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Follow These 3 Steps to Take Advantage of the Health Care Job Market

Stethoscope on top of medical document

Four million.

That’s how many new health care jobs the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will be added to the economy between 2016 and 2026. It works out to more than one new job per hundred people. Just from health care.

Workers currently in the health care industry don’t need to be convinced that their services are in high demand. The evidence is everywhere — from long shifts to short staffs.

But beneath the tension and stress of a hectic work environment, there’s opportunity.

If you’re feeling the effects of a high-demand health care job, you should take it as a sign that now’s the time to weigh your options on the job market. Otherwise you may be leaving money — and a better life — on the table.

To find out how health care workers can take full advantage of the current job market, we talked to Aerotek Practice Lead Bob Barlau and Recruiter C.J. McMunn.

They drew on their combined experience placing candidates in health care positions to recommend the following steps to exploring the job market:

Step 1: Know what’s out there — and what you want

Working in a field as demanding as health care means you’re often very busy. On top of that, you’ve also got the basic responsibilities of any adult so it’s good to know what other work environments and roles are available to you — and figure out what you really care about.

What motivations most frequently drive health care workers to seek out new positions?

According to McMunn, “Pay, culture, location and hours. Those are really big ones.” Barlau adds, “I’d also say that some people are all about advancement, promotion and their career track.”

The current health care job market definitely makes it possible for you to find a new job that offers:

  1. Better pay
  2. A more supportive work culture
  3. Higher staffing levels to ease your workload
  4. A more convenient location
  5. More flexible or reliable scheduling
  6. Excellent opportunity for career growth

Prioritizing your motivations before you look will help you decide between available positions. You can address whatever compromises you might’ve made on lower job priorities later in your search process.

Step 2: Evaluate the full array of options

The health care industry tends to divide specialized labor into specific categories and practices.

For example, if you’re a rotation nurse on the floor of a hospital’s acute gerontology care wing, you may be tempted to only scan the job market for other acute gerontology care hospital wing positions. But doing so would automatically eliminate plenty of excellent job options.

“I feel like most health care job seekers don't really know how much further they can go in their search,” says Barlau. “With the job market being what it is, it’s easy for health care workers to just go on job boards and throw a bunch of resumes out, and choose from what comes back.”

To take full advantage of this job market, you’ll want to expand your search to positions within your skill set but in different environments. Consider broadening your search for opportunities from hospitals to insurance companies, from a family office to a clinic, from triage to the lab or from retail pharmacy to an in-house operation.

Your skills may transfer into a variety of options you haven’t considered.

Leadership is one such option. “With any company and in any role in health care, if you have the right skills and a certain amount of experience, you could qualify you as a lead,” says McMunn. “Sometimes people kind of short change themselves and they might not know it, but if you just ask, you might be the lead on a team.”

Step 3: Leverage your advantages in a focused search

As a health care worker, you won’t need to put a lot of effort into finding a job. But while you no longer have to go above and beyond as a prerequisite to employment, doing so can get you to your dream job that much faster.

As other health care job seekers slide into complacency, the job market increasingly presents the opportunity to earn better offers for those willing to set themselves apart in the search process.

“It’s become less and less common for health care candidates to write a really readable resume that’s tailored to the position they’re applying to,” says Barlau. “And,” says McMunn, “interview preparation is slipping. Candidates in health care aren’t always going into their job interviews knowing about the company, knowing who they're interviewing with or having questions ready that are relevant to the position.”

In a market where most job seekers aren’t paying such close attention to detail, you can increase your chances of getting an offer, hearing back faster and even negotiating a higher pay rate. All you have to do is spend extra effort on the logistical aspects of the job application process. The work you do now to perfect your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, supplementary materials and interview skills can pay dividends.

With the job market in its current state, health care workers have a golden opportunity to get ahead and improve their quality of life. If you’re concerned about alienating your current employer with an obvious of a job search, reach out to a recruiting partner, or see what else is out there.