Friday, October 28, 2011

Advice for Job Seekers

Invariably when people find out that I work for EMR software company, I’m bombarded with questions about how they can get a job in that industry. For example, just a few months ago gave a seminar to a local chapter of the American Association of Professional Coders. After a three-hour Meaningful Use seminar, I was inundated with questions from job seekers. It was a little disappointing considering that I put so much effort into such an important topic as Meaningful Use (it was a really nice Power Point, too). Still, I understand the difficulties in job hunting and considering the difficult economy, people want as many recommendations as possible. 

So as a person responsible for hiring at my company, I will let you in on some secrets based on how I find and hire the ‘right person’. 

Your Resume

The last time I posted a job opening, I got more than 1,600 resumes. I cannot look at them all – even though I wish I could. So, I, like many, use automated tools to narrow down the candidates by keywords contained in their resume. This is not an indication that you should pack up your resume with ridiculous, meaningless, or inappropriately used keywords – that’s just annoying. Instead, be mindful to include keywords that are appropriate in the resume’s context. 

What keywords should you use? That depends on the industry in which you are applying. Do your research. Read industry related news articles – see what is relevant to the industry now. Read the job description and pull key words from there, too. If it is a healthcare job you are seeking, read this blog regularly as I will give you a bunch of useful things to include! Remember, as new buzz words become popular in different industries, your resume has to reflect those new words. For example: Once upon a time there was a thing called a medical biller… today that is a revenue cycle management specialist. Back in the day, people wanted budgeting experience today it’s all about P&L. These words may change by tomorrow for all I know… Simply, make sure your resume is relevant according to the times and the job description. 

Next, I look at the resumes that made it past the automated resume eating monster. Each  manually reviewed resume has 10 seconds to impress me.  Here is what I look at: 

  • Did you include all of the things I asked for? In the job description, I will frequently ask for a cover letter and salary requirements. If that is missing, you have shown me that you are not really interested in the job and your resume is filed… in the PAPER SHREDDER. 
  • Does your resume have spelling errors or blatant grammatical errors? Are you using BIG words to try to impress me?  I really hate when spelling and grammar errors. Double check your resume before sending it and have a friend or 20 friends read through it, too. Further, I am not impressed by BIG words. All BIG words prove that your MS Word has a thesaurus…but, so  does mine… PAPER SHREDDER
  • Does your resume have wild/unorthodox/ or just plain weird formatting? I know it is a tough economy, but seriously??? Yes, those resumes do get my attention, but not in a good way… PAPER SHREDDER
  • What is your resume’s objective statement? Is it relevant to the industry, job description, etc? Is it too general to tell what you are looking for? I look for a strong, relevant objective. If you cannot write a good one-line objective, remove it entirely and add a professional summary instead. Regardless of summary or objective, make sure it is relevant tJ the job for which you are applying. If it is not relevant and strong… I will let you guess where the resume goes.

Rule: Make sure your resume is error free, relevant, and shows that you are more than a drone

Following these steps, I can narrow my candidate pool from 1,600 to around 50 resumes (yes, really resumes are that bad). The remaining resumes get a little more time. Depending on the position I am trying to fill,  I look for unique competency, transferrable skills, education, and experience. I want you to take note of the order in which I listed -unique competency, transferrable skills, education, experience. Unique competency is my top requirements – experience is last. 

How do I define unique competency? Well, for example, everyone knows how to use MS Word and email – don’t bother putting that on your resume.  It is not impressive. However, did you work abroad? Did you participate in some type of foreign exchange program and spend several months in another country? Do you speak more than one language? Tell me that. I am very quick to hire people who have diverse cultural experience. Why? Because, diversity is the lifeblood of business! Your clients are diverse, your colleagues are diverse, and diversity in the work place breeds creativity. I want to know that you have a strong appreciation for cultural diversity as that is a asset in business. 

You may not have any international experience and that’s ok – but what unusual or unique competencies do you have? List them instead! Some other examples could be related to creativity  or above average computer skills.  Do you blog? Give me the link. Are you self-taught in some basic computer programming? Tell me that. Show me your ambition! Show me your drive! Show me creativity! Show me you are more than a drone. Still, be careful not to reveal things that are useless, irrelevant, or embarrassing. 

Ok, this post is getting a little long, so I will stop here for now. In the next post, I will tell you my interview secrets!


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