The end of the year is almost here! Make a resolution to prepare yourself for an expected or unexpected position change. Job searches can take you by surprise – an executive recruiter can call one day offering you a chance for a “plum” health system CIO position or other IT leadership role that you can not pass up. But are you ready for the limelight? If you haven’t taken center stage in a job search recently, watch out, things have changed. The Internet has made everyone – including potential employers – investigative reporters. In these competitive times, you and your background need to be transparent and outstanding. What do you need to do to prepare for your next career move?
Your resume is your written representation of your work history. It has to be written like a marketing document. Set it off with a dynamic professional summary, use a reverse chronological format, leave some white space, and state key accomplishments. Any spotty job hops, and employment gaps are difficult to explain, but you don’t want to be dishonest. Were you consulting, working part-time, or volunteering? If so, explain those experiences, even if you were not paid.
Assume any degree listed on your resume will be verified. Be proactive, acquire copies of your diploma(s) and transcript(s), and know the dates of graduation. Dates don’t have to be on the resume, but need to be revealed during interviews. Degrees will need to be from accredited colleges and universities. There seems to be a rise in fake degrees or listing of non- accredited schools on resumes, this will eliminate most individuals from even being considered a candidate. It is better to be truthful and state “completed courses towards a degree” or “expected graduation date May 2012” or nothing if you do not have a degree. If you have an international degree, list the school, city and country.
Don’t be surprised that a recruiter or company will do a pre-employment criminal, credit or even sexual offender research on your background. Some companies who may have federal contracts will need to have candidates who are free of defaulted student loans or federal or state liens. If your child defaulted on a student loan and you co-signed, be sure to show that you are making payments and it is no longer in default. If a divorce has messed up your credit score, work to resolve any issues before you seek new employment.
New employees of a health system or mid to large company will be asked to pass a pre-employment physical and submit to drug testing. If you have a medical condition or disability that is not visible, it is not necessary to disclose it during the interview process. Recruiters and employers welcome openness in these matters, but if it does not impact your ability to do the job, go with your gut on discussing it.
Your professional references are precious people, handle them with care. Talk to them; let them know you are sending their contact information to a recruiter or a hiring manager. Don’t overuse them; don’t list them on your resume, and never use current employer contacts, unless they know you are looking. Ideally you need three to five business references including a boss, a peer or a subordinate. They should be able to speak to your leadership, management, strengths and areas of improvement. Recent references within the last five years are preferred. Letters of recommendation are not needed.
Be prepared to take some personality tests for a new job, everyone is doing it. There are a variety of tests to take online to assess your behavior and personality including:
Some organizations may have you visit a psychologist for evaluation and testing, or schedule a phone conference for evaluation. It is a good way to learn more about you. The hiring organization usually has the entire executive team go through the testing process.
Beware, everyone is watching you! Check out your online presence. Hiring managers will be evaluating you before you meet them. You should research any prospective employer thoroughly. Keep a professional public Web presence.
Some tips for helping your Web presence.
- Keep your Facebook and Twitter personal accounts private.
- Update your LinkedIn profile, ask for recommendations, and join HIT groups.
- Google yourself and check out your public image.
Don’t wait until 2011 start preparing for the next opportunity – get your house in order now.
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