I pressed click and off went my curriculum vitae for a very highly regarded position at a prestigious Boston Hospital. No chance, you might say, having read this blog for over 10 years that I might be considered for such a position. Well I am not going to lie, I did feel quite vulnerable sending my CV to a medical director site unseen. The position opens up once each lifetime. The departing chief of neuropsychology has been there for decades and is retiring at 70-something years of age.
The official job description arrived in my email the day after I put together my application package. My bad for sure as there are several key requirements that seem to be missing from my training and experience. Now I worry that the hiring committee will notice the lack of these credentials that are clearly spelled out in the job announcement. Perhaps some of the hiring committee will be amused and greet me cynically if I am chosen for a face to face. Fat chance now, right?
Whenever I begin a blog post I make an effort to write with a higher frequency of support documentation for the ideas I introduce. So in this blog I want to describe what it has been like for me being scrutinized for employment after being at my present position for nearly 15 years. This post will be somewhat random and unfocused given my tenure here at Whittier and a strong underpinning of professional doubt.
In any position that puts one into a managerial role there will be naysayers. “they hired this guy?” Professional jealousy is a real workplace dynamic just like office romance. When I was promoted to sergeant when in law enforcement, people who encouraged me to apply became strangers when we came together at calls. I may have been the ranking officer on the call but I needed to be updated and briefed by my guys at the scene and rarely did anyone step forward. As a new manager, I did not know everything and on more than one occasion, I felt as though the troops wanted to see things go south. For me to fail.
I for one, strongly believe in professional mentoring and supervision. I did not get this in spite of going to sergeants school. At all levels new hires require support. I strongly believe in mentoring and usually have a graduate student or two here at the hospital. It is a lot of work but when a student shows they are ready to fly it can be very gratifying for me. It is a lot like coaching, without all the yelling and cold mornings at the ice rink. I would need a mentor in my new job if I am chosen. A braintrust with whom I can communicate daily and who will help me keep track of my mistakes and teach me the ropes. I am lucky to have wise, intelligent friends and family members who are there for me to whom I may turn as a sounding board. I do not know everything and expect to be taught the ins and outs of the new job by the rank and file within the parameters of the position. I do not need to be the loudest man in the room.
As luck might have it, I received a call back from the medical director’s assistant. The hiring committee has some “additional questions” they want answered. I am now very excited. Like my research interests, mentoring, leadership goals for the department, etc. I will work on these in the days ahead. It is only is fitting that I write about my vulnerable feeling at submitting my CV for the most venerable position in Boston. Updating one’s resume after greater than 10 years is a humbling experience for sure. There are so many experts in the field. Excitement waned as I read a condensed version of my career highlights. Suddenly, I realize just how professionally flawed I am. Lazy even. Yet there were physician colleagues who encouraged me to stick with it and spoke on my behalf to the primary physician on the hiring committee.
The entire process went on for months. My colleague who encouraged me to apply said they had narrowed the field down to 3 candidates and just today one had been eliminated and it was not me. Suddenly, I was filled with both excitement and intrepid self-doubt. Could that be right? The position of chief was between me and one other. Soon after hearing that the pool was dropped to 2 applicants, I learned that infact, I was number 3 and was no longer being considered. Still I am grateful for the opportunity to be third on the list at the finest psychiatric hospital in the country. Such are the highs and lows when a job that comes open once in a lifetime and a professional maelstrom erupts in the aftermath of the not-yet cool office chair.
I have a job and when I retire, it will the first time in a lifetime that it will be open. For that I am very fortunate and grateful.