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One Company, Many Departments; One Strategy or Many

One Company, Many Departments; One Strategy or Many

by Kim Jimenez

When talking about your organizational goals, is every department within your company on the same page? Have you shared or even included all departments in goal setting and strategy development? Does your Human Resources department act as part of the strategy team for your community and your company or do they perform as an auxiliary function?

Woman drawing Flow Chart

People can make or break your organization. The front-line employees who interact with the public. The CNAs and nurses who care for your residents. The receptionist who greets everyone who walks into your office or facility. The marketing team who puts out the marketing material and branding that can draw in new business (or not). Your top management and executives who define and plan the company brand and strategy. So, don’t you think the department responsible for recruiting all these people need to be an integral part of the company strategic plan? Absolutely!

Continue reading “One Company, Many Departments; One Strategy or Many”

2017…It’s Closer Than You Think!

2017…It’s Closer Than You Think!

iss_12277_07926-1As we approach the end of 2016 (sorry, but yes, it is coming at you like a speeding locomotive whether you admit or not!) we hope you are actively evaluating where you are in terms of your 2016 goals.  Are you on track to accomplish everything you set out to accomplish? If not, why not?  Did you set goals that you have since deemed unnecessary, do you need more time or do you need a different strategy? What new goals have developed?

One of the many areas you need to be evaluating is your aging physical plant and capital investment.  Capital investment/improvements on an ongoing basis are crucial to keeping your senior living community in a competitive condition. If you have a newer facility you may be in the planning/budgeting stages but if your community has some years on it, you should be making these improvements to stay viable.  Either way, capital investment is something you need to be thinking about no matter how old or young your community is.

Three Capital Investment Traps

In planning a capital investment strategy, many owners and sponsors frequently commit three tactical errors.  They:

  1. Spend money on the wrong things
  2. Lose sight of their overall strategic objectives
  3. Pay too much for less-than-optimum value

Consider Two Important Time Frames

In developing a new senior living community or improving an existing one, capital expenditure decisions must consider two distinct time frames:

  • Short-Run – The initial (one time) costs of the capital investment
  • Long-Run – The ongoing (perpetual) operating costs of ownership

Cost of Ownership Considerations

To plan effectively, you must carefully weigh the short run capital cost expenditures (immediate capital costs, such as new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems) against the long run costs of ownership (ongoing operating costs such as maintenance, utilities, and insurance). Investing less in capital improvements in the short run can sometimes be very expensive over your total ownership period.  These cost considerations become very important if you plan to hold your property for more than five years.  Even if you plan to be a short term property owner, realize that your ultimate sale value can be adversely affected by your earlier “short run” capital investment mentality.  The buyer’s sophisticated due diligence efforts will likely detect flaws in your original capital investment planning.

These four simple steps should help you make important cost of ownership trade-off decisions:

  1. When considering two alternative capital investments evaluate the payback period and calculate the impact on total community value. How many years of operation are required for the operational savings/benefits to result in financial break-even or recovery of each of your alternative initial cash investment options? This can be a simple arithmetic calculation (dividing the initial cost of the capital investment by the estimated annual financial benefit or savings) or a more sophisticated discounted cash flow analysis that takes into consideration the time-value of money invested.  Ideally, your payback period should be between three and five years.  From that point forward, there should be an ongoing positive incremental financial impact.
  2. Estimate the total impact on community value. To determine the increased intrinsic value of your community, you should capitalize the incremental increase in your net operating income resulting from the capital investment1.  The capitalization rate is the cash return (percentage) that reasonable buyers or investors would expect to realize on their cash investment. This would obviously be influenced by their perception of relative risk.  Appendix C briefly describes the capitalization rate concept.
  3. Value engineer your capital investments. This means lowering or controlling capital costs without significantly detracting from the look, operational efficiency, or marketplace acceptance of your community.  The results of this effort should be largely invisible to the consumer marketplace.
  4. Let the “flash value” concept influence capital investment. Flash value is a fairly obscure, but surprisingly simple, way of quantifying, and thereby maximizing, perceived value in the eyes of the consumer.  This concept is defined as follows:

Flash Value Index  =    What Consumer Thinks an Item Costs

                                                      Your Actual Cost

Through consumer testing (focus groups, etc.), you can identify a menu of design features and amenities that exhibit a positive “flash value index” of greater than two to one.  This means that the consumer thinks the item is worth at least twice as much as your actual cost.  You should incorporate a number of highly favorable flash value items into your community.  Typical high flash value items in senior housing include high-quality wood molding or millwork, walk-in closets, unusual (but attractive) public spaces, recessed solid-core living unit entry doors, incandescent or new LED lighting vs. traditional, older fluorescent lighting, wall coverings and artwork, interesting roof lines, and “breaks” in exterior elevations.  The list could go on, but the ideal outcome is for a senior prospect and their family to comment, “This place sure seems to offer a lot for the money!”

Call to Action

      Before you move on, remember you can get very creative with your capital investments by taking four basic steps:

  1. Evaluate the investment payback period.
  2. Estimate the total impact on existing operation and long-run community value.
  3. Value engineer for cost investment savings.
  4. Invest in flash value to enhance perceived value.

Finally, address the key question, “Is now the appropriate time to take action?”

To Understand What Works, Drill Down

To Understand What Works, Drill Down

 

[This article by Jim Moore previously appeared in the industry publication McKnight’s Senior Living]

It is generally recognized that the senior living business is becoming more complex with increasing need for operational sophistication and innovative best practices. The senior living continuum of products and services is growing. There is a pressing need to optimize the financial viability of existing communities through revenue enhancement and expense reduction.

financialYet in spite of these generally recognized complexities and challenges, many sponsors and owner/operators still focus exclusively on tracking and evaluating their financial position on a broad consolidated basis. This is a great big-picture summary approach, but the true financial dynamics and sensitivity of the organization must address the development of individual cost and profit centers within the continuum. Simply combining three or four businesses within a community into one simple consolidated income statement of revenues and expenses is not the best practice for the future. In reality, each of these major product and service businesses should meet reasonable industry financial benchmarks of:

  1. Revenue
  2. Expenses
  3. Net operating income
  4. Profit margins
  5. Cash flow

Each cost center must initially stand alone before being merged into the consolidated financial statement. Just using consolidated financials can frequently mask unacceptable subpar performance of one cost center, while penalizing another one.

Clearly owner/operators must provide a seamless consolidated continuum of products and services for their aging residents. But this consolidated continuum is really composed of a number of individual business models with unique challenges and opportunities. Each key element of this continuum must first be segmented as standalone cost and profit centers and then (and only then) combined to track the results on a consolidated basis. Each business element must be successful individually.

Let’s take a look at a typical example. One of my clients operates a comprehensive CCRC that has independent living, assisted living/dementia/memory care, nursing/rehabilitation and assistance-in-living/wellness as major components in their seamless continuum for their residents. These components have each been segmented as these standalone profit centers. Individual income statements exist for each one. These individual income statements include earned operating revenues, operating expenses including direct costs and an appropriate overhead allocation that applies to that cost center, individual net operating income, profit margin and cash flow. These financial statements also include monthly and year-to-date budget versus actual results and, where appropriate, a discussion of why variances occur.

This approach also quantifies and enhances the objective assessment of key staff member performance. Coupled with resident satisfaction scores, this provides an objective criteria for addressing important initiatives.

The senior living continuum is becoming more complex, with services like comprehensive assistance-in-living within independent living, geriatric assessment, memory care and external continuing care at home. Financial performance sensitivity is also increasingly putting more pressure on profits, debt service coverage and capital investment needs impacting overall cash flow for aging physical plants.

The standalone cost and profit center is a concept whose time has arrived. It is already being implemented by progressive sponsors and owner/operators. The benefits include sharpened pricing, focused cost controls and potential overhead cost reduction. Finally, the concept is fast becoming a key element of a state-of-the-art business practice.

Need help drilling down your financials? Contact MDS at 817-731-4266

 

Let Seniors Out of the Box!

Let Seniors Out of the Box!

 

A recent article in Senior Housing News shows how one community takes on the challenge of seniors and technology.  This community looked outside its own walls to form a partnership that brought great value to the community’s program offerings but more importantly, value to their residents.

Don’t Limit Seniors

Senior man staring into cardboard box

So many times we make assumptions which limit both us (as individuals and companies) as well as those we make those assumptions about.  We make assumptions based on our own opinions as well as past knowledge.  We must not only keep an open mind but embrace that times and people change and evolve.  In our minds, we might limit seniors’ interest and ability when it comes to technology.  We think it will be too difficult, we think they are not interested and even THEY may have these same thoughts.

 

Technology is Increasingly User Friendly

Do your residents shy away from technology? Some may not be interested because they think it is too complicated or difficult even if they wanted to learn.  Equipment is becoming increasingly user friendly and apps make that equipment even easier…well, sometimes.  With so many options, it is not hard to find systems even the most timid can learn and use.

Reducing Isolation

We often criticize technology for isolating our younger generations by limiting their interaction to technological means vs. human interaction.  While that is most definitely a valid argument, some populations are isolated due to circumstances such as residents in senior housing with family in distant locations.  Technology can open doors to communication and interaction.  Emails, video-chatting, Facebook, and other applications can give those residents access to family and friends they may not have right now.  If these residents have family far away, what a gift to be able to see them and be able to stay up to date via video and pictures.

Comfort Zones

While technology may be out of the comfort zone of both the senior student to learn it and the staff who is designated to teach it, rewards can be significant. Don’t hesitate to look outside your community for help with instituting such programs. As this article illustrates, finding partners outside your community can benefit your community as well as your residents.  It does not have to be a partner as large as Google, local businesses and organization offer a wealth of knowledge and resources.

It is a common adage that life happens outside our comfort zone and our senior residents are no different.  When we are pushed to learn and grow, we find confidence, opportunities and great satisfaction in overcoming perceived obstacles.  Find ways to help develop this confidence and satisfaction in your residents.  Give your residents challenges every now and then.  Lifetime learning is exactly what is says, a lifetime of learning no matter your age.  We should adopt this concept not only for ourselves but for our residents as well.

An important reminder for us and them; we are never too old to learn something new.

"You’ve Got Questions…We’ve Got Answers"

 

In additional to authoring several books based on his years of experience in Senior Housing, Jim Moore has published countless articles for both mainstream and market specific publications.  Jim answers your questions in regards to strategy and operations every month in McKnights Senior Living

You Asked: Do I Need An Exit Strategy?exit

Many owner/operators say they don’t intend to sell; they plan to ride out the various business cycles and they’re not about to leave the senior living industry. But having a sound exit strategy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually planning to get out. It’s somewhat like thinking about our life expectancy. To stay healthy, should you do anything differently? In early 2016, you can use an exit strategy for several beneficial reasons.

Here is a simple strategy for estimating the approximate value of this exit strategy by determining today’s valuation, using a capitalization rate of 7%. Simply divide your actual annual net operating income (NOI) by 0.07. If your community has annual revenue of $3.6 million and expenses of $2.3 million representing an operating profit margin of 36%, then the NOI from this performance would be $1.3 million. Dividing that annual NOI figure by 0.07 reflects a preliminary value of approximately $18.6 million. Many who went through that simple exercise have changed their attitude about whether to consider an exit strategy.

Whether you actually decide to sell is an important decision. Whether you plan to fold your cards soon or hold them for a long time, having a sound exit strategy can only help.

To find out how Jim and the staff at MDS  can help you in regards to developing your exit strategy, contact us today.

Minimum Wage Issue Can Impact Senior Living

Minimum Wage Issue Can Impact Senior Living

There Is A Win-Win Strategic Solution

The potential impact of the emerging minimum wage increase on Senior living is currently unclear.  Right now it may be speculation, but it could become very real in the near future.  Now is the time to anticipate a future impact and develop an appropriate response.  The good news is that regardless of the minimum wage impact on Senior living, there are available practical responses that will have a favorable long run impact for astute owner-operators.

money-1012598_1920 The minimum wage issue is clearly an ethical dilemma and a real world business challenge.  Two conflicting issues are emerging; a legitimate moral and financial concern for lower paid, entry level employees versus a potentially serious fundamental business impact.

Many feel that modestly increasing the standard of living for lowly paid workers is the right thing to do.  But price and profit sensitive businesses with high concentrations of low-cost workers are concerned.   Industries like fast food would be dealing with several critical variables like higher prices, possibly a lower customer base, or lower profits.  Consideration is also being given to lowering cost by reducing entry level employee counts.  Simply stated, the fast-food industry and other businesses may have to reevaluate and adjust their business model.

There are also concerns that if the baseline minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (the current Federal standard), is increased by approximately $1.50 to at least $8.75 per hour, there could also be pressure to increase the hourly wages of other lower paid entry-level employees in an attempt to sustain the current offset from the increased minimum wage.  New York, California, Oregon, and Connecticut and Massachusetts have already set their minimum wage higher than $8.75 per hour.  Other states already either have an official minimum wage of at least $8.00 per hour or considering similar increases.

How Might This Affect the Senior Living Industry

There is a heavy concentration of entry level workers at a typical independent living or assisted living community.  Those entry level positions typically include housekeepers, laundry personnel, cooks, servers, and other dietary employees, as well as drivers, security personnel, some maintenance positions, and healthcare workers.

Let’s look at a typical 110 unit assisted living community with 55 Full Time Equivalent Employees (FTEs).  This staffing ratio of 0.5 FTEs per unit is a typical benchmark.  The types of lower wage earner workers mentioned earlier totals 43 FTEs.  Their current entry level wages range from $11.00 per hour (housekeeper, laundry and some health care support, security and maintenance workers) to $11.70 per hour for CNAs.

There could eventually be pressure by workers, labor unions and other interest groups to attempt to sustain the current offset between minimum wage levels and other entry level worker pay.  For example, if the minimum wage is increased by approximately $1.50 per hour, this offset, if also achieved by other workers, will have a significant financial impact on this assisted living community.

A financial sensitivity analysis of this issue revealed the following:

  • Annual Payroll Increase of $149,800 or 10.2%
  • Total Expense Increase of 4.5%
  • Net Operating Profit Margin Decrease of 3.4% (from $1.5 million to $882,450 in net income)

At an 8.0% capitalization rate, the intrinsic value of this community would decrease by approximately $1.9 million.  Granted, the potential minimum wage increase impact on other entry level wages involves speculation at this time, but the change is very likely to occur.

There is a viable win-win solution to this potential financial dilemma.  The solution involves three basic initiatives:  1) Reducing overall operating expenses, 2) Enhancing revenues and 3) Realizing organic growth through increased occupancy and expanded services within the community.  This strategy can be a very significant win-win solution because it addresses both the potential minimum wage financial impact and also improves the community’s long run financial performance.

BE PREPARED FOR STRATEGIC CHANGE

BE PREPARED FOR STRATEGIC CHANGE

 

Our Industry Is Entering Into The “Second Generation”

When we think of “generations” we typically consider population in general and our peers, children and grandchildren.  We know unique generations commonly think differently in terms of lifestyle, finances, how they spend their money and their perception of value . . . in other words their “psychographics” are different.  The term psychographics is broadly defined as the use of demographics to determine the attitudes, perceptions and behavior of a particular segment of our population.Strategy(compressed)

Let’s sharpen the definition of population psychographics and apply it specifically to our senior living industry in terms of two important consumer generations; 1) The Silent Generation, ages 70 to 90 – age, income and asset qualified seniors as potential residents for our communities and 2) The Baby Boom and Baby Busters ages 55 to 64 – the decision influencers for senior living.  Let’s also consider the professionals that design and operate our communities.  These designs and operating strategies are changing.

There are dramatic differences we need to address as we make the critical transition into the second generation of our industry.  They involve two primary consumer generations:

1. The Silent Generation – 1925 to 1945. This generation has two major components:

  • The Depression Era (1929 to 1939). When I talk to seniors and conduct senior focus groups, I always ask, “Does having lived through the Depression in any way affect your financial decision-making today?”  The answer is always a resounding
  • World War II (1940-1945). GIs came home from the war, married, bought homes and had children in record numbers (the Boomers).  These veterans were motivated to make up for lost time.  After getting educated under the GI Bill, they built businesses, careers and built personal savings.  They are generally fiscally conservative.

2. The Baby Boomers – 1946 to 1964. The Boomers and the Baby Busters (1965 to 1980) have a current age spectrum of 35 to 69.  Their psychographics are:

  • The “Gray Flannel Suit” Era (1946 – 1980). During this period, many men and women entered the corporate world prepared to spend their careers with one employer.  They were generally “team players” – conforming, spending their time responding to the requirements of their employers as they worked through their careers.
  • Vietnam Era & the Rebellions of 1960s & 1970s. This troublesome period (1960 – 1974) created large groups of disillusioned veterans and many “maverick consumers”. A large portion of the population did not accept these nonconformists, which only triggered further rebellion against “the establishment”.

The younger element of the Silent Generation and the Boomers are the foundation of the emerging second generation of our industry.  Their attitudes and opinions have also been shaped by the boom/bust cycles of the past 20 years and the very low savings rates experienced by fixed income seniors.

The typical life cycle of the Silent and the Boomer generations has been defined as approximately 18 to 20 years old respectively.  The modern day senior living industry “first generation” life cycle is defined as approximately 30 years (1985 to 2015).  Just like consumer psychographics and trends, some dramatic strategic changes are taking place in our industry

Multiple Generations affect senior living marketing strategy

Tomorrow’s senior living marketing prospects are no longer “the usual prospects.” They are raising the bar of expectations and will be much more articulate in expressing their wants, needs and perceptions of value.  It’s time to redouble your efforts at understanding today’s age 75-plus consumers while becoming more savvy about how you market to them.  Actually, quite a lot is known about the current mindset of the senior consumer; the challenge is translating this knowledge into practical communication and marketing strategies.  Take, for example, pricing.  Most of us know we should sell tangible value before price.  But, in our zeal to tell our story, we forget that the process involves three very important steps:

1) Truly understand the senior consumer mindset

2) Identify and correct common senior misconceptions

3) Deploy consumer-focused, market-driven positioning

Finally, realize that we are evolving to another generation of prospects and we are dealing with senior consumers who have experienced a number of life-changing events.  The financial implications are enormous.

A word of caution: Don’t get misled by the opinions expressed by your existing residents.  These opinions may no longer necessarily reflect the changing mindset of your future residents.

Jim Moore is president of Moore Diversified Services, Inc., a national Senior housing and health care consulting firm based in Fort Worth, Texas.  He has written several books about assisted living and Senior housing, including Independent Living and CCRCs. Jim is also a regular contributor to industry publications such as McKnights Long Term Care News and various industry association publications.  Contact MDS at 817-731-4266 to discuss your consulting needs.

Employee Recognition Can Help Motivation and Retention

Employee Recognition Can Help Motivation and Retention

by Kim Jimenez

I keep seeing this quote on social media: “Employees who feel valued will do more than expected.”

Employee Engagement is a current concept garnering lots of attention.  Employee Engagement refers to and measures how connected and committed an employee is to an organization, its product and its customers.  High employee engagement can result in greater productivity, increased morale and higher retention. Therefore, companies are looking for ways to increase employee engagement. One such way is employee incentives and recognition.

Engaged Employee
Employee Engagement – Appreciation Major Factor in Multi-faceted Approach

According to a 2014 paper by Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) “employees not only want good pay and benefits, they also want…to be valued and appreciated for their efforts” (Society for Human Resource Management, 2014).  While some organizations may shy away from formal recognition programs because they think they may be too expensive to implement, it is not necessarily monetary recognition employees are looking for. Recognition can be internal recognition, public recognition or staff appreciation events.  Even small items like t-shirts, gift cards, thank you notes, and coffee mugs can be effective if genuinely presented for noted achievements.

Also, there are any number of areas for which a company can structure a recognition program depending on the organization and its employees.  Some such areas according to SHRM can be as simple as attendance and years of service or more involved like systems improvements, talent acquisition, innovation, and/or “champions of change.”  Recognition can be structured however the organization can effective track and designate employee contribution.  Then recognition should be consistent and immediate.  An inconsistent program will not motivate employees.  But overall, good recognition programs can be very effective.

Taking recognition to the national level can not only motivate employees but provide credibility to both the employee and the organization.  National recognition can be an organizational designation or recognition coordinated with industry associations or regulatory agencies.  There are a number of national designations, awards and achievements available for employees and organizations to draw from within every industry.  National recognition can bring a level of respect from subordinates, coworkers and customer’s alike.  It may even motivate other employees to strive to obtain the same designation and recognition.

Give as much thought into how to win over your employees as you do your customers; your employees are your customers.  Treat them right and they will treat your customers right.

 

References

Society for Human Resource Management. (2013, March 21). Developing and Sustaining Employee Engagement. Retrieved from Society for Human Resource Management: https://www.shrm.org/templatestools/toolkits/pages/sustainingemployeeengagement.aspx

Society for Human Resource Management. (2014, September 12). Managing Employee Recognition Programs. Retrieved from Society for Human Resource Management: https://www.shrm.org/templatestools/toolkits/pages/employeerecognitionprograms.aspx

 

Kim Jimenez has been a regular contributor to the MDS website and MDS blog for the past 15 years.  Kim holds a supervisory position in a Fortune 100 company and has extensive experience with a multitude of employee, training and leadership issues.  She is currently obtaining her degree in Human Resource Management at Southern New Hampshire University

Management Mondays: Communication is Key

Management Mondays: Communication is Key

 

Are your employees meeting your organization’s standards and goals or just barely reaching minimum expectations? Are you seeing a decline in resident satisfaction? Are operations just not up to par and not sure why? One issue you must investigate is communication.  Are goals and decisions getting communicated effectively and completely to those down the line? Can your front-line employees restate policies, procedures, and goals as well as how and why these things apply to them?

"What if, and I know this sounds kooky, we communicated with the employees."The decisions you make at the top are important but they will not matter much if the actions of those employees on the “front lines” do not line up with those decisions.  Employees need to be, MUST be, invested and informed: Do they know your organization’s mission? Do they realize how they speak to or interact with people affect that mission? Are employees getting proper feedback on their performance in regards to company standards? Upper management needs to communicate goals, missions, and reasons behind decisions that affect employees.  If decisions seem random to employees, they are less likely to embrace them and support them.  If employees can see how decisions improve service, improve resident satisfaction, improve business and therefore benefit them in some way, they are more likely to support you in these decisions.

On the reverse side, can employees reasonably incorporate expectations into their daily routines? Are the policies and procedures handed down to your front-line employees realistic? Are you asking already overworked employees to do more, take on even more than they already have time for? Again, communication is key.  Get with your employees and get feedback on new initiatives you are handing down to them.  How do they see these affecting their work? Do they feel it will make the difference you say it is going to make? Are these initiatives resident centered or business centered? Those employees involved directly with the residents may give a different perspective or creative ways to implement actions those in corporate may not have thought of.  Keep in mind, while something looks good on paper in the boardroom, implementation may be more complicated in the day to day operations of a resident-centered facility.

Another think to consider: Do employees report to more than one supervisor or manager? This can be complicated when each supervisor has different priorities.  Make sure priorities and tasks are consistent for each employee and there is not a conflict of “whose requests should I make a priority.”  Again, communication on ALL levels as well as communication going both up and down the organizational ladder will make for a more cohesive workgroup and increase the likelihood of meeting and even exceeding goals.

MDS can help evaluate where your organization stands with a comprehensive operational analysis.  A follow-up strategic planning session or retreat can help make sure your current business goals are on track and develop new and innovative ideas.

Kim Jimenez has been a regular contributor to the MDS website and MDS blog for the past 15 years.  Kim holds a supervisory position in a Fortune 100 company and has extensive experience with a multitude of employee, training and leadership issues.  She is currently obtaining her degree in Human Resource Management at Southern New Hampshire University

Explanations Go a Long Way on Resumes

Explanations Go a Long Way on Resumes

 

Leaving off pertinent information is why so many Resume, pertinent information, Senoir Living Consultant, Senior Living Consultingresumes go in the trash.

It’s difficult to balance out the amount of information presented in a resume. With the shorter attention spans today, it’s important to get to the point. You don’t want to bog the reader down with reams of useless information — but you also need to make sure you include vital information that demonstrates why you are worthy of further consideration. You can’t just cut your resume down for the sake of word count.

Make Sure Your Resume Includes Pertinent Information

While there are many areas this tip could apply to, let’s focus on past employment. As a hiring manager, this is the first area of a candidate’s resume that I look at. I want to see if the candidate has any related work experience, and I want to see how stable their employment history is.

Most hiring managers are looking for long-term employees, and stability is important. Despite that, I receive more resumes today than ever before with tenures of five months here, four months there, and seven months here, with no explanation. Short job tenures are not bad in and of themselves, but without an explanation of some kind, the worst is assumed. I will usually not waste my time doing a simple phone screen — and definitely not an in-person interview — with a candidate that has a history of unexplained short-tenured positions.

Case in Point: A good friend of mine found herself unemployed at the end of 2013 due to staff cuts resulting from her company being bought out. Her unemployment dragged on for about six months, with very little activity.

After looking at her resume, I figured out why. She had a stable work history with three companies up until 2009, averaging eight years of tenure at each business. Then, after 2009, she had six jobs in a couple different industries. It was no wonder she was not getting any calls: It looked as if something had happened to make her very unstable in this period.

My friend had been employed in the building material industry for her entire career. Beginning in mid-2006, the housing slow down led to tough times in that industry. My friend had been laid off or downsized in company buyouts or mergers four times during this period. She was also a single mother and had to take a few part-time jobs to pay her mortgage and put food on the table.

Resume, pertinent information, Senior Living consulting, senior living consultantJust looking at her resume, you could not tell any of this. It looked as if something had gone haywire and hiring managers were reluctant to even call her. Don’t expect that a hiring manager is going to take the time to try and connect the dots on your resume. That’s not their job. It’s up to the candidate to try and fill in any holes in their own resume.

The Proof Is in the Details

My friend went back and filled in all the gaps on her resume by including the reasons why she separated from each company. Within in the first few days of using this updated resume, she began getting interviews and job offers worthy of her experience and talent. Within a month, she was hired by a leading specialty building material supplier.

My friend didn’t change anything about her fragmented work history. All she did was add a little explanation. This had the tremendous benefit of helping hiring managers — especially those that lived through the difficult economic times — understand why her resume looked the way it did.

Are You Explanations Satisfactory?

There are many satisfactory explanations for short job tenures — they just need to be noted for busy hiring managers to quickly and easily see them. The shaky economy of the last few years has increased the number of downsizings, closings, and mergers, all of which have resulted in many layoffs.

Similarly, some positions are, by nature, contract- and project-oriented. These roles will result in job changes every six months or so, but not because you are an unsteady or troubled employee.

Furthermore, there are also those younger adults who have been working internships to try and gain experience in various careers. In today’s new economy, there are also those part-time and stopgap positions that employees need to bridge the gap between permanent, full-time positions.

Resumes, Senior Living consulting, senior living consultantJust remember that having multiple short-tenured positions is not the kiss of death — if you take the time to provide a short explanation for your limited tenure, that is. It need be no more than a few words under the job title, such as “contract position,” “internship,” “temporary work,” “layoff,” or whatever the situation was.