Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Resume Recipe - How to Cook Up a Winner!

If you cook, you know the importance of following a recipe in order to create a scrumptious meal. In fact, there are several similarities between good cooking and resume writing. Let’s look at a few:

Preparation: Quality ingredients are the building blocks of great cooking. You want to start with the best and freshest you can find. The same can be said for resumes. Research targeted job descriptions within your field of interest to obtain the language and keywords you can use for the ingredients throughout your resume. Think of each job description as a recipe in which the employer is telling you what they are looking for. Key words, pulled from the specific job descriptions, will help you make your resume more appetizing to an employer.

Assembly: Like any successful dish, layering flavors gives the meal a deeper and richer experience. Resumes should be assembled so that the most valuable information is seen first. The Summary of Qualifications should be right after your name and contact information. This is your pitch to the reader explaining how you are qualified for this position.  Showing a robust summary of your best qualities and how they make you a good fit is what will move your resume from dull to delicious! Next, think about what makes you a great candidate for the position. Look to the job description for further guidance. What seems important to the employer? Lead with your strengths and position the following sections accordingly: specialized competencies (technology, business acumen, certifications, etc.), relevant professional experience and education. This layering format prioritizes the most important features so the employer sees them first and is motivated to learn more about you. To assist in assembling your resume, utilize the resume resources available on the WGU Career & Professional Development website including a brief Resumes 101 webinar, a resume builder, and a resume library with industry specific resume samples.

Let it bake. The raw ingredients and the assembly of the dish are only part of a chef’s job. Those ingredients and flavors need to meld into the delicious creation it was meant to be. Your resume is now ready to cook! You have done your research, you put the layers together and filled them in with just the right keywords, bullet points and accomplishments. Now, it all needs to marinate to create the document that results in an interview. One great way to do this, so that it doesn’t get chopped, is to send it to WGU Career & Professional Development for a review. Look to us as your test kitchen. We’re hungry to help you!

Serve it up! After you have created your resume and had it reviewed by our staff, it’s time to dish it up for your audience to consume! There are as many job boards online as there are spices to choose from. Consider using the WGU Students & Graduates Job Board in addition to other popular job boards for your job search needs.

We wish you luck in your job search and remember, we’ll always have a table ready for you to explore and discuss a full menu of other services. Please visit us often to satisfy your career cravings. Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Employer Research

Research. If you are in the market for a job or thinking about your next step, research is a vital part of making a positive impression on a potential employer. You’ve worked hard to complete your degree so now it’s time to make sure you are using every tool available to get the job or promotion that you are hoping for. Taking time to research employers that you are interested in is an essential component to a successful job search. It might seem a bit intimidating at first because it’s sometimes hard to know where to start and there’s a lot of information out there but that’s where WGU Career and Professional Development comes in. We have many excellent resources designed to help you get started in this process.

The first step is to identify what matters to you. This is an important and often overlooked step. You have to have a focus in order to reach your goal. To get started in this process make sure you review our self-assessment and industry research tools.

Next, think about what you value in an organization. Are you open to re-location? Are you interested in a large company or a small company? Is professional development important to you? These are just a few of the things you can consider as your begin researching companies.

Once you have set a foundation, you can narrow the field to 5 - 10 companies that you think would be a good fit and then begin your research. The best place to start your research is with the company’s website and LinkedIn page. You can look for the Mission Statement or the About Us section to get some of the basic information, but don’t stop there. WGU Career & Professional Development has a wealth of information on a wide range of companies including the latest industry trends.

For specific information on companies, check out our Employer Research Resources including CareerBeam (which lists company overviews, key information and business intelligence for 60M+ organizations) and Hoovers (a database with proprietary information on more than 40,000 public and non-public companies and 225,000 key executives).  Remember, the more you know about the company the more targeted your resume and cover letter will be and the more prepared you will be during an interview. Doing your research lets an employer know that you are really interested in them and not just “a job”, increasing your chances of being hired.

WGU Career & Professional Development is happy to assist you in researching employers, defining a job search plan, or answering any additional career questions you may have.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Beyond Job Boards: 6 Effective Job Search Stategies

With thousands of job boards available online today, it can be easy to limit your job search to only applying to jobs found online. However, the most effective job search incorporates a variety of strategies and time spent applying to positions found online should only be a small portion of your search. For increased job search success, consider incorporating these strategies into your job search.

1. Know Thy Self. To plan an effective job search it is time well spent to assess what you love, identifying your values, interests, personality, and passions. You’ll also want to take inventory of what you are good at, recognizing skills, abilities, strengths, and accomplishments. Finally, make sure to clarify your financial needs and lifestyle goals and ensure that occupations and industries of interest meet those goals through market research. When you know yourself and what you bring to a job you’ll be able to choose jobs that are good matches for you – which is a big WIN for you and the employer!

2. Target Your Job Search. Your job search will be more successful with a targeted approach instead of just “applying for anything”.
By following this targeted approach, your process will be more focused, networking becomes easier, and you will be more convincing in your interactions with hiring managers.

3. Develop Marketing Materials. As you are job searching, you want to create a brand, as you “sell yourself” to companies. You can market yourself effectively through a host of tools including your info-mercial, resumes and cover letters, portfolios, social media profiles, and eventually during your interview. WGU Career & Professional Development is here to help you craft and fine tune your marketing materials!

4. Network. Networking often sounds a lot scarier than it is. Networking is simply exchanging information with individuals to enhance your career and job search. 
  • Identify your network including family, friends, former colleagues, neighbors and anyone who has connections or is a connection that relates back to your job search goals. Identify individuals who work for the companies you would like to work for and seek introductions to current and former employees so you can do research on the best way to get hired.
  • Utilize LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social media site designed specifically for networking and is an essential tool to incorporate into your job search. Also, by choosing WGU, you are now part of an international network of WGU students and alumni. Make sure to join the Western Governors University Student and Alumni group on LinkedIn and to check out the careers of fellow WGU Night Owls.  
  • Join professional groups and associations. Make time to attend industry events, trainings and other in-person opportunities to meet like-minded professionals.
  • Conduct informational interviews. An informational interview is a meeting in which a job seeker asks for career and industry advice from an individual who is working in an occupation or industry of interest.  The job seeker uses the interview to gather information on the field, to find employment leads, and expand their professional network. The key to remember is that during the informational interview, you are NOT asking for a job, but gathering information.
5. Manage Your Job Search. Manage your search by keeping track of the jobs you have applied for and the correspondence you have had with an employer.  Consider creating a folder in your email account for job searching, with emails you send and receive. You can also create a folder on your desktop to save job descriptions, cover letters, and resumes.  Creating an excel spreadsheet can be a great way to keep track of the jobs you have applied to and the interactions you have had relating to different positions.

6. Follow- up. 
  • Keep track of dates that you submitted applications and if possible, follow-up on the application with a phone call or email one to two weeks later.
  • Utilize LinkedIn to identify hiring managers and recruiters. Invite them to connect and review your profile, reiterating your interest in the position to which you applied.
  • Say thank you to any individuals who provide information and assistance along the way whether it’s an employer, friend, or networking contact.
  • Keep you network updated on your progress. If you are contacted for an interview because a connection passed along your resume to the hiring manager, provide them with an update and definitely thank them for their efforts!
For additional individualized support in developing a strategic job search plan, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development! We look forward to working with you.

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.