We need to get this fixed.

By Steve Moran

A few weeks ago I attended Vision 2025, a remarkable gathering of senior living leaders and academics who spent a good chunk of two days talking about how the industry and universities that have various flavors of senior living academic programs can work together to create a better leadership workforce for our sector.

It was a productive two days, and I came away feeling hopeful; that it was a great first step. But also I was a bit overwhelmed by what needs to be done to create an accessible, easy-to-understand leadership career path. The three biggest questions I came away with are these:

  1. How big is the need as things stand today? Do we need 100 new leaders a year or 5,000? This, of course, depends a lot on categories, so it’s a fairly complex question.

  1. How much of the problem could we solve by not burning through so many people?

  1. How do we determine how to pay a reasonable salary to young people who are passionate and want to see if senior living is right for them; especially given that in their first year they will likely cost more than they contribute?

Hit Smack Dab in the Face . . .

Ten days later I got a message through LinkedIn from a young man who I have never met but whose father is a 30+ year friend. I was his father’s part-time roommate in Beverly Hills decades ago. He, the son, who graduated from a great school in California with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business, has been working for a software company in Southern California for a year and, while the job is fine, he wants something more.

He reached out to me wondering what I thought about where he might start exploring the world of senior living. My first question, of course, was what part? Leadership, capital, or Products and Services. When he said leadership as well as the people side of things, my heart leaped for joy because he is exactly the kind of person we need to continue to grow.

Then my heart kind of deflated, because I honestly had only sort of decent suggestions. I know, of course, that the easiest path is through sales, at least easiest in terms of finding an open position and snagging a starting base that he can live on, not easy in terms of work. And in his case, he would be delighted to take a position as a salesperson in senior living.

But then I start to worry . . .

  • If he lands a sales job, will he get the training and support he needs or will it just be sink or swim?

  • If he would be a great leader but not so great a salesperson, then what?

  • Where should he start? Who should he talk to?

I Honestly Don’t Know . . .

Now curious, I began taking a look at the various places someone might go to look for starter jobs. I found a million front-line jobs all over the country; it was so cluttered it was very difficult to find sales jobs, though there were a few. I found nothing, I checked out all the association job boards (they all look to be white-labeled from the same vendor) and they are terrible. Almost impossible to wade through the completely irrelevant non-industry postings.

Brings Me Here . . .

So maybe you are a lot smarter about this than I am and have some great ideas about where to point him. And yes, I have a ton of people I could point him to and likely get him started, but it shouldn’t be this difficult, this convoluted.

We need to get this fixed.

And, if you have an opportunity for a bright millennial from a great school who is eager to dig into our wonderful sector, I will connect you. He prefers southern California but is open to traveling anywhere in case you are wondering.