Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader Susan G. Schade
Title: Vice president and CIO
Organization: Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
Schade is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about catching a hiring manager's eye, mentor relationships and more. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's the most effective way to get a hiring manager's attention? Be sure to include a cover letter with clear career objectives and a summary of key experience, skills and knowledge that you will bring to your next position. A résumé that has a section at the start summarizing your key skills and expertise helps. Be sure to make your bullet points under each previous position a results-focused statement. A hiring manager may be looking for someone with very specialized skills and knowledge or someone who can be more of a utility player. If you fall into the latter category, a broad range of experience will help, but it is still important to show results. Unfortunately, many hiring managers may "slot" you depending on your experience. I try to route résumés to the right potential hiring managers and HR as soon as I receive them. If the candidate could be a utility player and is looking to repackage herself or is changing industries, I may just try to schedule an informational interview myself.
I admire one of my departmental managers a great deal. Would it be appropriate for me to formally initiate a mentoring relationship? Absolutely, yes. If that person is as good as you think, he or she will welcome your request. I have done both formal and informal mentoring with individuals. Regardless of the approach, it is important to define upfront what goals you want to accomplish, how often you will talk and for what period of time. When you reach the end of that defined time frame, the two of you should evaluate how it went, whether your goals were met and if an extension might be useful.
Any advice for a systems administrator interested in taking on more responsibility? At Partners HealthCare, we established a formal program in Information Systems several years ago called the Career Growth Initiative (CGI). Once a year, employees complete a Career Self Evaluation (CSE) and discuss it with their managers. Together, they agree on what the Career Action Plan (CAP) will look like. Both the CSE and CAP are standard templates that are completed online. A key principle of CGI is that the employee is the career owner.
Without a formal program like this, your first step is to make your manager aware of your interests and career goals. Together, you may agree on additional assignments to gain new experience, training to gain new skills, or shadowing someone to gain exposure to a position you would consider in the future. It is important to find ways to demonstrate to your manager what you are capable of doing so that when a new opportunity comes up, you are the first one that he or she considers.
After being laid off in 2008, I became a self-employed consultant. Recently, my work led to a job offer, and I'm torn. I've grown to like the independence I now have, but it can be nerve-wracking between gigs. My husband wants me to take the job. Any insights? This is a tough one because it's a very personal decision for you and your family. You have to know who you are and what kind of environment you thrive in. Do you like being a permanent part of an organization and team? Do you want to have the opportunity to work with a lot of different organizations, which can be very stimulating and exciting? Are you looking for financial stability, or can you deal with the uncertainty you experience between positions? At the end of the day, you and your husband need to agree on what you need in terms of financial security and what is going to make you happy.