Put Your Best Foot Forward When Looking for a New Job
By Carla Perrotta
All too often, the pressures and frustrations of working in the healthcare industry can look insurmountable and lead many into an endless progression of jobs. The costs to the individual of constantly changing employers can be staggering when you factor in the lost income and savings over a career.
The first consideration is the immediate loss of cash from the time you leave your old job until the first paycheck you receive. That can easily add up to three or four weeks. Multiply that over the course of a career and youre talking tens of thousands of dollars.
In addition, your new employer will not give you any credit for all the years youve worked for other employers. Plus you lose insider intelligence of how to work the system, seniority, longevity pay, vacation time or other bonuses.
Benefits such as medical insurance and retirement programs will also be jeopardized. Most companies require you to be on the payroll for at least 30 days before offering medical coverage. Finding temporary insurance to cover you in the event of a catastrophe is a major drain on income. In addition, some pre-existing conditions that may have been covered previously, may not be covered. From a retirement perspective, vesting and contribution levels likely will be adversely affected.
While Im not a big advocate of changing jobs because of the financial strain it places on people and the fact that the grass is rarely greener on the other side, there nevertheless comes a time when change is whats needed to jumpstart a career. Youve exhausted your options internally as youve tried to resolve issues. Youre stuck in a job where you are overworked and underappreciated. Whatever the reason, the time has come to move on.
If and when that time comes, its time to put your best foot forward and make the best possible impression on a prospective employer. Following are some tips on how to make your next job search your last job search.
Conduct a realistic self-analysis about what drove you away from your last job. Begin by finding out everything there is to know about the healthcare environment in which you will be working by visiting the facility, talking to co-workers, employees and anyone else that might be able to offer some insight. Other good sources of information include annual reports, newspapers, and websites. Make sure you fully understand the compensation and benefits package.
Once you toss your hat into the ring, you must prepare to sell yourself in the interview. Following are rules to guide you:
- Come prepared. Know yourself your strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments, and be prepared to tailor your sales pitch to a number of different personality types that may be involved in the selection process.
- Be well dressed and properly groomed. Appearance is a critical evaluation component.
- Arrive 15 to 30 minutes early. Punctuality is a subtle clue about attitude and behavior. Tardiness, no matter the excuse, is a major blunder.
- Exhibit enthusiasm. First impressions, positive or negative, dramatically affect the ultimate evaluation. You can make or break an interview within the first five minutes.
- Appear friendly and outgoing. Smile and say hello to everyone. A positive reaction from the support staff is an important factor in the evaluation.
- Be self-confident. High self-esteem and self-confidence are the hallmarks of the successful individual. With confidence, be able to demonstrate how you have overcome obstacles.
- Come prepared for key questions. Practice your responses to all the typical questions, such as Tell me about yourself and Why are you looking for a new position? How well you speak will have a bigger impact than what you say.
- Remain involved. The most effective interviews are those where an active two-way conversation takes place. Not the typical question and answer type. Begin early in the interview to interject your own relevant insight.
- Establish your worth. Discuss your specific accomplishments that demonstrate a proactive attitude.
- Know your six key strengths. Be prepared to discuss in detail and with examples your five or six main attributes. These should be the ultimate reason you get the job over someone else.
- Give one-to two-minute responses. Communication is the key to successful interviewing. A minimum of one to two minutes of well-prepared discussion gives the interviewer insight into your intellect and supports your contentions.
- Provide examples/details. Support statements about yourself with specific examples. These will provide legitimacy to your claims. Without them, the interviewer may not accept them as valid.
- Remain attentive. Stay alert during the interview. Maintain good eye contact. Sit forward in your chair. Show high levels of interest and stay enthused. These actions can maintain or generate momentum during the interview.
- Dont be arrogant. This is not the time to show how much you know. A presumptuous, overbearing attitude will offset the finest abilities.
- Ask probing questions. A few strategic questions can demonstrate your intelligence, analytical skills and assertiveness. Have these prepared from your research. Avoid superficial small talk.
- Be positive about co-workers. Dont bad-mouth previous positions, companies or employers. No matter how well founded, this implies a negative attitude, typical of those who dont take personal responsibility for their actions.
- Clearly state your interest. By the conclusion of the interview, state that you are definitely interested in the position and would like to know when the next step will take place. Its best to demonstrate this interest throughout the session. Be careful not to go overboard.
- Know your objective and end with it. Establish your objective before the interview, like a second interview or an offer. Ask for it if you have not achieved it. Ask a question such as, do you think my skills match your needs? This gets straight to the point and, at worse, reveals other obstacles to overcome.
Carla Perotta has 22 years in the healthcare staffing industry and is now responsible for all business operations related to Kelly Healthcare Resources, a business unit of staffing provider Kelly Services Inc., based in Troy, Mich. Kelly Healthcare Resources provides healthcare staffing solutions to hospitals, clinics, businesses, healthcare facilities, insurance companies, HMOs and clinical research organizations. For more information please visit www.kellyhealthcare.com.