job and the way they have it organized, the boss they have, etc., will stay that way forever if they just keep maintaining the status quo. But healthcare is always changing, and change will happen to you.

I’ve said several times already that a career in healthcare means that a job change is guaranteed at some point. But how do you know if a job change is imminent? Here are a few signs to look for:

  • The organization is losing money. If the organization has been losing money two years in a row, things will change—and soon.
  • There has been a change in leadership. The new c-level executive is going to want to do things differently. They may want to take the company in a new strategic direction, which may or may not include you or your position.
  • Your organization has been acquired by another organization. Costs will have to be cut, which means people will have to be cut since salaries and benefits are the highest cost to an organization.
  • Your organization has merged with another organization. There will be changes in organizational structure, which will likely create some redundancies in positions and make others unnecessary. Even if you’ve done an excellent job for your organization, you may have a job change on the horizon.
  • Your relationship with your boss is changing. If your boss seems to be distancing themselves from you, they may know something about the stability of your position that you don’t.
Author: Larry TylerAs the founder and CEO of Tyler & Company, a leading healthcare executive search firm, he specialized in CEO searches. During his tenure he conducted approximately 185. One half of those searches involved non-profit boards, the other half were advisory boards. After the sale of Tyler & Company to Jackson Healthcare in 2013, Larry stayed on during a three-year transition, developing the Practical Governance Group which gives education and training to healthcare boards. But his passion for helping senior executives find the right role remains strong.