By Kenneth T. Hertz, CMPE
Principal, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group
If you're a jobless medical administrator in this poor economy, it's time to dust off the resume and land your next gig. Thankfully, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published good news for our industry: "Employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow 16 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations," according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition.
You're in the right field to get a job during these tough economic times, but how can you elevate your application above the rest? In my role as an executive recruiter, I spend hours reviewing medical resumes and speaking with candidates and hours listening to the concerns of my clients. In a successful job search, both client's and candidate's needs are met.
Follow these basic tips to work your way to the top of health care recruiters' lists:
- Read the job advertisement carefully.
It sounds obvious, but in my experience some people simply don't read the advertisement before they apply. I recently worked on an assignment for a medical group administrator in which I received four applications applying for a receptionist position. Be sure you're applying for the right job.
- Don't copy and paste.
Write a cover letter for each medical group practice job you apply to. I can tell when candidates mass-produce the letter, and it's not impressive.
During a recent search for a private-practice administrator, I received a cover letter outlining a candidate's experience in hospital administration, long-term care facilities and developing his private consulting business. Not a word about his experience in private practices, or a link from his previous experience to private practice. Do you think this candidate made it to the next level?
When I changed fields from the arts to health care I had to sell my skill set and show its adaptability to health care. I carefully crafted each cover letter to do just that, and I made the switch relatively easily. This would not have happened if all I did was speak about my arts experience.
Same goes for medical resume writing: Don't use a generic resume for every job. If the ad asks for a chronological resume, don't submit a 20-page functional resume. Nobody will read it.
- Pay attention to the details.
Double-check your spelling, grammar, dates, job information, etc. In a recent job search I conducted, a candidate indicated he was the administrator for a 28-physician group, but the details of the position outlined his work with 27 physicians. Sure, this seems small, but it causes a recruiter to question the rest of the information. Also, avoid using unusual typefaces, formats, colors or paper for your application and rÃ¨sumÃ¨.
- Keep your medical resume short but informative.
What's the right length for a resume? A high school English teacher of mine compared the ideal length of a paragraph to a woman's skirt: "Long enough to cover the subject, yet short enough to be interesting." While that analogy is less than politically correct today, it makes a good point. Stick to the facts and important information and learn how to edit yourself. If you can't, find somebody who can.
During a recent phone call with a search committee, one physician said, "I like this candidate, his resume is short and to the point - one page. Let's talk with him." During the same meeting another physician said, "This candidate's resume is six pages long. I can't make sense of this. I don't want to take any more time with him." Because of the look of the resume, one candidate got to the next level and another candidate didn't. Detailing every action you've taken over a 20-year career may just be too much. Think of your resume as a 15-second pitch. Tell me enough to get me interested - in fact, eager - to know more.
- Fill in the blanks.
If your resume suggests you've switched jobs frequently, add comments addressing why you left the positions. They don't have to be long or air dirty laundry. Each of us has had a job that just wasn't the right fit, and we moved on. One or two jobs like this are OK, but if your whole resume looks like that, I may pass on it without ever speaking with you. That would be a shame if there were good reasons for the changes.
I recently received a resume from a PhD applying for an administrator position. He had been at his current position for three years. A brief bullet under the job title, practice and location said "Practice splitting into two smaller groups and downsizing." This let me know about his reason for leaving, and I was happy to speak with him. Fill in the blanks for recruiters up front - you have a greater chance of passing the initial screening.
Getting the basics right is important to get potential employers to notice you. Your cover letter and professional resume should pique my interest and make me want to call you to find out more.
After you perfect your resume, post it to the MGMA Career Center, the premier source for medical group practice job listings from health care organizations nationwide.
For more ideas on advancing your career, visit MGMA's Career Resources page.
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