Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Zen and the Art of Finding Your Dream Job

First things first, do you live in the moment?  Many of you are probably nodding your head, thinking the affirmative.."Yes...I live in the moment".  But do you really?  When you are eating your dinner are you thinking about each bite you take?  Are you thinking about how good it tastes, how you (or someone) worked to prepare it, how thankful you are to be nourishing your body, or are you thinking about how yummy dessert will be, or all the clean up that will need to be done after dinner, or what you have to accomplish before bed?  Yeah, I thought so.  Most of us would like to think we live in the moment, but we really don't.  Our minds are always busy worrying about what we must accomplish or fantasizing about something we'd like to happen, or mulling over something that we recently experienced and wish we would've handled differently.  Unfortunately there are no mulligans in real life. 

So why is the "living in the moment" philosophy so important when you're seeking new employment?  Because your attitude and the energy you are projecting will have a huge impact on how successful you are at finding the job of your dreams.  Now I don't claim to be the Employment Guru, but I've learned a thing or two about how to get hired and who is more likely to get hired over the years. 

The more desperation a person gives off while in the interview process the less likely that person is to get hired.  But, it's not as simple as controlling yourself during the interview process... you literally have to change your thought patterns.  If you are constantly stressed about finding employment, you will be seeping stress from your pores, it will reflect in everything you do.  People that are wound too tight are difficult to be around.  Have you ever been around someone that is always stressed?  They're moving too fast, making mistakes, difficult to deal with, often short-tempered and rarely cheerful.... who wants to work with that?  You might be thinking..."If I could just find a job I wouldn't be so stressed anymore" but who will hire you when you're in that mental space of stress and despair?

To quote Dr. Wayne Dyer... "change your thoughts, change your life".  A few years ago I was unexpectedly laid off.  I had recently exhausted much of my savings moving across the country.  I was in a new town, only knew a few people and had never been without work in my life.
When these situations happen, your first instinct is to go into panic mode (what will I do? how will I manage? what if I don't find work? ...on and on goes the little voice in your head).  The best thing to do is take a deep breath, clear your mind and come up with a plan.  Build a good resume, prepare a spreadsheet and market yourself (see my other posts for more on these topics).  As you're going through your day to day process of finding employment take time to breathe, relax and be thankful for what you DO have.  Here is a short list of things most people can be thankful for:  being alive, family, friends, the ability to see, hear, read, feel, walk, talk, taste, a roof over your head, a soft place to sleep, a hot shower, a cold beverage etc.

When you make an effort to put yourself in a place of gratitude and relaxation you are opening yourself up to all the possibilities.  Each day as you are seeking employment visualize the ideal job, the position you most want to fill.  When your mind begins spinning into negativity... STOP! take a walk or a shower or watch a funny video... then re-group and get back at it.  People want to work with people that are upbeat, positive and exude thoughtfulness. 

Try to remember that what you put out into the world is what you will receive back. There is a reason for all the old sayings like "you reap what you sow".  Call it Karma or Kismet or whatever you will...your rate of success will increase with your rate of positivity.  It's ok to give yourself a break.  You've worked hard, you've gained valuable experience, be in a place of gratitude and go find that dream job!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to Use Linkedin.com to it's Fullest!

Linkedin.com has been around for many years and it's popularity has been growing quickly over the last few years, especially among those in the technical community.  Linkedin is more than a networking site, it is a career enhancement tool!  This blog is intended to provide the reader with suggestions on how to create a good Linkedin Profile, build a strong presence on the site and use it to your advantage to further your career.

Your Linkedin ProfileWhen creating your profile, it should read similar to your resume.
>Start with a paragraph or two in the Summary section that outlines your career experience and future career goals.  Include your email address in this section or put it directly next to your name so that people can easily contact you regarding your expertise and also invite you to join their network.
>You will want to provide a work history that includes any employment relevant to your current (or desired) career path. 
>You will also want to bullet point responsibilities with each position listed to show a brief over-view of your most important skills and qualifications. 
>In the Skills section, don't go over-board.  List only the most important of your qualifications here.
>In the Websites section you should list your company site, any personal blogs you may wish to share or other business related sites you may have.  I strongly suggest that you not list your Facebook page or blogs where you discuss issues unrelated to business.  By including personal sites you can open yourself up to unwanted discrimination.  The same goes for your Twitter account, if you're using Twitter to vent about your political views or amuse your friends with how drunk you were Saturday night, this isn't information you want your business network to review.
>You have the option of adding sections to your profile.  The sections for Certifications, Courses, Honors & Rewards and Publications are all beneficial for adding industry related information that will augment your experience.  Unless it is relevant to your career, I recommend not bogging down your profile with what books you're reading or where you've traveled etc.
>DO NOT include a phone number if you are not prepared to field calls from Head Hunters and Sales Professionals!
>Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations!  Once you have started to build your list of connections, ask the people that have worked closely with you to provide recommendations.  Most employers will review your Linkedin Profile prior to interviewing you, it is beneficial to have those references there to reinforce your abilities.
>Be thoughtful.  Always consider who you are asking to join your network or accepting into your network.  Do you know this person?  Have you worked with them?  What are their qualifications?
You can invite anyone to join your network, but if you don't know the person and they flag your invitation as unwanted solicitation, Linkedin will smack your hands and take away your privilege of inviting contacts unless you have their email address.
>Providing recommendations.  You can and should recommend people you have worked with, however only recommend people that you have strong knowledge of their work and professionalism.  You wouldn't want to recommend someone publicly that you have only known for a short time and later find out that they've been fired from previous jobs for their lack of work ethic or other issues.  It is ok to say No when someone requests a recommendation.
>Groups.  There are what seems like an infinite amount of groups on Linkedin for you to join.  When reviewing groups to join consider how many members the group has, what information is being provided by the group and how it relates to your career. 

Utlizing Linkedin when seeking new employment:
>If you are on the market, put together a well thought out message regarding what type of position you are seeking, location, responsibilities and any other expectations that are important to you and send that message to your established contacts on Linkedin. 
>Post your desire to find a new position as a Discussion on the groups that you have joined in your industry.  Don't forget to include your email address.
>Search the multitude of job postings in your industry related groups and also via the "Jobs" tab found at the top of your profile page.
>When you discover a job posting of interest, whether through Linkedin or the other job boards, you can search Linkedin to find a decision maker from that company and try to reach out to them directly to let them know you have interest in their opportunity and would like to discuss how best to apply.  This direct approach doesn't always net a response, but if done professionally might give you an "in" where other applicants fall short.

Update! Update! Update!
>Each time you change jobs or finish an engagement or receive a promotion...make sure you update your profile to reflect that change! 
>If you change employers be sure to update your employer website information in the Website section of your resume.
>If you have experienced a Lay-Off or your engagement has ended... ask some of the people you worked closely with to provide a recommendation for you.

In closing, it's important to check your Linkedin page at least once a week to review any messages you may have received.  Imagine your Linkedin Profile as a live Resume, always being reviewed, considered and actively representing you in your absence.  By keeping up with your messages and updating your profile regularly Linkedin should be one of the most significant tools in your employment process.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to "BREAK INTO" Healthcare Information Technology - Updated 2016

I receive multiple calls and emails monthly from people that are interested in becoming employed in HCIT.  People hear there is a huge need for Healthcare Technology professionals so it would seem finding a position in this industry would be a piece of cake.... but there is a catch-22:
The Healthcare Systems and Consulting Firms are seeking people that have years of experience in the industry and many opportunities require certifications in specific EMR Vendor products to boot. With this in mind, even someone with a substantial IT background in another industry or a Nurse with no informatics background can find it challenging to land a position. Over the years I've read numerous publications claiming to provide the solution to this dilemma, it is my impression that there is no fool-proof method to the madness.

Below are some useful suggestions for breaking into the Healthcare Technology Industry. Initial steps will be listed and then the information will be divided into sections that will give tips that are associated with specific background and education.
Step 1. Create a resume that highlights your Healthcare and/or Technology background and education.
Step 2. Be prepared! Know the type of opportunities you want to consider, the geographical area or areas you will be searching and the salary range you need to support yourself.
Step 3. Don't fly blind! Create a spreadsheet to track your employment processes and be diligent about filling it in. Finding a career can be a full time job. Be ready to spend at least a few hours a day focused on your search.
Step 4. Get connected! Use social networking to connect with industry professionals that might be able to assist you in your search.
Step 5. Get Educated! Beyond your education.... link to industry related web sites and sign up for industry related newsletters (Like HIStalk) to stay on top of the latest information.
Step 6. Use the job boards and search engines like www.jobster.com to assist you in your search.
Step 7. Make sure you're applying to the right places. Most Consulting Firms hire industry professionals with extensive prior experience because their clients demand highly qualified consultants however, some consulting firms are open to hiring professionals with limited experience but tons of potential, and offering training (or certification) in exchange for a 12 to 24 month agreement of employment.  Additionally, most consulting firms do not provide perm placement .....meaning they will not seek people to place permanently with a client as an employee of the client.  On the other hand, Staffing Firms DO provide perm placement to their clients and are more likely to be able to assist people that are just entering into the Healthcare Technology Space.

For Healthcare Professionals lacking Informatics experience... is your current healthcare employer planning to implement a new EMR or upgrading their current system? If so talk to your Supervisor and the internal HIT Supervisor about your desire to enter into a Informatics role. Your current employer is always your best bet. If your current employer is not involved in an implementation seek a Healthcare role at a healthcare facility near you that is. Make your desire to fill a dual role between your healthcare expertise and informatics clear when you are involved in the interview process. Another idea would be to continue with your healthcare career while going to college for Healthcare Informatics Management or to obtain your degree in Computer Science.

For IT Professionals lacking Healthcare/HIT experience.. most healthcare systems have a need for core technology professionals with a background in DBA, Wireless, helpdesk and many other areas. Try to find a position within Healthcare facility that can utilize your previous technology expertise. When you interview, make it clear that you would like to eventually advance your career into working with the EMR software. Sometimes you will find opportunities that need a combination of both EMR software experience and other technical expertise, in these situations if your existing experience is strong enough many healthcare facilities will hire and train for permanent positions.

For College Graduates that have a Healthcare Technology Degree but no work related experience... while a degree in HCIT looks fabulous on a resume, it can be more difficult than the above scenarios when trying to land a career with no prior work experience. Use your school's career-placement team to assist you. Normally most colleges will have a career-placement department that partners with area companies that are eager to hire recent graduates. Next focus your efforts on all the hospitals within a sensible commute distance from your home. Scour their web site career section for any entry level position that will match your educational background. Follow up by looking on Linkedin for the person that might be the manager of that position and message them with your interest and inquire if they have any suggestions on how you can land an interview. If you are having challenges finding the ideal position, settling for second best until you gain valuable experience is never a bad idea.

The option of working directly for an EMR vendor... sometimes the EMR Vendors will hire people with any of the above qualifications. The Top EMR Vendors are Epic and Cerner followed by the rest (Meditech, McKesson, NextGen, Allscripts, etc). Most EMR Vendor companies will require relocation to the city that houses their corporate offices. (Ex:  Epic Verona, WI and Cerner...Kansas City)
While Epic and Cerner may be considered a dream space for most HCIT Professionals due to the strength they have in the market, most vendors have strong non-compete clauses in their employment contracts. If you chose to work for a large EMR vendor you will gain invaluable experience but if you decide to leave their employment you may find yourself unable to work with their product or at their clients for 12 - 24 mos.  One should always pay attention to the fine print when signing an employment contract.
Hopefully this information will help you in your journey into the Healthcare Technology Industry.

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