5 Ideas to Jump Start Your 2018 Job Search

The job market in 2017 was white hot—record setting by some measures. Over a quarter of private-sector workers changed jobs last year, a sign of confidence in the economy.

The New Year promises more of the same. Currently, there are an estimated 6 million open jobs in the U.S., which is near record highs, and the IT and healthcare job markets remain strong.

If you’re a job seeker, all of this is good news, especially if you have strong technical skills and complimentary soft skills. But finding a new job isn’t the same thing as finding the right job. The best roles—full-time and consulting—are still highly competitive, requiring candidates to put their best foot forward when applying and interviewing.

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If you’re going to look for work in 2018, now is a great time to assess your marketability and take some simple steps to improve your odds of landing that next great healthcare IT gig.

Update Your LinkedIN Profile

With over 500 million members, LinkedIN is simply the world’s largest talent network. As such, it’s a primary search resource for recruiters, so it makes sense for job seekers to stay active on LinkedIN and maintain an up-to-date profile.

Some areas to review and refresh include your photo (use a professional headshot), your summary and your skills and certifications. Make sure, of course, that your job history is current and accurate, and reflects key accomplishments. Add major projects (e.g. leading a go-live), volunteer experiences and even multimedia links (an article you’ve written or a presentation at a conference). All of these additive links and detail help recruiters get a clearer picture of you as a candidate—and a person.

Set up Job Alerts

Job boards still play an important role in job searches, but instead of searching multiple sites daily for new leads, why not let the jobs come to you. Most job boards, including ours, allow you to save searches and create email job alerts that send you notifications whenever a new job is posted that meets your criteria. Job Alerts are time savers and help ensure you get the latest jobs first. Set one up now!

Refresh Your References

We’ve said it before:  professional references can be deal-makers or deal-breakers. Employers value the opinions of previous employers. This is especially true in contract consulting, where hiring managers want to verify your skills and your attitude.

Preferred references are direct managers (rather than peers) who have worked with you in the past one to three years. Contractors should keep an active list of three or four recent references from past projects, along with their current titles, cell phone numbers and email addresses. If you haven’t been in contact with your references in a while, the New Year is a perfect excuse to reconnect and ensure that they are still willing to tout your work to prospective new employers.

Keep Technical Skills Current

Start by asking yourself three questions:  Are my primary technical skills up to date?  Are there new skills that I should be learning to stay marketable?  Do I have a plan and the resources needed to keep my skills up to date?

For example:  If you’re an Epic consultant and Epic knowledge is critical to your continued employment, then you should—by all means—stay certified and be aware of the recent changes to Epic’s CEE requirements. Beyond staying current, look ahead and assess what new skills—like app building or AI—may help you advance your career or make more money. Last but not least, do your research and build a forward-looking plan that includes specific dates and resources you need for additional training—and put your plan into action.

Ask for Advice

Remember those managers you are going to reach out to this month for references? Why not make them do double duty and ask for their advice. What do they think are your greatest strengths? Ask their view of your interpersonal or soft skills. Their answers may surprise you.

If you work with a recruiter—seek interview prep tips and ask for a frank appraisal of your resume. The best recruiters should be more than willing to help as their success depends on your success.

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