Finding a new position is never easy, but with a positive outlook and solid goal-setting skills, these pointers will help get you started on the right path.
Polish Up Your Résumé
A good résumé is essential for any successful job search. Do your research and keep these recommendations in mind:
Format | Search sample résumés online or pick up a template from Word to help create a format that works for you.
Contact Info | Make sure your contact info is accurate, so interested employers can reach you.
Areas to Include | Add items that show a potential employer your skill set:
- Academic. Include program completion (or expected completion) dates, academic honors, electives, and any school-related activities that contributed to your professional skill set.
- Added Responsibilities and Promotions. For jobs in which you earned promotions or greater responsibilities, only make one position listing. However, be sure to describe how your position evolved at that organization. Describe the projects you completed, or make note of your promotions. Show that you grew in your role, and employers will want you to grow with them!
- Language Skills. The United States has a diverse population. In the medical office, extra languages help you communicate with extra patients.
- Computer Skills. As a medical assistant, you deal with technology in a field that grows increasingly computerized. Demonstrate your proficiency with technology and different software packages, particularly those used in the health care industry.
- Membership. Membership in your professional association shows employers that you are committed to your career. Join the AAMA today!
- Volunteer Work. Volunteer work in your professional association or for any health-related organization will show potential employers that you are committed to your professional association and passionate about health care and the wellness of others.
Use Bullets | Bulleted lines make for easier reading. You can use full sentences or abbreviated sentence fragments, as long as the style is consistent. Avoid being overly descriptive. Go for concise points instead.
Use Verbs | Use action words when describing your previous roles. Avoid phrases like “responsible for” in your descriptions. You want to tell your potential employer what you actually did before, and action words help do just that. Lists of action verbs are readily available online.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread | And then have others proofread, too! In the detail-oriented world of medical assisting, the smallest mistakes can have the biggest consequences. Show your potential employer you are careful.
Update | Don’t get caught with old info. Update your résumé constantly.
Unpaid work sounds like the last thing a job seeker needs, but volunteering does not have to be a full-time job. Volunteer what hours you can, and add your activities to your résumé. It will help your résumé stand out from the rest. Your involvement will also help you build your network. Join professional organizations, make contacts, and help the community.
Volunteer with the AAMA
- Talk to a Leader | AAMA volunteer leaders often have years of knowledge (and professional contacts) to share and welcome hearing from anyone interested in volunteering.
- States and Chapters | Talk to leaders in your state society or local chapter to find out what volunteer opportunities are available near you. Call the AAMA for contact information at 800/228-2262. Many states have websites and Facebook pages, so check the State and Chapter Listings, too.
- National | National level volunteer work is an impressive accomplishment to add to your résumé. Volunteer with the AAMA. E-mail a national member of the Board of Trustees. Interested in a specific volunteer team or position? The AAMA will help you connect with the right person to talk to or act as your mentor. E-mail Boardservices@aama-ntl.org or call 800/228-2262.
Volunteer within the Field
- Check around with hospitals, physician groups, and clinics in your area. Volunteer (and employment) opportunities are frequently listed.
- If you find a volunteer position in your specialty of choice, take it! Institutions often promote from in-house; you could find your volunteer position becoming a paid one.
Volunteer with a Health Organization
Remember, volunteering is a commitment. The image you present as a volunteer should be identical to the one you present as a professional. Show up on time, follow through on your work, and people will take notice.
Choose work you enjoy. Your enthusiasm will shine through when you talk about your accomplishments in job interviews.
Get Caught Up in the Net
Use the Internet and social networking to your advantage. The resources that will help you make connections and land a great job are right at your fingertips!
Internet Searches | Get the most out of Internet search engines. Research on the Web every step of the way:
- Find résumé writing tips and sample résumés.
- Read or view video clips on the latest interviewing advice.
- Before your interview, research the employer, so you can impress the interviewer with your knowledge and interest.
Job Boards | Making contacts and getting referrals is a better bet for landing employment, but sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough. Never forget to keep your eyes on job boards.
Google Alerts | Make the job leads come to you. Set up Google Alerts (see Google’s instructions) for medical assisting positions in your area. Use keywords, such as “medical assistant,” and your city and state to get notices on openings as soon as they come out.
Facebook | The AAMA Facebook community keeps growing, from new students to savvy veteran CMAs (AAMA). Fans share everything from jokes to personal stories to career advice. So put yourself out there and join in on the discussions. Here are a few pointers to guide your contributions:
- Be Helpful | Members are more inclined to help when you help others. Add your ideas to the discussions. Show yourself to be a curious and driven medical assisting professional. A contact made through Facebook is more likely to lead to promising opportunities when they get to know you!
- Be Positive | Posting “I need a job!” or complaining that you cannot get hired is no way to go about your career search. You want people to want to work with you. Once they get to know you on Facebook, you might mention that you are looking for a job in your area and that you are excited to start or continue your career.
- Be Social | Remember, Facebook is a social venue designed to help you connect with people. Avoid using it only as a job search tool.
LinkedIn | If Facebook is meant to be compared to a backyard barbecue, think of LinkedIn like a business luncheon.
- Exchange Ideas | LinkedIn is a professional online setting, where participants exchange ideas related to their careers far more often than jokes (although showing a sense of humor is never frowned upon!). The best way to land a job through these venues is to participate as an informed professional. Ask questions. Answer questions.
- Post a Professional Résumé | Be sure that your résumé is clean, professional, and up to date. You want to present the most professional image whenever possible. You never know who could be checking your profile!
YouTube | YouTube has more to offer than movie montages and clips of people falling down. A number of educational videos can be found on the site, so when you wonder how to do something, think YouTube:
- Skill-building | Brush up on a particular skill set by searching out specific topics.
- Professional Advice | Search for advice on anything from professionalism in the office to how to conduct yourself in an interview.
Exploring YouTube can help you better yourself as a medical professional!
Build Your Skills
Every new skill makes you a better medical assistant. Better medical assistants have better employment prospects.
Become a CMA (AAMA) | It pays to be certified, according to the AAMA Medical Assisting Compensation and Benefits Report, so find out how you can achieve a CMA (AAMA) credential.
Pursue Added Certifications | Increase your skill set with added certifications, such as coding or phlebotomy. The resources are out there to help you learn, whether you want hands-on technical abilities or added administrative skills.
Stay Informed | Keep in the know about important issues in the health care industry, particularly those affecting your profession. Talk about how medical assistants are becoming such an integral player on the health care team. Sharing such industry knowledge in a job interview will make you stand out from the rest.
The Interview: Negotiating Pay
Preparing for an interview takes research and practice. Research interviewing skills from the Internet. Talk to your network of professional contacts. And when it comes to negotiating compensation, keep these tips in mind:
Do Your Research | Make sure you have a figure in mind that is in keeping with the position, your experience, and your location. You can even share your information with the employer. Here are two resources to get you started:
Avoid Focusing on Pay | Instead, focus on the value you can bring to the organization. To an employer, knowledge and experience translates into money saved in training costs.
CMAs (AAMA): Showcase Your Value | If you’ve achieved your CMA (AAMA) certification, go to the interview equipped to explain why the CMA (AAMA) is the gold standard in medical assisting. Your education, practicum training, and certification standards—including recertification requirements—will make you stand out from other applicants. Provide literature that illustrates your vast skill set and the high standards of CMA (AAMA) certification:
Direct employers to the Verify CMA (AAMA) Status page to confirm your certification. They might just find out your competition doesn’t have the credential, and give you the leading edge.
Practice Your Pitch | Before any job interview, you need to practice what you want to say. That means verbalizing your points out loud. Practice in front of a mirror, then practice with friends, family, and colleagues. Keep practicing until you are able to make your points clearly and with confidence.