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Five Qualities and Skill Sets that Will Boost Your Chances of Getting the Right Health Care Job

  • Article by:Health Career Center
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Looking for a job in health care? You’ve come to the right place.

Health care is experiencing explosive job growth—an increase of 53 percent from 2014 to 2015. Hospitals especially are looking for fresh talent and skilled workers as they expand their reach and adjust to the new demands of our transforming health care system. Healthcareercenter.com has seen a huge increase in job listings, many with titles and descriptions that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

But the growing number of jobs in health care doesn’t mean that getting a job in this field is easy. Health care offers rewarding, exciting career options, but landing the right job still takes time, persistence and—most of all--passion. Healthcareercenter.com talked to HR experts to get a view of what it takes to secure the right healthcare job today. If your resume and cover letter demonstrate these five qualities, you might find your application at the top of the pile—even if you don’t have direct health care experience:

1. Flexibility and curiosity: Health care is going through a period of immense transformation. Change is exciting, invigorating, but it takes a certain type of individual to thrive in this environment. Organizations are looking for people who are willing to learn new skills and try new approaches that will lead to better outcomes for patients and move the organization in a positive direction.

 “You hear a lot about flexibility, individuals who are agile and not set in their ways,” says Amy Goble, Vice President of Health Career Center. Curiosity is also important, she adds. “You want individuals who want to continue to learn and grow and build their own capacity not just in the hierarchical sense of ‘I want that next job’ but ‘how can I grow in breadth and depth of knowledge to be a better contributor to this organization.’”

2. People skills: There’s a growing emphasis on the patient experience and on customer service in health care. Increasingly, healthcare staff members often work in teams, which requires the ability to cooperate and collaborate. Nearly every job in healthcare requires some level of people skills.

As a result, customer service or team work experience or training can give your resume an extra boost. Instead of burying your part-time job in retail or your volunteer committee work, highlight the skills you learned that translate over to patient care and teamwork.

In fact, managers in some departments may place people skills over direct health care experience. For example, the new health care job of community health worker depends more on the ability to work with others and cultural understanding of the target population than it does on prior work in health care. As Jennifer Snow, Director of Accountable Communities at Greenville Health System says, almost anyone can fit into the community health worker model as long as they have an interest in understanding people’s needs and helping connect them to resources. Most organizations offer the training and certification to translate that interest into on-the-job skills.

3. Tech skills: While people skills are more important than ever, so are tech skills. The capabilities of electronic health record (EHR) systems, the emphasis on clinical integration, plus the new demands for quality and outcomes reporting mean that hospital staff in almost every position will need to use technology to some extent. People who have both clinical and technology skills are especially in demand, as evidenced by emerging jobs such as those that combine nursing and information technology. To show you have the foundation and the willingness to use technology to improve patient care or efficiency, play up your comfort with all manner of digital tools, from smartphones to data processing and your readiness to learn and innovate to solve problems.

4. Number crunching: An increasing number of healthcare roles require some level of comfort with data analytics, which help drive everyday decisions as well as big picture planning. Even if you’re not a number cruncher, the ability to interpret and use data will help you qualify for many healthcare jobs, especially those that involve management and decision making. For example, jobs in population health involve looking at community data to determine and anticipate health needs in different groups of people and figure out how to distribute resources to meet those needs most effectively and efficiently. Performance improvement activities—which are essential to improving the quality of care—also depend on data analysis.

5. Passion: HR reps agree that passion—a true desire to make a difference in the lives of people—is the key factor for all health care jobs. Even if a person has all the other qualifications, it’s passion that clinches the job. “You might be hearing that it’s a job seekers market in healthcare,” says Tracy Braman, VP of Talent at Lakeland Health in southwest Michigan. “But we’re not going to hire if we don’t see that passion for caring for patients.” She suggests that job seekers use their cover letter to articulate your passion for health care and helping. “Your resume shows the facts. Use your cover letter to sell and articulate your passion,” she advises.