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5 Best Practices for Landing a Job in Healthcare

Are you prepared to embrace opportunities in a growing industry?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other research groups project that healthcare jobs will grow by 16% annually through 2020. According to Steve McMahan, executive vice president of Randstat Healthcare, quoted in the January 3, 2013 issue of Medical Economics, "The reality is that healthcare jobs will be in high demand for many years to come, due to an aging population, healthcare reform and technological advances."

As it is likely that healthcare organizations will be aggressively seeking employees, many candidates will be applying for the open positions. The better paying jobs generally require associate, undergraduate and advanced degrees plus special training in the field of specialization, licenses and certification. Generally speaking, the higher the qualifications required to fulfill a position, the higher the income and the greater number of job opportunities. Accordingly, if you intend to or are currently seeking a job in healthcare, you should be sure that you have the necessary education and qualifications to be considered for employment.

Seeking employment in any industry, even one growing as quickly as healthcare, requires careful thought, adequate preparation and diligent persistence. You should assume that there will be numerous applicants for any position that you seek. Your objective is to sell yourself by highlighting work, educational and personal experiences and skills that demonstrate your capability to perform the job for which you've applied -- and being liked never hurts.

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To improve your chance of being hired, there are a number of best practices to take note of and implement: 

5 Best Practices for Landing a Job in Healthcare1. Practice your interview skills. Most schools offer training for healthcare jobs have ongoing relationships with employers that are constantly looking for new employees. If your school offers a chance for an interview with prospective employers, take full advantage of the opportunity -- even when you don't think employment is likely. After all, practice makes perfect.

Interviewing effectively is like every other skill. Few people naturally master its nuances and techniques. It is an ability that can be developed and improved with practice. Most people have some anxiety when interviewing for a job, so the better prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you will be.

Human resources professionals generally recommend the following techniques to become a skilled interviewee:

Do Your Research. Gather as much information about the position and the company as possible before the interview.

Develop Likely Questions and Answers. Having a prepared answer to questions such as "Why do you want to work for us?" or "How will you help my company succeed?" enables you to focus on the questioner, rather than what you have to say.

Practice Interviews. Ask a friend or family member to role-play interview sessions using the questions you developed earlier - and let them surprise you with the order of questions and add a few new ones of their own. Practice smiling and maintaining eye contact. When finished, request feedback, especially critical suggestions for habits such as verbal fillers ("uh," "er," "you know," etc.), fidgeting and looking away when speaking.

Complete Preparatory Work Early. Have your clothes ready, your hair and nails cut if needed, and copies of your resume prepared before the interview, plus directions to the interview site. Arrive about 15 minutes before your interview. This gives you enough time to settle down prior to the meeting.

2. Develop a great resume. Increasingly, employers and employment firms rely heavily on database searches of hundreds of retained resumes to initially identify likely candidates for the jobs they seek to fill. To ease data entry and subsequent searches, the firms often require that the resume be completed in a specific format, or may even require a proprietary form. Even so, developing your own resume, whether given to potential employers or used to assist in the completion of their forms, can help you in your presentation. There are a number of free resume templates available on the Internet from sites such as Resume-Now.com and MyPerfectResume.com.

Your resume should open with the title of the job you are seeking and a description of its duties. It is important to match the employer's title and description of the open position as closely as possible since a computer, not a human, will likely be doing a search of resumes.

3. Use personal relationships to get the job you want. Research suggests that 50% to 70% of jobs are found via personal relationships. Big companies are increasingly turning to their own employees for applicant referrals, targeting the proportion of new hires coming from referrals to be as high as 50%.

A Facebook survey in 2010 found that its average member had between 120 and 130 friends - and when you consider that at least 30 people in your group may be interested in helping you find a job, each of whom may have an additional 30 people willing to help, it's easy to see that the numbers add up quickly. In addition to social networking, check your contacts in civic clubs and fraternal organizations, as well as existing business associations.

4. Become active in industry groups. Build your knowledge and contacts in healthcare industry associations, such as:

LinkedIn has almost 10,000 groups interested in different aspects of healthcare. Participate in online forums and develop online relationships by emails, particularly "thank you" notes and comments of appreciation when someone contacts you. Be sure that your online presence on sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter confirms the image you wish to present to a potential employer -- specifically, don't post anything that may come back to haunt you.

5. Stay current on trends and technology. Scientific and technological progress have affected healthcare tremendously in the last decade, and the speed of change is likely to increase in the future. Someday, your genetic makeup will be used to formulate and prescribe drugs specifically for you, and telecommunication and videoconferencing technologies will lead to virtual doctor visits. Therefore, the pressure on healthcare workers -- particularly those who work in diagnostic areas to maintain professional competence -- will be intense. Keeping your certifications up-to-date is essential to landing and keeping a job in the new healthcare environment.

Final Thoughts
Despite the current controversy over Obamacare, the healthcare industry accounts for almost 18% of the United States' gross domestic product and remains one of the country's largest employers.

"We haven't seen anything yet," says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. These jobs "are going to literally explode over the next two decades."

The opportunity is there. Are you ready to take it?

Mike Lewis is an online contributor who writes about business practices, career development, small business, investing and healthcare.

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