5 networking tips for health administrators
Heard the expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know”? While that might be true for some industries, in health administration, both aspects are equally important.
“What lands people jobs,” says Dean Athanassiades, MS, an online instructor in the health administration program and nursing program at University of Phoenix, “are relationships and practical experience — two things you can get through networking.”
Athanassiades offers five tips to help you get noticed in the health administration field:
Join professional organizations.
The American College of Healthcare Executives, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society all permit student — as well as professional — memberships, giving you a chance to network with people in your industry.
“Every one of these organizations also has an online mentorship program,” Athanassiades notes, “which is a great way to learn from other health administrators” if you’re in school or new to the field.
Conduct informational interviews.
Doing these can give you an insider’s view of your field and, Athanassiades notes, they’re easier to get than job interviews. “People love talking about themselves,” he says, “and there’s less tension because no job is at stake.”
Meet other health administrators during organization chapter meetings, or ask one colleague to introduce you to another — then invite that person to coffee. Among other topics, you can ask for tips on how to get your first job in health administration or about how to find other positions if you’re looking to move on or up in the field.
Build your brand.
Whether you’re a student in health administration or currently on the job, Athanassiades emphasizes that you can grow your reputation by demonstrating what you know. For instance, he says, “professional organizations are dying for people who can write newsletter content.”
You also could moderate panel discussions on key issues. “You don’t really need to be an expert on the topic,” he notes. “You just have to be good at asking questions and finding people who can answer them.”
If you have a master’s degree and at least two years of experience in health care management, you might consider earning what Athanassiades calls the “gold standard” in certification from the American College of Healthcare Executives: board certification.
To obtain this credential and become a fellow of the organization, you must pass a computerized exam covering 10 areas, including organizational structure, quality and performance improvement, health care laws and ethics, finance and management.
Becoming a fellow not only indicates your mastery of critical health administration concepts, but also gives you a credential recognized across the industry. Aside from being an ice breaker you can use when introducing yourself to other professionals, the credential gives you something to showcase on your resumé.
“It can differentiate you from the 40 other people applying for that midlevel health care management job,” Athanassiades says, because it’s hard to obtain.
Leverage social media.
Athanassiades advises making one profound observation a day on the Twitter® social network about a topic in your field that you’re passionate about. Starting a blog and sharing it with your colleagues and on your social media profiles is another relatively simple way to write about what you know — and demonstrate that you’re well-versed in health administration topics.
“My co-worker’s son is a software programmer who became interested in health care because of his father,” Athanassiades says. “He launched a blog about [the standards that govern the use of medical records], which gained wide readership. Then he started getting job offers.”
This happens more than you might think, Athanassiades notes. “When a retained search firm starts looking for job candidates,” he says, “they go to social media first. If you have a strong online presence, headhunters will find you.”
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