Finding a Job in Healthcare

With the abundance of jobs in health careers, finding a job in this field is far easier than in other fields. The challenge is finding the best job, the position that best matches your personality, education, experience, and goals while maximizing income. Before beginning a job search, take inventory of your education, skills, and experience and create a resume or curriculum vitae. A C.V., or curriculum vitae, is a resume used by physicians and scientists, particularly when they have research experience and/or have published scientific papers. Also jot down characteristics of your ideal job and make a list of contacts, including people you might contact to inquire about jobs or put the word out that you are in the job market. Check professional journals, hospital and professional websites, and general job sites to identify open positions.

Now that you're ready for a full-fledged job hunt, get in touch with your contact list, starting with contacts that might be able to assist with known open positions. Advise each contact that you are looking for a new position and have an interest in an open position at their practice or hospital. Ask your contact for an interview or help setting up an interview for the position. Apply to other positions that match the job characteristics on your list. Specialist physicians and hospital managers may prefer to use a health care recruiter rather than handle the job search themselves. For a fee, generally paid by the hiring party, recruiters match physicians and executives with positions, decreasing the job hunt workload and adding a degree of confidentiality to the search process.

Many printed and online resources are available to help you locate your dream job. National, state, and local professional newsletters and journals often include a listing of job opportunities. Hospital websites also often include a listing of open positions. Given the high number of health care positions, though, a large number can be found at job sites, such as usajobs.gov, monster.com, or careerbuilder.com, where job seekers can post their resume online for viewing by potential employers. Job seekers should also complete a linkedin profile at www.linkedin.com to build a professional page to share with colleagues and encourage new contacts.

Resumes. The resume or curriculum vitae remain the standard employment information sheet when pursuing health careers. Even in today's digital world, resumes remain critical, though they are sometimes presented in different formats. Therefore, it is critical to spend some time developing written and digital versions of your resume that, in a single page, will confer the qualities that make you the best candidate for a job.

Your resume should include contact information including your name, address, telephone number, and email address. This is a good time to change your phone greeting to a professional one that includes your name and to eliminate any standard signatures or stationary on your outgoing emails that may not be perceived professionally.

Your resume must also include three critical elements that will convince potential employers of your value: education, experience, certifications, and licenses. Research and publications included on a curriculum vitae are critical to some positions. Applicants without research or publication history should work diligently to keep their resume to a single page despite any need to encapsulate. Employers rarely take the time to read more than a single page unless they are reviewing research history relative to the current position.

Remarks under education should include degrees, name of the school, year of completion, and any honors received. Education should also include seminars and workshops relative to employment. For brevity, these might be encapsulated, as "emergency medicine seminars," for example. You can provide further details in a cover letter or during an interview if the details are relevant to a particular position.

Applicants graduating from school may have a limited amount of work experience. Internships and volunteer positions that helped you gain experience in your field may be included on a resume. Employment unrelated to your field is also relevant for showing desirable employee qualities such as work ethic, dedication, and communication skills. Experienced applicants should limit their resume to positions related to the work they are pursuing. There's no need to include a work history extending back to high school if an employer will only focus on the last one or two positions, although a statement that additional or prior work history is available on request would be acceptable.

Listing current licenses and certifications is critical when applying for health careers since many health care positions depend upon a valid license and specific certifications. Some applicants also choose to include membership in professional associations or organizations. These may be relevant to an employer if the applicant holds a leadership position within the organization.

When emailing resumes to prospective employers, directly or through a job site, customize your resume for the particular position and send a cover letter or email to supplement your resume. Mailed resumes should be sent with a cover letter as well. Use the cover letter to highlight valuable personal characteristics such as work ethic, ability to work well with others, ability to teach, promise to be a continuous learner, and attention to detail. Remark on the needs of the practice or hospital, why the position interests you, and why you are the best match for the position. Conclude by asking for an interview.

Social media sites, including the professional site linkedin.com, are used to pursue and evaluate candidates. Consider building a profile on this site. Keep your profile updated and ensure that all statements and comments or recommendations are professional. Employers are more likely to view applicants positively if the applicant has sincere, positive recommendations on the site.

Interviews. A job interview resembles a first date. Both parties gather verbal and non-verbal information about each other to decide the value of continuing the relationship. Applicants should lay the groundwork for a successful first interview in advance. After providing a resume or C.V. and a unique cover letter identifying strengths related to this opening, an applicant should research the practice or hospital. Many resources, including company websites and professional information, are available online. Applicants should speak to any contacts with current or former experience with the employer to get a sense of the work environment, culture, and needs of the open position. Adequate preparation demonstrates an applicant's interest in the position and allows fine-tuning of answers.

The applicant should arrive early for the interview and take care to be cordial and professional with any employees he meets. Be mindful that these individuals may soon be your coworkers, so you want to develop a positive relationship from the start. In private practice, particularly, every employee you meet may have a say in the person selected for the position. Applicants should dress professionally in office attire for an interview and not arrive in scrubs. Bring a copy of your resume since the interviewer may not have one readily available.

Offer the interviewer a firm handshake and cordial greeting. Allow the interviewer to lead the early part of the interview as you answer questions openly and sincerely. The applicant's first goal in the interview should be to show the employer that he is the best person for the job. The applicant's second goal should be to determine whether this position is the best match for him. Applicants should come prepared with questions about the practice or hospital, the culture and policies of the practice, and the specific responsibilities of the job, in regards to both duties and scheduling. While matters of salary, benefits, and continuing education are all important and relevant, applicants should not ask about them unless the employer does first. Those details are often provided at a later interview by a practice manager or human resources department and will be provided before a decision must be made.

The top applicant(s) may be invited to spend some time at the practice, a second date if you will, to meet additional staff and observe how the applicant fits into the culture of the practice. Applicants may be asked again to interview specifically with other partners in the practice. Until an offer is in hand and accepted, each interaction should be treated as seriously as a first interview.

At the end of the interview, if an applicant has decided that the position may be a good match, the applicant should ask for the job, "I'd like to work for you," or "I'm excited about the work you're doing here. I would like this position." An applicant stating that he wants the position leaves a positive impression with the interviewer and leaves little room for interpretation. Interviewees may also ask about the hiring process, including the next step and timeframe for a decision. Lastly, an applicant should follow up with a formal note expressing interest or a well-timed phone call for an update on the process. Health careers are professional positions that require planning and skilled interviews.

References. When employers choose between applicants with the same education and certifications, the choice frequently comes down to experience and personal characteristics. References are critical to confirm work history and job duties and speak to personal characteristics that affect employment. Individuals pursuing health careers should offer potential employers several references in the medical field.

A good reference will be someone with direct knowledge of the applicant in the workplace, specifically in a job related to the job the applicant is pursuing. Employers prefer references from supervisors, but other colleagues with detailed knowledge of the applicant's performance can suffice. As a general rule, employers prefer two or three references. References are not listed on a resume, but will be requested at a later time if the employer is interested in the applicant. Many hospitals and private practices ask applicants for every position, no matter the level, to complete an application. While much of the information requested on an application duplicates a resume, the application may require more detailed information and references. Applications are required because they offer a consistent resource and demand a signature on a legal disclosure. A well-written application advises that employment will be terminated if any presented information is inaccurate. To be safe, applicants should take the name, address, phone number, and email of their references to interviews.

Applicants should select references who can verify the details of their work-related history and with whom they have a positive relationship. Applicants new to the field or just out of school may need to offer references from internships, school programs, or employment in other fields. Applicants should not offer references who entertain a personal, non-professional relationship with the applicant. Employers do not find that information helpful in making a hiring decision. Employers will obtain sufficient details of work-related character and personality from professional references.

Before identifying a reference to a potential employer, applicants should contact the potential references, inform her about the types of positions to which he is applying, and request permission to use the reference. An unprepared reference, a reference that doesn't remember the applicant well, or a reference that has had a negative experience with the applicant will not provide a positive reference.

Applicants should consider sending a thank you note or email to references who have offered support. It is also professional and considerate to advise the reference when a position has been offered and accepted.

Last Updated: 05/21/2014