By Barbara E. Arnold, MBA, RHIT, APR
Whether you’re looking to land your first job, execute a career pivot for work/life balance, or move up to the next rung on the health information management (HIM) career ladder, knowing how to navigate today’s HIM job market is a must. This two-part article series will share wisdom from three credentialed HIM professionals with more than 60 years of combined experience (including as hiring managers), discussing tried-and-true tips for HIM job seekers at any level in today’s changing career landscape. This first installment will cover the importance of education and credentials for HIM professionals, skills employers are seeking in job candidates, and how to craft a resume that will put your best foot forward. The second installment, posting next week, will discuss how to develop your social media presence, how to ace the interview process, and staying engaged with lifelong learning and networking.
Three credentialed HIM professionals—with more than 60 years combined experience, including as hiring managers—recently shared their tried and true tips for HIM job seekers at any level in today’s changing career landscape.
- Julie Hable, MBA, RHIA, operations manager, health information management, Mayo Clinic
- Wil Limp, MS, RHIA, CHTS-TR, program director, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
- Emmy Johnson, RHIA, vice president of operations and client relations, Gebbs Healthcare Solutions
Professionals looking to either start or expand their career in the healthcare sector have a promising horizon ahead of them. HealthcareFinance.com reported that in 2018, the US healthcare sector added more jobs than any other sector of the economy, according to Wil Limp, MS, RHIA, CHTS-TR, program director, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Sixteen million jobs—11 percent of the total workforce—were added, including 219,000 in ambulatory and 107,000 in hospitals.
“The job market for healthcare in 2019 and beyond in the United States is even more promising, according to both HealthcareFinance.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” he continued. “Healthcare is projected to grow 18 percent in 2019 with two millions jobs added, including 28,000 medical records and health information technicians, 72,000 medical and health services managers, 20,000 health educators, 44,000 computer and information systems managers, and 115,000 management consultants. Growth is expected in the US healthcare sector through 2026 largely due to aging baby boomers.”
Education and Credentials Are Advantageous
Education—an associate’s degree and/or bachelor’s degree—is advantageous to job seekers. The first recommendation from AHIMA’s 2017 white paper “HIM Reimagined” is to increase the number of AHIMA members who hold relevant graduate degrees (such as degrees in HIM, health informatics, business, or public health) to 20 percent in the next 10 years. In addition, obtaining critical HIM credentials and retaining certification through continuing education is a must for any successful HIM professional. With two AHIMA exams under her belt (RHIA/RHIT), Emmy Johnson, RHIA, vice president of operations and client relations for Gebbs Healthcare Solutions, shared six tips for the RHIT exam which can be used for any exam:
- Understand the content. Questions in the exam are random.
- Study everything. Specific cases, laws, statistics, and key dates are referenced.
- Supplement coursework with AHIMA’s online practice exams, prep guide, and online prep course.
- Keep track of time. There are 1.4 minutes per question for the RHIT exam.
- Understand the scoring. The RHIT exam has 150 questions. Only 130 are graded. Twenty are beta questions for possible use in future exams. The RHIT current passing scale is 400/500.
“One of the biggest challenges for employers and job applicants today is the matching of skill sets—both in hard technical skills and soft behavioral skills,” Limp said. “That you have computer skills and are tech-savvy are assumed; no need to list proficiency in Microsoft Suite on your resume anymore.
“Employers nowadays are looking for proficiency in five soft skills, according to LinkedIn Learning, which lists 50,000 different skills,” he continued. “They are: 1) Creativity, 2) Persuasion, 3) Collaboration, 4) Adaptability, and 5) Time Management. Job applicants can’t simply list these words on their resume; they need to be able to show by example.”
Surprisingly, Limp noted, written/verbal communication is not in the top five. Yet they are critically important in healthcare.
“How are you at communicating to multiple audiences? Can you write and talk at different levels of education? How successful are you at having those critical conversations with staff, patients and their families, and the general public?” he asked.
Your Resume Is Valuable Real Estate
Recruiters taking a first pass at a resume, or an applicant fitting into a one-size-fits-all resume, are things of the past. Software programs called Applicant Tracking Systems are now the first to review a resume. They are programmed to search for particular key words associated with a particular job posting or position description. And if there is a match, then an actual recruiter or hiring manager might actually review the resume… for a mere six seconds. As a result, job applicants today need to customize their resumes to specific positions and mirror exact key words from the posting or description. That’s how to get the resume in front of a real live human being, who will skim it and then move it or toss it. The resume is valuable real estate. Every word needs to count.
Limp and Johnson shared their advice on what makes a great resume:
Limp’s top tips include:
- Tell your story. What makes you stand out? Study the job posting or position description to use key words for skills the employer is seeking rather than key words employees might use.
- Replace the “Objective Statement” with a “Profile” or “Summary.” Make this an elevator pitch, what a job candidate says when s/he has the ear of someone on an elevator for 30 seconds.
- List achievements in two to four bullet points focusing on quantitative achievements, such as money saved or made, or work that came in on time and/or under budget, for example.
- Eliminate “References Available Upon Request.” Recruiters will reach out for that info if needed.
Johnson’s top tips include:
- Use RHIT-eligible, RHIA-eligible after your name to emphasize credentials prior to passing the exam.
- Make the resume clear, concise, and easy to read. New graduates’ resumes should be one page. Others, no more than two. Update it regularly.
- Provide a summary, and describe education, skills, qualifications, and work experience. A summary or objective statement aren’t required but provides the reader with a quick overview of the applicant. Make it count.
- Resume language should be specific, active, written to express, articulate, not flowery, and fact-based (quantify and qualify).
The second installment of this two-part article, posting next week, will discuss how to develop your social media presence, how to ace the interview process, and staying engaged with lifelong learning and networking.
**This article has been updated to clarify information from AHIMA’s 2017 white paper, “HIM Reimagined.”
**Editor’s Note: Views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AHIMA.