August 19, 2010
Thinking of a career in health care? Tips from a resume expert
As you've no doubt heard a few thousand times, health care is one of the few U.S. industries still on the rise. In fact, of the 20 vocations the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects to grow the fastest this decade, 10 are in health services.
Some other dazzling statistics the BLS reports on the health care industry:
- About 28 percent of all new jobs created by the year 2018 will be in health care. Put another way, the country will see 3.2 million new health care positions by 2018.
- Thanks to the nation's aging population and increased life expectancy rates, home health care is the largest growing health care sector. In fact, the BLS expects such jobs to grow by 50 percent before 2018.
- The BLS anticipates at least 20 percent job growth for a number of other health care professions, including registered nurses, home health aides, medical assistants, physicians, and surgeons.
- Hospitals traditionally have employed more people than any other segment of the health care industry. But by 2018, the BLS projects that 46.1 percent of health care professionals will work in home health care and 41.3 percent will work at the office of a health care practitioner.
- A majority of jobs in health care require less than a four-year college degree.
For advice on how to worm your way into this burgeoning field -- and how health care resumes differ from those in other business sectors -- I spoke with career consultant and resume expert Louise Kursmark, co-author with Wendy Enelow of Expert Resumes for Health Care Careers, Second Edition. Here's what Kursmark had to say.
Q. What advice would you offer career changers thinking of getting into the health care field?
A. Career changers should do their homework before deciding to make any career switch. Use your network to find and talk to people who work in a variety of health care settings. Find out what they like about their jobs, what they dislike, what they find exciting and frustrating. Ask if you can shadow someone for a day. Strike up conversations with your doctor or nurse, the phlebotomist at the blood lab, the school nurse, anyone from the health field with whom you come in contact.
Q. What might career changers find most surprising about the health care sector?
A. Perhaps one surprising thing about health care is that it is a business like any other, so profit and performance are very important. But most health care jobs are "caring professions," and many people who enter the field do so because they get great satisfaction from helping others. If this is your personality, you'll find a great fit in health care.
Q. What are your top tips for writing a winning health care resume?
A. In any field, your resume needs to illustrate how you meet the needs of the job and the organization. In health care, education and credentialing are often job prerequisites, so be certain you've included these prominently on your resume. A keyword section toward the top of your resume can be used to highlight specific knowledge, skills, and specialty areas that employers are looking for.
Q. How do resumes for the health care field differ from those in other business sectors, if at all?
A. Many health care resumes will not include the measurable accomplishments that you would find in resumes for other, more quantifiable professions such as sales, finance, retail, manufacturing, and so forth. But your resume needs to be more than simply a listing of job titles, credentials, and skills -- which might be the same for every person applying for the job. Your resume needs to include distinguishing and differentiating information, so be certain to highlight your "success stories" and any evidence you can provide that you were good at your job, helped your co-workers, and benefited your patients.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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