How to, and Not to, Apply for a Job

We needed a new receptionist. Receptionists are the first voice patients hear on the phone and the first face they see when they come into the office. They can be the difference between a positive or negative impression of not only the practice but of the doctor on a personal level. A bad hire can lead to damage that takes months to overcome. With these reasons in mind I began the search process with a sense of dread. I did not want to make a mistake. Again.

I decided to attack the problem on two fronts. I called a local temp agency with whom I had worked in the past and also put an ad on Craig’s List. The resultant flood of resumes and applications revealed a lot of how, and how not to, apply for a job. Here are some of the lessons learned.

1-Career Objective statements on resumes are often stupid and can kill an applicant’s prospects.

I do not know who teaches medical assistants how to compile a resume but someone has been telling people to say really stupid things at the top of their resumes. Here are some of the opening goal statements-

“Obtain a Administrative position where utilizing extensive skills and knowledge will help people.”

“My objective is to one day rise up in a company and expand my knowledge, strengths and interests in the different things I do in life, also to learn and grow from my mistakes which I consider stepping stones in life for a better future.”

2-Many applicants seem to be seeking a job other than the one for which they are applying.

I received resumes from applicants stating they wanted to “improve sales” or “work in a hospital” setting as well as  others that did not make any mention of the position for which they were applying. In a competitive market applicants should take the time to edit their resume so it appears they are applying specifically for the job in question.

3-Grammar and spelling matter

One applicant was very interested in a "postion" with my company. She didn’t get it. She didn't get the position either.

4-Many applicants don’t understand they need to do what the boss wants.

In order to make the process more efficient I decided to conduct all of my initial interviews via Skype or FaceTime. There are times when I can tell someone is not a good fit within just a few minutes. It seems unfair to both of us to make someone drive to my office for what may be a brief interview. FaceTime seems to be a great way to conduct a brief initial screen and respect other's time. I called one applicant and asked if we could schedule a brief initial interview on FaceTime. She replied, “I would rather not do that.” The result was that she did not get interviewed at all.

5-A little homework goes a long way.

In our area our office is the top rated practice on Yelp. I have an office website and Facebook page as well as this personal website/blog. Less than half of the applicants I interviewed had taken the time to read about me or my practice and as a result were unable to give specific reasons why they wanted to work for me. They came across as interested in any job, not for this specific job. As I was looking for someone who believed in our vision and philosophy of care these people placed themselves at a significant disadvantage.

6-Your past is not a secret.

One applicant sent over by the agency gave a good interview and we were ready to hire her. Then her background check revealed she had multiple felony counts pending for stealing prescription pads and writing fraudulent prescriptions. Another applicant had judgments against her for breach of contract. In an internet era a person's background is only a few clicks away.

7- Do it right and you may get more than you expect.

The person we hired had none of the above problems. Her career objective on her resume was “To obtain a position in a company where my experience and skills can be utilized to better improve patient satisfaction.” As our primary focus is quality care and service, this statement showed she shared our values. Her resume emphasized her experience in medical offices in a clear and concise manner.

When I called and asked if she was available for a FaceTime interview her reply was perfect. She told me she thought that was a great idea and that she would be available that afternoon. When I “called” her, she was dressed nicely, had appropriate hair and makeup, and was ready with a smile and pleasant demeanor. She had done her homework and knew who we were and what our values were. She had read our reviews on Yelp and told me she liked our emphasis on customer service.

Finally, her social media presence showed someone who was mature and committed to family. Everything about her was positive and appealing. When all of this was combined with the talents she revealed when she came in for a working interview it is not surprising that I hired her right away at a salary above what she requested.

She comported herself like a winner and won the job. She made me feel like a winner as well.


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