Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to Get to the Next Level in Health Information Management

So, are you ready for your next level role within Health Information Management (HIM)?

What is your next level? As noted on the AHIMA Engaged site, the HIM field is open to professionals at different education and credential levels. What can you do to prepare for a career in the HIM world? It is never too early to start gaining experience working with medical records and electronic health records in any capacity. What does this mean? As a student, you are in high demand for part time positions with duties ranging from filing to scanning and data entry. These simple tasks can get you into a clinical setting in preparation for possible internships and later full time jobs. The students that are working full time in a clinical setting can go the extra mile by getting involved in HIM projects, pitching best practices or joining a committee at work that would improve IT skills.

Gaining experience in any capacity distinguishes you from your peers. It shows your current employer that you are invested in the process and it tells prospective employers you are forward thinking and will be a great asset to their team. Try some of the following strategies to help you stand out:

  • Network: The benefits of networking are immeasurable. You can contact a WGU Career Specialist to discuss networking strategies. 
  • Get Creative: Don’t be afraid to step out and use your creativity to help others on your team. 
  • Demonstrate Leadership: Show your leadership skills by creating guidelines regarding your job functions or a job aide describing how to complete a difficult function. 
  • Identify Areas for Improvement: Look around your department and determine what processes you can improve. 

The fun really begins when you find an opening for a position of interest! Get prepared by researching the company and ensure that your resume is updated. Create a unique cover letter for the position. WGU Career & Professional Development has resources to help you get started. Be comfortable with the wording; it should sound like your own words and not a template. Your resume should state your accomplishments and you should be prepared to address and elaborate on these accomplishments in an interview. Make sure to bring your manuals and other self-created materials to your interview as you will need to use them to elaborate. After all, this should be the best sales pitch for the job you want!

Last but not least, answer questions honestly and demonstrate how your skills can benefit the company you want to work for. Don’t just dress the part; remember you are there to have a conversation with your prospective employer. Good luck students!

About the Author

Sandra Goddard is an Area Supervisor at MRO Corp and a Health Informatics graduate of WGU. In her previous position with a behavioral health organization, there were limited opportunities for growth so she decided to gain experience by participating on various committees related to IT projects, coding implementation and training. She utilized her IT skills and additional knowledge gained through her coursework to simplify processes and train her colleagues. After ten years with the behavioral health organization and graduation on the horizon, Sandra began applying for management positions. She produced training manuals to demonstrate how her experience would be an asset for new staff training in both HIPAA and ROI procedures. Her hard work and job search preparation paid off as she was offered the Area Supervisor position for MRO Corp. MRO Corp is a vendor and the position allows for a multitude of EMR experience and networking. As an Area Supervisor, she is constantly learning best practices at different sites. As the saying goes “Hard work brings great rewards” and this is true in the HIM field.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Playing Hard Ball with Soft Skills

Today’s job market continues to be highly competitive. Most employers are looking for employees who bring a solid education and proven job performance. Beyond the specific job skills required to do the role, employers also want to know what kind of person are you. Are you a team player? How do you treat your customers? Do you take initiative?

While your specific job skills and certifications may get you noticed, your soft skills can tip the scales in an interview. Hiring managers are looking at leadership qualities, attitudes, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and other personal attributes that are essential to career success. These interpersonal skills are becoming more and more in demand when employers are assessing applicants to determine if they are a right fit for the job.

Some specific areas to keep in mind as you’re assessing and promoting your own brand are:

  • Accountability
  • Problem Solving
  • Time Management 
  • Collaboration
  • Flexibility
  • Communication
  • Active Listening
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Relationship Building

This is just a small sample that can be found in job descriptions. Take time to assess your skill sets and discover the unique strengths and value you bring to an employer. This way you will be prepared to discuss them with employers. Don’t forget to incorporate these skills into your resume by crafting bullet points that showcase accomplishments you have achieved through your soft skills. Soft skills also play an important role in your LinkedIn Profile and Skills sections, and even during interviews when asked, “Tell me about yourself.”

We’re eager to help you explore other ways to use your soft skills during your job search. We have robust professional development resources that can help you to increase your interpersonal effectiveness, and workplace productivity.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Using a School District's Website to Your Advantage

As you begin a job search, it is tempting to follow the “one resume fits all” approach because it is easier and saves time when you have a variety of jobs to apply for. However, mass producing your resume and sending it to every school within an hour’s drive is definitely not the way to go. The best approach to apply for any job is to individualize your resume and cover letter for each position within a school or district.  Once you have decided what schools you want to apply to, the next step is to visit the school or district website before completing your application documents. It contains information you can use to your advantage as you prepare to start your job search. The following three tips will help you analyze and extract valuable information from a school’s website that you can use to increase your interview chances.

  1. Data –Most schools will include the previous year’s performance data on their website. As an applicant, you should look for the grade issued by the state, along with the current results of the state standardized testing. If it’s not listed on the website, you can find this information on your state’s Department of Education website. Select an area where the school did well (perhaps their reading scores increased) and an area of deficit (maybe their mathematics scores dropped) and incorporate that data into your cover letter. Be sure to compliment the school on what they have done well and then demonstrate how hiring YOU can help them overcome their current challenges and achieve success for next year. 
  2. School Improvement or Mission Statements – Every school will have a mission statement or school improvement plan on their website which drives next year’s performance goals. Investigate these goals and incorporate them into your resume and cover letter. If possible include performance metrics in your documents to show your experiences or successes in these areas. A school will find great value in you as an applicant if you can demonstrate student performance growth in their areas of need.
  3. Networking – Often times it is difficult for teachers to network within a school unless they have the benefit of substitute teaching at that school. One alternative is to find the “Staff Directory” on the website and isolate other faculty members who can assist you. Look for the “Department Chairperson”, “Curriculum Leader” or “Team Lead” for the grade/subject you want to teach. These team leads are the next best thing to meeting with the principal. They know their departmental needs, budgets and open faculty positions. Contact them via e-mail or phone and request to schedule a “job shadow” day or an after school meeting. Use this time to ask them questions about the school, any teacher questions you have and if they think there is anticipated growth in their departments. Leave a copy of your resume with them and express your interest in future openings. Be sure to follow up with a thank you note within 24 hours. If you’ve made a positive impression and a position opens up, the lead can approach the principal with your name and contact information. Remember, you will need to be fingerprint cleared to job shadow a teacher during the day. If you don’t have clearance, set up an after school meeting instead.

Once you have used the above tips and created your resume and cover letter, don’t forget to send it to WGU Career & Professional Development for review.  We’re happy to provide suggestions and feedback for making your application documents the best they can be.  Visit www.wgu.edu/careerservices to schedule an appointment with one of our Career & Professional Development Specialists.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

4 Professional Development Resources Every WGU IT Student & Alumni Should Know

The pace of change in Information Technology is faster than it has ever been and professional development can help you keep current with emerging standards. Below are four resources for Information Technology professionals to stay up-to-date and engaged.  These informative sites can enhance your knowledge and the skills needed to ensure continued career success.

  1. Dice - Dice is the leading career site for technology and engineering professionals. In addition to the over 82,000 tech jobs posted on Dice, Dice provides tech news, insights, advice, and talent communities. Dice Talent Communities bring together like-minded techs in specific fields and serve a place to follow industry news, access focused job postings, and learn best practices and industry trends.
  2. IT Communities - As an IT professional in the digital age, it is important to tap into and engage with resourceful IT communities. There are numerous communities to choose from and we've listed just a few that might be worth checking out: Bytes IT Community, CIO, Mashable, Github, IT Managers Inbox, ReadWrite, Reddit Technology, TechRepublic, Spiceworks, and Stack Overflow.
  3. LinkedIn - LinkedIn includes thousands of IT-related groups covering networking, applications, hardware, and security. Potential groups to consider joining include: WGU Students and Alumni Official Group, Chief Information Officer (CIO) Network, Cloud Security Alliance, Desktop Support Professionals, The Enterprise Architecture Network, and IT Specialist Group. 
  4. SmartBrief - SmartBrief delivers free, targeted business news and information by industry directly to your inbox. You can subscribe to as many "briefs" as you'd like. Each email brief contains headlines and news relevant to the topic of your choosing. SmartBrief can help keep your finger on the pulse of everything technology. Smart Brief IT subscriptions include: News for IT industry professionals, News for software and services professionals, and Education insights and advances in technology.

Our professional staff is dedicated to your success! Let us help you achieve your career goals. Please contact WGU Career & Professional Development.