As spring begins, students of various healthcare professions are preparing for graduation and getting ready to interview for that first job. Just one offer at the right facility is all it takes to start a successful career. Sometimes, though, a candidate is fortunate to have competing offers. How do you effectively compare organizations to determine which is the right fit?
Weighing options can begin even before an offer is extended. Asking the right questions during the interview can offer important insights into the job. What are the daily responsibilities? How long has the company been in business? How long has the supervisor worked there? These are all good ways for a job seeker to gauge what will be expected of him or her and also to determine out the longevity organization. “The stability of the company is really important,” said Amber Vedder, a recruiter for WellStar Health System in Georgia.
Asking questions is necessary for more than just the candidate’s own knowledge. “It gives them a chance to turn around and show what they can bring to the organization,” explained Sarah Stevens, account executive, Fortus Permanent Healthcare Resources, Utica, N.Y.
Where Are You Going?
One step to finding the right job is figuring out, “Where do you see yourself in your career?” Stevens put it. Balancing short-term versus long-term career goals and how two offers answer each is critical. For example, determining if long-range plans include becoming a therapy supervisor or a nurse manager can go a long way in picking the appropriate job.
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Growth potential is a major factor in evaluating offers. “It depends on how big the program is,” explained Stevens. Looking at all the jobs posted within the department can reveal the progression in a field. People initially hired as staff nurses can move up the ladder to become charge nurses, clinical coordinators or nurse managers, depending on the hierarchy in a given institution. “They might not be ready to be charge nurse at this point but give them two years and they may be” said Stevens of the early-career nurses she places into jobs.
Beyond promotion potential, there are less official ways to grow in a job. Do you want to attain a specialty certification or receive hands-on training in a certain practice area? Finding out if a job supports those endeavors is another tipping point.
Power of Perks
Of course money talks, but salary should not be the only thing on job seekers’ minds. Other monetary factors to consider include benefits, like the matching schedule and amount of employer 401(K) contributions and the cost of health insurance premiums. How often are salary increases and are they merit-based or cost-of-living adjustments? Are there annual bonuses and how do employees earn them?
Time-based factors to consider include commute time, paid time off and work schedule. Will you work days or nights? Will you be expected to cover weekends and holidays?
As healthcare constantly changes, continuing education is another factor to weigh. Is there a professional development budget? Can you take time to attend conferences in your field? Will the company reimburse you for returning to school to attain a higher level degree?
Work-life balance is on the minds of many workers today. Larger healthcare organizations can offer amenities like on-site childcare, fitness classes and discounts to attractions like amusement parks and movie tickets that small, private practices may not. When comparing two jobs, these are all worth considering.
The ability to articulate why you want to work for a particular company is essential to recruiters and hiring managers. Vedder explained, “It indicates to me that that they are thoughtfully considering their career goals and how those goals align with specific job opportunities within our organization.”
Learning about the inner workings of an organization not only gives candidates a leg up on the competition, it can help them determine if a particular hospital is the right place for their unique career goals. “It’s tough to identify company culture in an interview process,” admitted Vedder. And culture can be hard to quantify. Yet there are few things worse than a job that is not the right fit, no matter how appealing it is on paper. At WellStar, shadowing is often part of the interview, and Vedder encourages candidates at other systems to see if they can follow someone in a similar role for a few hours. Job seekers can gain a lot of valuable information from watching employees interact.
Some additional ways to identify what matters to a company are asking about any mentoring programs, formal or informal, asking how good behavior is rewarded and reinforced, and asking how often the team meets. How hands-on managers are can be a deciding factor.
Likability is an important factor. In a LearnVest article, Natalie Wearstler encourages candidates to ask themselves whether they like and respect their potential supervisor. Strong professional relationships are essential to career success and assessing whether you seem to click with a certain manager versus another can help tip the scales.
Also, whether a hospital is for-profit or non-profit or if a healthcare organization has local roots or is part of a large, national chain matters to some job seekers. Stevens, who places nurses, noted that whether executives have nursing backgrounds themselves or are strictly businesspeople can affect culture. Former nurses “Know how hard it is to be in that role” and can offer support accordingly, she said.
Seeking non-biased information is another way to evaluate offers. Vedder recommends the Bureau of Labor Statistics as a resource for learning about various careers. Informational interviews with people already working in a similar role are helpful. “What do you like about the job and what don’t you like?” is a good place to start, explained Vedder. Stevens suggests consulting the websites of professional organizations to read about industry news and where the profession is heading.
Once a worker gathers all this information, the website careercast.com suggests making a chart to analyze the prospects. For each job list the top five pros and rate how much you value each on a scale of one-to-ten. Add up the ratings to get each job’s positive ranking. Do the same thing for each job’s cons, creating a negative score. You can see which job has the best pro-to-con ratio.
From dollars and sense to educational offerings, picking the right job offer means weighing different factors. Careful consideration of all the options can lead healthcare workers down a rewarding professional path.
Danielle Bullen is on staff at ADVANCE and can be reached at [email protected].