Ready for my rant?
Over the past year or two, I've noticed an increase in physician groups engaging in negative campaigning directed toward NPs. Could it have always been present but I just hadn't noticed? Or is the negativity a reaction to the numerous bills that have been introduced in several states to remove barriers and allow fully independent NP practice? The conspiracy theorist in me suspects the latter.
Whatever the reason, I am now aware. I have also detected some common themes that have emerged often enough that I have to believe they have to be carefully crafted "talking points."
They go something like this:
The horror story. A case that is so uncommon and rare will be presented to illustrate that even the most common of illnesses can't possibly be managed without the skill of an MD. "I just saw a patient in clinic last week who had an earache and it actually turned out to be an ancient medieval disease that hasn't been seen in a century! Thank goodness I saw them and not the NP!" The purpose of this is to scare the consumer into believing they are only one step away from a medical disaster at any given time and only a physician can save them.
Go team go! After decades, MDs have apparently just discovered the "team." Of course, by team they don't mean themselves, they just mean YOU. NPs need to be in teams that are led by physicians. "We cannot have patient-centered care unless physicians are part of the team!" Forgive me if I am a tad cynical when I hear this claim. I mean, what's been stopping them? They have essentially been running the healthcare show for years and until now haven't been very interested in true team care.
Do no harm. Organized medicine has cleverly repurposed this classic phrase and is now using it to defend the status quo. "Gosh, we wouldn't want to make any changes until we can be SURE that this will solve all our healthcare access problems and not fragment care any further." We are meant to believe that fragmentation of care really only occurs when patients are seen by NPs. Fragmentation is perfectly acceptable when docs own the urgent care clinics (and hire NPs and PAs to staff them).
Is it just me or are the organized medicine groups starting to sound like the "providers of no"?
"No problems with the current system"
"No need to change"
It's a shame a few vocal physicians are sending such a negative message.
I usually conduct a brief survey when I speak to groups
about job searching. I ask participants to rank a list of topics to indicate
where they feel they need the most assistance. The choices are: resumes, cover
letters, finding job openings, negotiating and interviewing. Across the board
the recipients choose negotiating to discuss. This holds true whether I query
new grads or seasoned clinicians.
The results are not so surprising when you consider that the
market has been improving for both our professions. A few years ago it was a
challenge to find a job, much less get an actual job offer. Now that jobs are
relatively easy to land, we now have the luxury of focusing more on our
"Nobody likes to talk about money, but everyone wants to be
paid," a former colleague of mine used to say. As a profession the idea of
negotiating tends to make us a bit squeamish. Publicly we are seen as healers,
and the implication is that we shouldn't really be talking about money. However,
privately we are like everyone else who has a mortgage and bills to pay.
Our backgrounds and education don't do much to prepare us
for negotiation either. If you listen to the so-called "experts" you will be lead
to believe all negotiations are a contentious back and forth horse-trading type
affair. You know, an endless cycle of smoky backroom deals where they make an offer,
you counter offer, then they counter your counter, and continue ad nauseum. No
wonder most of us suffer from "negotia-phobia"!
Out of curiosity I attended a breakout session on negotiating
at a national conference. The level of anxiety in the room was palpable as
participants we treated to a summary of "tactics." It was there that I had an
epiphany. This wasn't a talk on conducting negotiations, it was a lecture on
how to make demands!
I realized that an essential key concept was missing.
Before you can negotiate, you must first make the sale. It's
only after making the sale that you can begin to have a conversation of the
terms of the deal.
So if you want to have a less stressful negotiation, then
study sales. You will learn a sale does not start with a price. It starts with both
parties coming to an agreement on the need for the product. Think about the
last time you made a large purchase. There were likely many features and
benefits you didn't even know you needed until the sales person pointed them
out. By then, you were happy to pay the asking price.
Dear Career Coach:
I am an experienced PA
and was reading your resume tips for NPs. However, I'm wondering about your
guidance on listing clinical rotations. You mentioned listing clinical rotations
is only a good idea if you are a new grad NP. Do you think the same applies for
PAs who have completed rotations in surgery and other procedural specialties?
(ER, general, surgical, derm/plastics, etc.)
To answer this question you should ask yourself:
- Will it confuse the reader as to my status? i.e.,
new grad vs. experienced
- Is the experience pertinent?
- Does it make me more competitive?
Generally, whether you are an NP or PA, if you have obtained
your first position it's time to retire the student rotations section from your
resume. One of the reasons is to eliminate confusion for the prospective
employer. It is one way of saying "I am no longer a new graduate - I am a
practicing clinician with actual work experience."
If you are a new graduate, your student rotation section is the
most effective method to demonstrate
to the employer that you possess the pertinent skills. What you did as a
student is really the only valid experience you have in the advanced practice
role. And because the job opening is for an advanced practice clinician (not an
RN or EMT) this section becomes crucial.
Many new grads mistakenly believe their RN or other
healthcare experience is going to be more valuable than it really is and they
will devote too much space on their resume to their previous non NP/PA jobs.
It's OK to briefly include your previous healthcare
positions on your resume but you are far better off putting more emphasis on outlining
your student clinical rotations. Why? Because your RN or EMT skills aren't
going to give you much of an advantage if your competition is experienced NPs
and PAs. And quite frankly, if an employer wishes to know more about your jobs
prior to school they will ask you in the interview.
In your example of seeking specialty practice, I believe
that your student rotation experience is pertinent and would make you more
competitive. Since specialty rotations can vary from student to student the
prospective employer would have no idea that you had spent time in the related
rotation. Speaking of pertinent, I would only include the rotation(s) that
applies to the job you are seeking or you risk violating the above
To avoid confusion of your status, I would note your student
experience in a separate section from your work experience and clearly label
the section "related experience." Keep it brief, include information such as
the number of hours, the types of cases and identify your responsibilities and
Your cover letter is also another avenue for you to expand
on the past experiences you had as a student.
During the course of interviewing for a new job you are sure
to be asked for the reason you are leaving your current job. How you answer
this question is important. Let me guide you through a little exercise to
assist you in formulating your response.
First, I would like you to make a list all the reasons you
want to leave your current position. Maybe it's the work atmosphere or maybe
your have a boss who is a micromanager. Or perhaps the nurses are hard to get
along with and making your workday miserable. Politics - there are always
It could be your work schedule you dislike, such as the
hours or days you are working. And then there are the patients - too few or too
demanding - it's usually one or the other. Or pay, could be that you feel that
you are not being paid what you are worth and you don't see a raise anywhere in
Great, now that you have the negatives out of your system
please tear up that list and never speak of it again.
Instead, I want you to replace the list with all the reasons
you want a new position. And this list is going to focus on all the positives
of a job change. In this list you will reframe being "sick of your current
dysfunctional co-workers" to "seeking new people and new challenges." You
desire "opportunities for growth" and you have "achieved the maximum potential growth
at your current job."
Of course you will
remark on how much you have learned, and how you will use that knowledge in
your next position. Your dissatisfaction with your pay should be put on the
backburner until you are actually negotiating an offer and not brought up as a
reason for leaving your current job. I am presuming that you did enough
homework prior to the interview to be assured that the pay range for the new
job meets your expectations. If you don't already know the pay they are
offering then shame on you!
My point with all this is that you need to project a
positive attitude during your interview. Find a way to put a positive spin on
your experiences. Nobody wants to hire someone who is a complainer or who is
negative. Employers put a great deal of weight and importance on behavior. How
you act during an interview is a proxy of how you might act with your
colleagues, and more importantly, how you might act with a patient.
Oh, and if you have been taking your work complaints to your
social media page you might want to do some turbo deleting.
For years I have counseled new graduates to hold off on
applying for jobs not only until they had graduated, but ideally until they had
a date scheduled to take their boards. I based my advice on feedback from
In many states, passing the boards would legally permit new
grad NPs to practice, however they could not be credentialed by insurers until
they were licensed. This would present a problem for employers who could not
afford to be paying a clinician who was unable to generate any revenue.
For the last few years there have also been a large number
of applicants for each job. This served as a disincentive to hire someone who
had not yet even graduated. I mean, why wait for 2-3 months for a practitioner
when there are so many other applicants who are available to start in a week or
I also used to warn new grads not to expect to land a primary
care job right out of school. Primary care is a highly desired practice site
and historically has very low turnover. Be realistic, I would tell them, and
consider a specialty.
Well, I would like to announce a major change for new grads
or soon to be grads. Due to a market shift most employers are now willing to
entertain your applications earlier!
I am officially revising my previous advice. If you are
graduating in May you can now begin applying as early as March. I don't know
that I would send out applications any earlier than March though. Don't worry
-- if you prefer to wait that's OK too. It won't hurt your prospects. The last
few weeks of the program are usually fairly stressful and adding a job search
into the mix might not be for everyone.
The other change for new grads is that it is no longer
unrealistic to pursue a primary care position. As you probably all know the
demand for primary care providers has risen and many new positions have opened.
And many of these new primary care jobs are new grad friendly too.
Great news for 2014 graduates, this year is shaping up to be
a good year for you.
This week I am finishing up with the last half of my list of
the 12 reasons why your resume may have been rejected.
6. Too generic. You submitted a one-size-fits-all resume.
Job seekers often fall into the trap of thinking that they only need to create
ONE resume. In today's job market employers want to see resumes that are tailored
to each position. Customizing your resume shows an employer that you are
interested in that specific position and that you cared enough to take a few
minutes to craft a resume that fits. This is one of the reasons why I don't
advocate hiring someone to create your resume for you. One resume simply cannot
meet the requirements of every position.
5. The job skills you listed sound suspiciously like the
definition of an NP or PA. I read a lot of resumes and for some reason in the
majority of them the job seeker describes their work experience with some
version of this: "Performs physicals, interprets labs, prescribing and patient
education" or "manage acute and chronic conditions." To which I say, "No
4. Mind the gaps! Dates have to be sequential. You must
explain any gaps in your employment that are longer than a month. Unaccounted
for time in your resume is a huge red flag. If you were out of work then
acknowledge the fact with a brief entry so that you don't look like you are
hiding anything. There are lots of legitimate reasons that you may have been
unemployed but an employer just sees the gaps. If you were out on maternity
leave, caring for a family member, or the last clinic you worked at went broke
and laid you off then just say it!
3. "TLTR" Do you know what that means? "Too long to read."
Resumes that are more than 2 pages tend to get ignored. Recruiters and hiring
managers skim when reviewing a resume. This means that you better have your
most important info on the top of the first page or it may not be seen. And the
more that you can have on the first page the better because the reader may
never get to the 2nd and 3rd pages.
2. Show your credentials. Believe it or not job seekers
often forget to include their licenses and certifications. NPs are particularly
prone to omitting their nursing license on a resume. This is critical, because
the first reviewer may actually be a computer program, and if you leave off
credentials you may appear not to meet the requirements of the job.
1. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Get to the point. Resumes that
contain too much irrelevant information, such as non-pertinent, non-medical
jobs or skills, obscure the very point you wished to make. Employers are only
interested in reading what qualifies you for their position. Remember, the
purpose of the resume is to market yourself and get you an interview. Irrelevant
information does not accomplish that goal.
Editor's note: Click
here to check out reasons 12-7.
Hey, it's not the Twelve Days of Christmas, but to get into
the spirit of the season I will share with you twelve reasons that can cause
your resume to be rejected (and employers will never tell you!).
12. You live too far away. The out of state address and
phone number on your resume have employers concerned that your relocation might
turn into their headache. They worry that you won't be able to sell your home,
your family might talk you out of moving and finally that because you don't
have ties to the community you won't stick around.
11. Your resume showed up by snail mail or fax. I know it's
almost 2014, but there are still a few applicants out there that insist on
submitting a resume the old fashioned way. Hard copies end up in the trash or
in a pile on a desk. It's a digital world and employers are a little frightened
by job seekers that aren't comfortable using technology.
10. Your resume is over formatted. You used so many tabs,
tables or special effects and formatting doo-dads that when you uploaded or cut
and pasted your resume into the employers online application system it became a
garbled mess and totally unreadable.
9. You applied for
every job that was posted and therefore you now have multiple applications in
the system. This can be a red flag for employers. Applying for anything and
everything makes you look either desperate or like you really aren't sure what it
is you want.
8. Missing dates.
Contrary to what you may have heard you need to include the date of your graduation
and for each place of employment. When
applicants omit dates it makes an employer think the job seeker may be trying
to hide something. In fact, many employers have their applicant tracking
systems set up to automatically exclude applications with missing dates.
7. You decided to go with a functional format rather than
chronological. I know some job seekers do this because they believe by putting
a bunch of the keywords from the job description in to a "skills" section it is
more likely to trigger a match. The trouble with this strategy is that while it
may indeed get the computer to flag you as a match it doesn't do so well with a
human reviewer. Detaching your skills from the setting where you performed them
just creates confusion. It's important for an employer to know where and when
you last used these skills. Oh, and it's really obvious to a "live" person that
you were trying to game the system by loading up the keywords.
Stayed tuned! I will finish the list in my next blog.
Historically, employers often have had some confusion when
it comes to our professions. I'm sure you have all become quite accustomed to
the question "What is the difference between a PA and an NP?" And even more
likely, you are quite well versed in explaining the differences.
Usually we don't mind giving the contrast and comparison
speech but on occasion we do get a little testy when we see the group we belong
to being excluded from a job posting. Especially when we know it is a job we
can do just as well as the other group can. As healthcare has evolved, we have
become more interchangeable, and for the majority of positions, one group is
just as fully capable and qualified to do the job as the other group.
Sometimes when we see a job opening but note that our
discipline is excluded we take it upon ourselves to "educate" the employer and
actively urge them to consider hiring one of our group. I tend to discourage
this if you are a job seeker because you end up sounding pushy and preachy. As
a recruiter I could offer this sort of advice all the time - and get away with
it. But then my relationship to the employer was different and I could play the
role of the "wise advisor".
I also routinely advise my candidates not to apply for jobs
of the other profession. For example, if the ad said they wanted a PA, then an
NP should not apply. I still stand behind that statement because generally
speaking it's not going to work out in your favor for the same reasons I mentioned
above. Also because employers are gradually getting more savvy about NPs vs PAs
and don't tend to mix us up quite as much anymore.
But if you are an NP there is an exception to my rule and it
just may open up a batch of undiscovered opportunities for you. An employer's
confusion might just be the key to your next job.
I'm talking about clinical nurse specialist CNS positions.
It seems that many employers don't really understand the difference between CNS
and NP. I get it. Clinical Nurse Specialist could innocently be confused with
Advanced Practice Nurse - or Advanced Practice Clinician. Throw the word
"nurse" or "clinician" into any title and voila! Easy mistake.
So NPs, don't overlook the CNS openings. It might be well
worth your time to call and check it out. Chances are, employers will welcome
your application. Odds are that you are what they were looking for all
I read a lot of resume advice. I like to keep up with what
others are telling you to do.
I realized even when I was a new graduate NP that much of
the resume guidance I was receiving was not particularly helpful. I could sense
that it wasn't geared toward the medical professions, much less applicable to a
Even the placement services at universities and colleges
seemed to be a bit clueless when it came to resumes for our professions. This
hasn't changed much. In fact it might be worse now that the online job boards
are getting into the act and have started handing out resume and job search
I can place much of what I read into three categories:
- Ok advice
- Questionable new and trendy advice
- Sad and outdated information
The hardest part for you as an NP or PA is figuring out
which is which. Let me help you.
The majority of the new and trendy advice is not going to
fly in our professions. For instance, the latest recommendation I saw was for
something they call the "talking resume". Near as I could tell, it is an
audible version of your resume. I also read that you should include a photo of
yourself on the back of your resume - exactly how this would work in a resume that
is submitted in electronic format is rather sketchy. But at any rate both of
these tactics should be avoided.
What you as a PA or NP job seeker should understand is that
this type of advice is geared towards people seeking positions in new and
trendy industries such as web development, advertising and some innovative new
business models and it won't adapt well to healthcare. No matter how cutting
edge we believe ourselves to be, you will find it generally isn't going to go
over well if you step that far out of the box with your job applications.
When it comes to outdated info you will read well-meaning advice
about paper choices (hello! 2001 is calling and wants its snail mail resume
Alternate formats seem to be popular topics as well. In our
profession we strongly prefer the chronological format over the functional
format. If you want to impress us please, please don't give us a resume with
your skills in a separate section that is detached from the position where you
performed said skills.
And speaking of outdated, if you're instructed to begin your
resume with an "objective" you should be aware that this advice is soooo 5
years ago. And furthermore, there is no longer any reason to end with
"references upon request". Duh.
I am also still seeing recommendations for those of you over
40 to omit graduation dates from your education because it may give away your
age. BAD ADVICE. Leaving off ANY dates can be a red flag and may disqualify
I don't know about you, but there isn't a day that goes by
when I don't have some sort of umm....interesting
experience at work. I understand how awfully tempting it is to jump on Facebook
or Twitter and share the events of my day with all 100+ or so of my closest
"friends". It's so very rewarding to watch a post collect "likes" and snarky
remarks, isn't it?
Periodically I feel the need to remind all of you to use
caution when posting on social media. I'm sure you have all heard the warnings
about how employers are Googling applicants to see what they have been up to
online, but did you know that what you post might get you into some hot water
(and by hot water I mean fired) with your current employer?
Posting a heartwarming or funny story about a patient might
seem harmless enough but all it takes is for someone to recognize either
themselves or someone they know in your post and BINGO! You have just violated patient
confidentiality. Buh-bye. Oh, and if losing your job isn't bad enough, it's
possible for you to be sued, too.
Ok, so that covers social media, but there are other ways
you to get in trouble on the internet too. Beware the "most interesting
patient" submissions. Often popular blogs or websites that cater to health
professionals will ask you to submit a case study or encounter as part of a
contest or promotion. Or maybe you are responding to a case study with an
example of your own. Sounds innocent doesn't it? Actually, the risk of "outing"
a particular patient in this instance might be even greater since your
colleagues and/or employer might be also visiting the same website.
These contests and forums are great learning experiences,
but they make the recruiter in me a little nervous and I advise you to exercise
some caution if you decide to contribute. Anytime you are relating a story
about a current or former patient you should alter or change enough of the
details and identifying characteristics to be sure that no one will recognize
the identity of your patient.
And don't be lulled into thinking that any website or social
media can be "private". Facebook has recently announced changes that are going
to make all your posts more public regardless of your settings. Even
information on so-called secure and password protected members-only forums or
paid journal sites can be vulnerable. Firewalls can malfunction and data can be
left exposed. Sharing can easily occur by using the cut and paste feature. Next
thing you know your story has made its way onto someone's blog or Facebook
I have been
considering pursuing locum tenens work for a year or so. I want to know your
opinion of the option of becoming a career locum tenens provider. How is that
perceived in the community? How does that affect one's career in the long term?
Is it better for me to settle down in a more permanent position?
Dear Job Seeker:
is a Latin phrase which means "to hold the place of, or to substitute
for" and these positions have been around a long time. You may also hear
these jobs referred to as "temporary" or "travel" positions.
There are many reasons that a practice might seek a Locum
tenens provider. It could be that one of their permanent staff is on an
extended leave or absence. It may also be due to a temporary increase in
patient volume or the launch of a new program.
Sometimes, organizations are under a hiring freeze and so
they cannot afford additional permanent staff but do have the ability to bring
in a locum provider. The last few years we have seen an increase in temporary
positions due to the uncertainty of the healthcare market. Although, if I think
back over all the years I have been in this business, it seems that the demand for
locum clinicians tends to be strong in almost every type of economy.
It takes a certain type of person to do a locum assignment
and not everyone is cut out for this type of work. Fortunately for you, and
others like you who do temporary work, this is good news because employers tend
to like the characteristics that make you a good locum candidate.
They understand that to be successful as a locum provider
you must be very flexible and adaptable, as well as independent. They also
recognize that because you will have worked in several different types of
practices and locations that you will have a wider scope of experiences.
Basically, you end up to be very well-rounded, which employers find impressive.
As a recruiter I was thrilled to hire a "serial locum" provider because I knew
that they would be a clinician with solid skills and confidence.
I speak from not only recruiting experience but also personal
experience. I have been a professional locum tenens clinician from the
beginning of my NP career (and I still am!). Some of my assignments have been
quite lengthy, renewing repeatedly for year after year while others have been
very short term.
Almost every clinic to which I have been assigned has offered
me a permanent position - many locums do eventually hire on permanently at the
end of an assignment - so lack of permanent employment opportunities has never
been a concern.
Today, it is inevitable that at some
point during your job search you will be communicating with your potential
employer via email.
Email by nature tends to feel less
formal than more traditional forms of communication and that can be a problem. Here
are 5 rules to help you avoid common email mistakes.
- Don't get too comfortable. You should always
treat email correspondence the same way you would if you were writing a
traditional letter. Always use a standard greeting and a closing in every email,
every time. I always thought it was rather rude when a candidate couldn't even
take the time to include a salutation at the beginning of the email or in
closing didn't bother to thank me for my time or at the very least wish me a
- Don't be mysterious or vague with your subject
line. It's not unusual for hiring managers to receive dozens, or even hundreds
of emails if they are handling several open positions. Subject lines like "job
application" can get easily get lost or passed over in a busy inbox. If you want
to increase the chances your email will be read then try to be as specific as
possible in your subject line. "Experienced family NP for urgent care position"
or "PA with 5 years of surgical experience for inpatient position" is much more
- Watch your spelling and grammar. Remember, you
are applying for a job not texting your BFF. Do not use abbreviations or
expressions such as LOL. And never, ever
include a smiley face. J You should always write in full sentences, use
spellcheck and go easy on the punctuation!!!
Exclamation points have no place in a professional email.
- Please write an actual letter. Emails that say
only "I am interested in your job" or "my resume is attached" are an epic fail.
Seriously, if you can't bother to write any more than a line or two you might
as well just come out and say "I don't value your position" in your email.
- Re-evaluate your email address. If it's not
professional sounding then create a new one. The best email addresses are your firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and if you are
currently employed don't use your work email when you are applying for a new
job. That just looks bad. And lastly, check your email often if you are job
Now that Labor Day has come and gone, it's officially the
end of summer. Fall is a good time to get back to all those projects we put on
hold. Which means this is a good time for my "get involved" speech.
This past year has seen a great deal of political action in
healthcare. There are new laws that have resulted in a multitude of new
regulations, most of which are still in play. NPs and PAs have much at stake. Many
states have passed legislation to increase our autonomy and practice but there
are still several more states with pending action. And we will always need to
be ever vigilant to make sure any progress we have made doesn't get
It's up to all of us to do what we can to protect our professions
and our patients. I would like to offer a few suggestions of what you can
I feel strongly that we all need to stop using terms like
"mid-level". If your employer is using this language to describe you, try to
persuade them to remove it from their vocabulary. Educate them and let them
know why we find "mid-level" to be offensive and insulting. And if you are
still using this term to describe yourself, for goodness sake, please stop! You
are only hurting your image as a professional.
(See my previous post "Middle
of What?" if you need a few reasons.)
Don't put each other down. I don't have to go far online or
even personally to hear our professions disparaging each other. PAs complaining
about NPs and vice versa. And sometimes we aim critiques against our own groups,
too! If one group moves forward it doesn't mean the other moves back. Progress
isn't always symmetrical, but it IS good for all of us in the long term. Stay
positive and support all advanced practice clinicians.
No need to wage a war against physicians either. Stay on
topic and talk only about your own work and accomplishments. I want to cringe
every time I read or hear one of us saying "We spend more time" or "our patient
satisfaction is higher" to promote our professions. We just need a seat at the
table, it's not necessary to take over the whole meal. If we want to have
physician buy in and support, we need to knock off that sort of talk. It isn't
making us any friends.
Join any and all organizations that are working towards
legislative action in our favor. If you don't have the time to get personally
involved then just give them MONEY. In our system nothing happens without
lobbyists and lobbyists take money. Simple as that.
One of the most frequent questions I get when counseling job
seekers is "How do I network? I don't think I really understand how to go about
Networking sounds like one of those outdated buzzwords from
the 1990s but I can assure you it is still relevant today. Why? For every one
of you who will find your next job via a traditional job ad you should be aware
that there are also a significant portion of NP and PA jobs that are NOT advertised
and instead will be filled simply by word of mouth. And among those positions
that are advertised, a significant number of applicants who are hired will get
the job because he or she was personally referred for the position by someone who
is currently working within the organization. This is why networking is
Networking can happen in a number of ways. It all starts
with meeting your colleagues. One way is
to get involved in your local professional organizations. I don't mean just
join as a member, I mean actually get involved. Volunteer for a committee, run
for an office -- just do something that facilitates interacting with your
Reconnect with former classmates. You might be surprised at
what your old school chums are up to these days. In addition to catching up and
rekindling an old friendship, you have the opportunity to connect on a
colleague level now rather than as a fellow student. Don't forget to contact
peers you worked with in your previous positions, too.
Now, don't think I am telling you to contact these folks
simply to ask for a job. No one likes to feel used. You don't meet someone then
get a job referral the next day. Look at it more like an investment. Whether it
is a longtime acquaintance or someone you just met at a conference, you need to
take your time.
Start off by learning as much about the other person as you
can. It can't be just about you! People like to tell their stories. Ask them
what they like about their position, what they dislike and if they have any
advice for someone looking to get into the position. Talk about interesting or
challenging cases. Just talk.
Networking is a slow growing process that doesn't bear fruit
overnight. Start now. Connecting is satisfying and even if you don't end up
with a job referral you will benefit by gaining a valuable resource: a mentor
or a future friend. And who knows, maybe one day it might be you referring them
for a job!
Don't underestimate the importance of a cover letter. Recruiters
and hiring managers are far more likely to take note of your application when
you include a cover letter. And it's imperative that you be noticed. Because, if
you are not noticed you won't be invited to an interview - it's as simple as
Here are three major reasons a cover letter is key to a
successful job search.
- A cover
letter showcases what we call your "soft skills." Before I hire you, I need to
fully evaluate your ability to communicate. A cover letter provides an example
of your written language skills but also gives me some insight into your
thought processes and sometimes even your personality. I need to know you can
organize and express yourself in writing. If I receive a cover letter that is
articulate and free of grammar and spelling errors I will feel more confident
about your communication skills and feel assured that you have a good eye for
detail. If properly formatted (a cover letter should always be written in a
standard business format) I will also be impressed by your manners. In this day
and age of emails and text messages it's refreshing to see a "proper" letter!
- A cover letter can help fill in or clarify some
points in your resume. Resumes are meant to be short and sweet and provide only
a snapshot of your experience and skills. Cover letters, however, allow you to
tell me a much more in-depth description about yourself and why you see
yourself as a match for the position. In other words, you can help me to see
and feel your passion. On the other hand, if you send me a rambling
dissertation that doesn't tell me much more than you really, really, want the
job, I am not likely to have a very favorable impression of you.
- Because you took the time to compose a unique cover
letter to me this tells me you are very interested in my position. A well-written
cover letter indicates that you have taken the time and energy to learn about
my organization which supports that you are genuinely interested in working for
me. But, if you send me a generic one-size-fits-all letter I am not going to feel
very special. Cover letters that are boilerplate and lack detail tell me that
you didn't care enough to put much effort into your application. And quite
frankly, if you don't care that much about your application, then I won't