Career Advice for Moving to Healthcare


Today's blog post comes from a good friend of the Lean Blog, Jim Baran. He's one of the top recruiters who is dedicated to the lean field. He has managed a number of “lean healthcare” searches and has been very helpful in his participation at my community site, “Move to Healthcare.”

The following is from Jim's response to a question on the site, used here with his permission, as I thought this was worth sharing to a wider audience.

By Jim Baran, Career Kaizen

Q: “…is there a useful tool known to the group for salary comparisons within health care for continuous improvement folks…?

The best tool in my arsenal is called the “reality index“. It's my imaginary screening guide that compares the candidate's back office expectations to the customer's front office reality.

In career transition, the logical start point is looking at how the individual and customer line up on comparative value of knowledge and experience.


Individual: (Back Office) “I believe my lean experience is transferable. My company made cars, furniture, pumps, etc faster with better quality and less waste. I can spaghetti chart the heck out of this place.”

Healthcare Customer: (Front Office) “we save lives, not make cars/parts”.

Individual: (back office supported by theory) “you can save more lives by installing lean.”

Compelling, but how many more lives? And is putting someone on a respirator for the rest of their lives “saving ‘quality' of life”?

Point: what's the true purpose of this customers business? What's their value chain? How does my experience line up with it?

Individual: (back office supported by tribal knowledge)” I made this much $$ at XYZ Mattress factory and being a lean aficionado in (fill in State) I believe I'm worth $$.”

Good case if you assume all healthcare institutions and facilities are created equal and that healthcare competes like hotels on discrete measurables like # of beds. Not good if you don't understand the business side of your healthcare customer.

Customer (pay for knowledge). “Manufacturing and medical knowledge like comparing car and space travel.”

I could go on and on…

So how do you successfully bridge knowledge and experience in a career/industry transformation?

1. Eliminate all Japanese terms and lean buzzwords from your networking and interviewing vocabulary. Don't forget what you know – just relate it to the customer's world.

2. Pitch the tired resume and create a lean transformation digest highlighting systemic and cultural impacts – emphasis on behavioral variations and countermeasures.

3. Understand customer attributes and target experiences that directly speak to building a learning and improvement culture by first improving talent diversity; next, talent capabilities. You might want to learn more about their talent diversity ideal state.

4. Relate your comparative leadership experience of changing behavior and speak to the relevance of your knowledge value (as perceived by your old customer) in meeting their daily challenge of managing in a passive resistance bureaucracy. If you don't know this one, you have much work to do.

5. Discard tribal job search schemes. Get out from under the lean hood and relate lean as innovation and people stimulus. I always got a kick out of someone who claimed being innovative while I'm looking at their assembly line constructed resume.

6. Get real about the money. Compare your current or past salary with the relative worth of moving to a career that inspires you (and your family) from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning? It's all about what you need to make it work for all parties and the gradual benefit for both. Keep in mind that manufacturing isn't a good comparison to a “pay for knowledge” industry.

PS As a recruiter, I've have always respected people who are engaged in volunteer activity that benefits others rather than themselves. I believe such speak volumes to your future customers. Use it.

Jim Baran
Owner, Career Kaizen

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