Changing careers or disciplines isn't unusual today. In fact, it's becoming more common, according to Eric Chen, MSM, MSAT, MBA, JD, assistant professor at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, CT. "This is clearly not our fathers' nor our grandfathers' employment situation," Chen noted. The significant erosion in trust and loyalty between employer and employee, and the growing trend of using temporary contractors, has resulted in a fluid employment sector. "Clearly, the days when an individual would stay an entire career with a company, climbing the corporate ladder from within, are now the exception rather than the norm."
Whether by choice or necessity, if you find yourself looking for a new position, you'll be primed and ready to go if you keep your résumé shined up.
Ever found yourself sitting in a recruiter's waiting room, facing a blank employment application and trying to recall employment dates, or better yet, scrolling through your cell phone to find a reference's contact information?
Like anyone, job seekers face short- and long-term memory loss, Teena Rose, a professional speaker, career coach, author, résumé writer and job strategist, told ADVANCE.
Keeping abreast of changing job responsibilities, like serving on ad-hoc committees or handling special projects, can be difficult -- never mind trying to recall specific financial details of a successful budgetary reconfiguration, or the dates you started a job or got promoted. "Committing to the most basic upkeep of your résumé can make the overall task of updating your résumé much, much easier," Rose said.
How often you update your résumé is up to you, as career progression and other factors vary among individuals. The key is to follow a regular maintenance schedule.
In health care, openings are posted and filled quickly because empty positions can endanger patients and hamper turnaround times, according to Rose. To respond quickly, update your résumé and then format it appropriately according to an organization's requirements for time-sensitive job openings. Making moderate and incremental improvements to your résumé will make the task less stressful.
Also, fine-tune your résumé with branding statements, taglines and a situation/action/response writing style -- techniques designed to help you show off your career, she advised.
Résumé-refreshing only makes sense if you are steadily refreshing your career. You must be "résumé-ready" and "career-ready," Lisa Boesen, MAOM, PHR, advised.
Gone are the days when you can maintain the status quo and expect to be promoted or receive an "exceeds expectations" performance appraisal, said Boesen, a health care professional with expertise in direct patient care, clinical management, human resources, organizational development and performance improvement.
"I have heard health care providers state 'If the organization is not paying, then I'm not going to do it,'" she said. "But if you are interested in your career, even if it is maintaining an independent, contributing health care provider role, you need to be prepared and have an annual plan apart from the annual performance appraisal process."
Take advantage of every opportunity to learn, stressed Boesen, who learned new skills while working in respiratory care and leveraged that effort into a career in human resources. Learning sets you apart as a top performer and ideal candidate should you find yourself in the job market. Try to learn at least one new thing a year. Join a professional organization. Obtain a new certification. Tackle a new language or skill.
"Reaching to extend your skills and competencies through stretch assignments, mentoring, precepting, a charge position or continuing education not only builds leadership capabilities but also indicates initiative and personal commitment to professional growth," she said.
Value of Cross-Training
Volunteer to cross-train in some area; it will make you more valuable to your department and less likely to be downsized, offered Richard S. Deems, PhD, of WorkLife Design, and co-author of Make Job Loss Work For You.
"Many health care units want cross-trained staff so adjustments in staffing can be made quickly, without calling in anyone else or paying overtime," Deems said.
Like Boesen, Deems also advises health care professionals to become active within their professional associations. "Volunteer to help on projects and even volunteer to be on the association's board or a program committee," he suggested. Supervisors and peers will see your efforts as evidence you want to make a difference.
Added Rose: "Focused, continuous education and training, including formal, on-the-job and volunteer, should be the goal for anyone in any career field." Continuing education is not only required for many health care certifications and licenses, but it sets you apart as engaged and motivated, as someone who offers the best value to employers and patients. Advanced training leads to job promotions, salary increases and smoother job searches.
Deems had a final tip on becoming less downsize-able. "Be the kind of employee others enjoy working with," he said. "Being a pleasure to work with can help you keep the job you have, or help you find a valuable reference for your job search."
Kerri Hatt is on staff at ADVANCE.