According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, medical laboratory science is still a great career choice with an attractive growth rate. However, for the first time in several years, the official handbook has downgraded the job outlook from "faster than average growth" to merely "average growth."
Competition is keen in this economy for several reasons. Older workers scheduled for retirement are working longer than expected, employees seeking job-security are more reluctant to job hop; resulting in both lower turnover and fewer vacancies.
Many employers are doing more with less, leaving some vacancies unfilled and reducing staff by attrition. Simply put, it is a much more competitive employment landscape than a few years ago. Finding a job could be tough; but there are definite strategies the new grad can employ to cut through the clutter, stand out and land that dream job.
Career Nuts and Bolts
It is important to start early, even before you walk across the stage to get that diploma. Remember many employers will hire new grads "pending certification." Approach your job hunt as a project; with your final grade being the reward of acquiring the best job you can. It is your "job" to work every day to get hired and you will succeed by following some simple rules.
It all starts with finding available jobs using every possible resource available. Many jobs are found through networking and word of mouth. A network is like "six degrees of separation." Start with those closest to you and work out: family, close friends, college professors, clinical coordinators at hospitals, colleagues in professional organizations, friends on social media (including people you might have never met in person), and friends of friends. The more people who know you are in the job market, the greater the likelihood of landing a job soon.
Use social media not just for networking, but also to check out the sites of prospective employers. Visit the sites that your friends "like." As you find employers of interest, make a note and visit their main websites. The internet generally is your friend. You can Google any organization by name or simply by description such as "hospitals and clinical laboratories in Seattle." Join sites like LinkedIn to expand your connections and get noticed. LinkedIn is used by an estimated 90 percent of recruiters who use social media. Twitter and Tweet My Jobs are other useful sites that provide apps that can be loaded on a smartphone.
Trade journals and magazines like ADVANCE are also a rich source of jobs, in both their paper and digital versions. Are you willing to move or travel? How far? If you are willing to take a travel assignment for, say, 6 months, then look at staffing agencies that specialize in that niche market. Maybe taking a pier diem or part time job is a way to get your foot in the door. Think outside the proverbial box.
Short and Sweet
The resume is no longer a mini biography telling all about yourself. It has morphed into a document that is designed to sell your skills and abilities to the employer. So it should answer the employer's implicit query "What can this individual do for me?' and "Why should I hire this person instead of someone else?" It is up to you to answer these questions convincingly and as clearly as possible on your resume.
Prospective employers spend an average of only 10 to 20 seconds visually scanning a resume or they use an electronic scanner to look for keywords. So your resume should be short, sweet, attractive, and chock full of keywords, with the most important information highlighted and upfront.
Resumes can be written in various formats: chronological, functional or mixed. No one is inherently better than the next. However, having very little clinical experience, the new grad might want to emphasize education, skills and attitudes (functional) over a list of jobs (chronological).
The document should be ideally one page and no more than two pages written in a font that is clear and easily scannable; and one that will not be distorted when sent in an email. Fonts like Times New Roman, Arial and Tahoma are safe bets. Start with highlighting your name and contact information--such as a reliable phone number and email address.
Do not overlook the simple things that might cause a prospective employer to form an adverse opinion of you unfairly even before they have granted you an interview. The voice mail message on your phone should be short, clear and professional. Your email address should also be noncontroversial: nothing like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have identified a job of interest, tailor your resume to meet the specifications of that particular job. One big mistake is to use a single generic resume for every job. It is advisable to even use actual terms from the job requirements in the body of your resume or cover letter so employers get a "hit" when they scan your correspondence using key words. The cover letter should be short and say three things: the job you are applying for, why you are qualified, ask for an interview as soon as possible. Short and sweet wins over long winded and over-detailed at this stage.
Prepare in Advance
So, you have been invited for an interview. Prepare, prepare, prepare. The old pieces of advice are still valid: be on time, dress well and make sure you bring an extra copy of your resume with you. Equally important is your preparation for the interview itself.
Research both the organization and yourself. Yes, yourself. Google your name to see what comes up. Scrutinize your social networking sites for any information or connection that some might find overly political or objectionable. It is a good idea to restrict access or delete any information that you do not want to accessible to an employer. Human resource departments routinely investigate prospective hires online.
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