More Medical Jobs and Greater Efficiency: A Colossal Juxtaposition

We have a problem in the healthcare delivery system, a problem that is not being talked about by politicians or industry leaders. What is the problem? It is the clear and colossal juxtaposition between adding more medical jobs and increasing healthcare delivery efficiency. The two cannot coexist on the same plane. However, you would never know it by listening to the utopian prognostications we hear so often.

Until the problem is addressed openly and pragmatically, no real improvements will be made to the business side of healthcare. Costs will continue to go up, service delivery will continue to be inefficient, and patient outcomes will be negatively affected. There really is no way around it.

Efficiency Is a Job Killer

The healthcare industry is remarkable in many aspects, not the least of which is the insistence of its leaders that efficiency can be achieved without sacrificing jobs. Nowhere else in the marketplace of reality is this observable. The truth is that efficiency is a job killer by necessity.

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Take the auto industry, for example. In the earliest days of assembly-line manufacturing, plants employed thousands of workers needed to build the numerous components and assemble them for sale and delivery. As one decade transitioned to the next, the efficiency of the assembly line was improved by changing assembly methods and introducing new technologies. The auto manufacturing plant of today utilizes a fraction of its former workforce while producing more vehicles than ever before.

The result of this increased efficiency is higher quality vehicles that cost less money to produce. Does that not sound like what we are trying to achieve in healthcare? For years, we have been trying to reform the healthcare industry in order to make it more efficient while at the same time improving the quality of care. Now we are adding to those efforts by focusing on getting consumers more involved with their own care by taking control of the decision-making process.

If we actually succeed in making healthcare more efficient and cost-effective, the net result would be fewer traditional medical jobs in the marketplace.

Non-Traditional Medical Jobs

Behind closed doors, policymakers are terrified of embracing any sort of efficiency that will cost a local community its healthcare jobs. More often than not, hospitals and healthcare service providers are among the largest employers at the local level. Jeopardizing jobs is not good public relations. Yet being fearful of cutting medical jobs might be the wrong way to look at it.

Again, let us use the auto industry as an example. Increased efficiency did result in the loss of manufacturing jobs on the assembly line. However, it gave rise to a completely new industry of support services. People were needed to design and build the machinery to run the new, more efficient plants. Scientists and researchers were needed to push forward with research and development. New car dealerships were established to head up sales and marketing efforts. In the end, the manufacturing plant’s job losses were the job gains of other businesses.

Medical jobs may be lost in terms of direct patient care with improved delivery efficiency. At the same time, new jobs will be created in medical IT, billing and coding, healthcare administration and many other areas. And that’s the way we have to look at it. We cannot allow a changing landscape of medical jobs to prevent us from embracing efficiency and cost reductions. Otherwise, nothing will truly change.

More medical jobs and increased efficiency is a colossal juxtaposition that needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later. Are there policymakers willing to bring it up?

Houston: a Model for Medical Jobs and Healthcare Expansion

Outside of Texas, Houston is thought of as a business center with a focus nearly entirely on oil. However, they know better inside the Lone Star State. People who live and work in Texas know that Houston is one of the leading cities in America for healthcare delivery, research, and biomedical technology. They know there are more medical jobs open in Houston than any other single kind of employment.

According to the Houston Business Journal, the city’s five hospital systems take the top five spots for the number of open positions currently available in Houston. Among the top 20 companies with the most available job postings, the vast majority are in the healthcare delivery or research field. Houston Methodist has 1,600 openings all by itself. Nevertheless, it gets better.

The Greater Houston Partnership says Houston is home to “more than 190 life sciences and biotechnology companies as well as academic partnerships; more than 130 cutting-edge hospitals and health clinics, and some of the country’s top research facilities.” Indeed, a city made famous by oil and computer technology has embraced healthcare in a big way. So how are they doing it?

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One Step Ahead

They say that everything is big in Texas. Where business is concerned, going big or going home is the mindset. Nonetheless, going big requires a certain way of thinking. It requires a proactive mindset rather than one content to deal only with today. That is the difference with Houston. For decades, they have been planning to have more medical jobs; they have been planning to expand facilities and improve infrastructure; they have been planning to compete to bring new medical technology companies to their area.

Nowhere is Houston’s planning strategy more evident than in facility construction and infrastructure. Houston Methodist’s Willie French explained to the Houston Business Journal that when his company builds healthcare facilities, they are built in such a way as to make adding new floors easy. As a facility’s needs grow, they simply add upward space. There is no disruption of current service or land-use issues to worry about.

It is that sort of thinking that has helped Houston become one of the most important medical centers in America. It is also that sort of thinking that has recruiters looking outside of Houston, and the entire state of Texas for that matter, in order to fill all of the available medical jobs with the best talent.

Learning from Houston

There is a lot to love about the American medical system. However, there is also room for improvement in many areas, not the least of which is bringing the business side of healthcare out of the reactionary mindset of the 1970s and 80s and into the visionary mindset of the 21st century.

The healthcare industry as a whole could learn a lot from what they are doing in Houston. Texas’ largest city is a model for medical jobs, healthcare delivery and research because it has created an environment that is not dominated primarily by insurance companies and government interests. It is a consumer-driven market in which patient outcomes genuinely matter. That is the direction the entire country must go in if we are to continue to have the best healthcare system in the world.

As for job hunters, Houston is the place to be if you are looking for cutting-edge medical jobs in research and technology. Jobs involving direct patient care are in large supply as well. It is hard to beat Houston as one of the leading healthcare markets in the country and a great place to live and work.

Healthcare Jobs and Careers: There’s a Big Difference

The next few months will see career fairs being presented at high schools all over the country. Among the variety of assembled presenters, the healthcare industry will be represented by nurses, home health aides, and a long list of others. The question is one of how will the information be presented? Will students learn about healthcare jobs or healthcare careers? Needless to say, there is a big difference.

Students who start thinking about career choices in high school are much more likely to be willing to sit down with parents and advisers to chart out a blueprint for a career path. Those who think only in terms of getting a job are less likely to do so. Therefore, it is better for recruiters to concentrate on the idea of establishing a career. At the end of the day, the industry needs more career workers and fewer jobholders.

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Planning a Healthcare Career

In the days before a college education was the norm, a young person began training for his or her career through an apprenticeship or a vocational program. It was just assumed that once an apprenticeship began, the individual in question would stick with that career choice for the remainder of his or her working life. The result was a focused approach on a career rather than a job.

Today, we can still develop the same thing. We can recruit young people into healthcare by encouraging them to think about a long-term career. With that objective in mind, we can help them chart out a plan to reach their career goals. Yes, they will have to take some related healthcare jobs along the way toward establishing a career, but the pursuit of a career will remain the primary goal.

Planning should include key elements: where the student will go to school, what types of courses he or she will be taking, what additional experience can be gained, and how he or she intends to break into the industry after graduation. Having a plan in place prior to graduating from high school makes it a lot easier for the student to pursue career goals with a single mind. As with anything else, a solid plan is the key to success. Without a plan, the chances of failure increase substantially.

Career Development

Maintaining a healthcare career is just as important as planning for it when you are young. It requires a regular assessment of things such as current circumstances, past failures and successes, and future goals. Here are some important things to consider in developing and maintaining a healthcare career:

  • History – The various healthcare jobs an individual has held in the past all contribute to what the individual will become in the future. Therefore, each job should be considered another opportunity to advance one’s career. Each job should be viewed as a stepping-stone to the future.
  • Career Goals – Career goal do change over time. That’s okay. A regular assessment of one’s goals helps to clarify how to pursue the future.
  • Current Environment – Once you have been in the job market for a number of years, it is easy to see that the current environment is not the same as when you first started working. Things change. Being able to adapt to those changes in order to advance career goals is part of the game.

There is a big difference between healthcare jobs and careers. For some a job is sufficient, but for those interested in a career, greater effort is needed. There must be an emphasis on career planning, regular assessment of career goals, and the continual pursuit of future career development. That is how you succeed.

Medical Coders in High Demand at U.S. Hospitals

Healthcare reform may not have created all of the new doctor and nurse positions originally anticipated, but that does not mean it hasn’t created any private practice or hospital jobs. In fact, one of the areas of greatest need is that of qualified medical coders. For example, CNBC recently reported on a Missouri-based provider looking to hire 300 new coders over the next year-and-a-half.

What is driving the desperate need for medical coding professionals? New coding standards that were adopted as part of healthcare reform. The new standards, known as ICD-10, are scheduled to be fully implemented by this time next year. ICD-10 makes use of 140,000 codes – 123,000 more than the current system. The new system is intended to provide for greater detail that will ostensibly allow the system to improve patient outcomes through better control of treatment options.

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What a Medical Coder Does

A medical coder is a person who translates all of the records created by a healthcare provider into the codes that are then used by insurance companies for billing purposes. The codes cover everything from minor inpatient procedures to the most serious hospital treatments on the market. It is a job that requires an incredible amount of medical knowledge and attention to detail.

The problem healthcare facilities are facing in hiring medical coders is one of qualifications and skills. On the one hand, there are simply not enough coders being trained to fill all of the available clinic, office, and hospital jobs. Making matters worse is the realization that training alone may not be enough. Medical facilities need coders that are consistently accurate and reliable.

The coded data is what insurance companies will be using under healthcare reform to determine the effectiveness of specific types of care. If coders are not accurate in the data they enter, analysts will not be able to properly make use of the collected information. That would defeat the whole purpose of implementing a new system of 144,000 codes.

How to Become a Medical Coder

The medical coder position is not the same as the medical biller. The two disciplines may overlap at times, but they are distinctly different. The medical coder requires significantly more training and knowledge, including knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and detailed medical terminology. Coders must also be familiar with all of the major insurance plans and how their corresponding codes work.

There are no official requirements for becoming a medical coder other than demonstrating a thorough knowledge of medical terminology, physiology, and anatomy. However, the job has become so intense that more and more healthcare facilities are requiring either a bachelor’s degree or a certification program resulting in accreditation from a recognized institution.

Organizations such as the AAPC expect medical coders to have at least two years of practical work experience or take the certification exam in order to be accredited. They also offer training courses that can be taken online or in a local classroom. The AHIMA is another accrediting organization requiring either a certified training program or commensurate experience in order to be accredited.

The competitive nature of medical coding and hospital jobs suggests the most reliable way to get into the medical coding profession is to take the appropriate training courses through a community college, vocational school or one of the accrediting organizations. The longest the process will take is two years, though some programs can be completed much more quickly. As soon as you graduate and earn your certificate, you should not have any problem landing one of the many private practice or hospital jobs out there.

Is Medical Device Tax Hurting Actual Jobs?

The medical device tax was one of the most publicly controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act prior to the law’s implementation. The tax was widely seen by critics as a medical jobs killer and something that would add to the overall cost of healthcare by making medical equipment and devices more expensive. There is no doubt the latter is true; it is impossible to raise taxes without raising end-user prices. However, has the tax actually hurt medical jobs?

Stephen Ubi, CEO of the medical device trade group AdvaMed, says yes. At a recent Chicago conference, he told the assembled crowd that the medical device tax is killing jobs and reducing research and development budgets. He cited data from numerous reports that were also presented at the conference.

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On the other hand, another recently released report from UK-based EY says the medical device industry is doing quite well in the U.S. The report says revenues are up 4% this year, while R&D spending is up 6%. Even the number of employees working in the medical device field is up by some 5% this year. To the federal government however, the most important number is the 32% increase in net income for 2013.

EY says the increase in net income is deceiving. The report cites specific charges taken by Boston Scientific in the previous year, negatively affecting net income for 2012. When you account for the residual effect of those charges, net income for 2013 remained flat.

Income Equals Jobs

Despite some of the good numbers in the EY report, Ubi and others have a legitimate concern regarding the medical device tax and jobs. Why? Because we cannot look at a revenue increase and say the industry is doing better based solely on that number. When taxes are levied, revenue increases proportionally because those taxes are passed on to the customer. On the other hand, greater net income equals more money that companies have to spend. Greater net income leads to more medical jobs and R&D.

If revenues are up 4% while the medical device tax increases prices by 3.2%, the net gain is 0.8%. Moreover, that does not even account for any administrative costs associated with collecting and paying the new medical device tax. Therefore, even if the tax is not necessarily leading to job losses, it is fair to say that it’s not helping job gains. Under the circumstances, it seems fortunate that the medical device industry was able to increase employment by 5%.

Untapped Potential

One other thing to consider here is untapped potential. What we mean by this is the potential growth that could have been achieved had the tax not been implemented. There is obviously no way to quantify this potential, but it is also hard to argue against its existence.

When a company – any company – has to collect and pay more taxes, two things happen: it must raise its prices and it has less net income to spend. When there is less money to spend, the first area to feel the pinch is employment. That’s why our current economic recovery is not being led by well-paying, full-time jobs; it is being led by a historic increase in low-paying, part-time jobs. Companies cannot hire if they do not have the money to spend.

Yes, the medical device industry added some new jobs in 2013. Nevertheless, we are forced to wonder how many more medical jobs could have been added had Congress the courage to get rid of the medical device tax when they had the opportunity. There is no way to know for sure, even with all the reports to read.

Personality Tests and Healthcare Jobs

Many middle-aged workers can remember the first time they were presented with a personality test as part of the hiring and interview process. There they sat, filling in those tiny circles with number two pencils for what seemed like an eternity. As for the questions, it wasn’t uncommon to sit and wonder, “What does this have to do with the job I’m applying for?” Well, it turns out that personality tests are becoming a more common component of the healthcare jobs hiring process.

The healthcare industry managed to stay away from personality tests during the early years of their adoption. The thinking was quite simple: the medical field is one that relies more on a broad scope of knowledge and experience than an individual’s personality. Nevertheless, more and more medical facilities are questioning that thinking. They are now wondering how certain kinds of personalities fit the type of care they want to provide. Hence, the personality test is now being incorporated into the hiring process.

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What It Does

Personality tests have long been the bane of job seekers. However, not because the tests themselves are some sort of cruel and unusual punishment created by HR departments with sadistic tendencies. Job seekers have hated them because they have misunderstood them.

The primary purpose of the personality test is to find out if the person sitting in the interview is the same person who might potentially be working on the hospital floor next month. This is a legitimate concern for HR departments and recruiters. Why? Because job seekers are routinely told to put their best foot forward in the interview process. Nonetheless, few people can maintain the interview personality while on the job. Reality brings out the real personality.

It is true that personality tests can be frustrating, especially when it comes to healthcare jobs that can be exponentially more complex than some of the ridiculous questions job candidates are asked. Yet this is by design. An employer wants to know how a job candidate thinks and reacts. The seemingly inane questions are designed to uncover these things. It is not about a right or wrong answer; it is about understanding how your thought processes work in relation to the job you are applying for.

Tips for Taking Personality Tests

An astute individual will quickly recognize that the standard personality test really only asks a small handful of questions. They uncover thought patterns and reactions by asking the same questions in multiple ways. The results are then analyzed in terms of how individual answers for the same question compare. This means there is no way to ace a personality test. So how do you use personality tests to your own advantage? Here are two tips:

  • Be Honest – Personality tests are focused on consistency. Moreover, the best way to achieve consistency is to always be honest. Answer every question as honestly as you can, based on what you believe to be true rather than what you think the employer is looking for.
  • Do Not Over Think It – Do not fall into the temptation of over thinking the personality test. These tests are not designed to trap you into saying something that gives an employer a reason not to hire you. Take the questions at face value and answer them accordingly.

There is no getting around the fact that personality tests are now part of the healthcare jobs hiring process. Therefore, there is no point in getting bent out of shape about them. Instead, understand their purpose and embrace them as another opportunity to show an employer you are worth hiring.

Hospital Jobs Make Gains in September

There is good news to report in the arena of hospital jobs: hiring showed slight gains during the month of September (2014). According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment at U.S. hospitals increased 0.13%, adding about 6,200 jobs across the country. Year-on-year, hospital employment is up by more than 23,000 positions since September 2013.

Hospital Jobs

The statistics are good news for an employment sector that has remained largely flat for the better part of several years. The increase in hospital jobs contributed to an overall healthcare sector increase of more than 22,000 but, as one would expect, there were both losers and winners in the September hiring numbers. For example:

  • ambulatory care (+14,200 jobs) and healthcare services (+1,600 jobs) were the big winners;
  • nursing care facilities (-1,000 jobs) and physician offices (-400 jobs) were the biggest losers.

Overall, the healthcare sector does not appear to be doing as well as we originally expected when the Affordable Care Act was made law. From the time the legislation was first introduced we were constantly reminded that healthcare reform would add 30 million new patients and result in the creation of untold numbers of jobs. We were also told that hospital revenues would increase as a result of more people using them for primary care services.

Those predictions have not yet materialized. However, it is important to remember that the employer mandate was delayed by one year. It is now slated to kick in on January 1, 2015; open enrollment should begin for employer-based programs very soon. How many consumers remain with employer-sponsored programs as opposed to being left to the exchanges remains to be seen.

Changing Hospital Environments

Despite the less-than-optimal numbers from the BLS, healthcare reform has already had a definite impact on how hospitals function. Larger hospitals now prefer to employ hospitalist doctors even as they buy up and consolidate multiple group practices in their areas. They are looking to bring on more nurse practitioners and physician assistants as well, in order to reduce the cost of delivery.

In the midst of all these changes is an attempt to focus on quality of care rather than volume. Hospital administrators know they will lose funding if they do not improve healthcare outcomes for Medicare patients under healthcare reform. This has given rise to a number of new hospital jobs being created specifically to handle quality control issues. The patient care navigator is but one example.

As to the future of hospital jobs, we are left to speculate. There is still too much uncertainty with healthcare reform to predict how it will affect hospitals at the local level. However, it would appear as though large hospital groups are the best positioned to take advantage of the opportunities provided by reform. Independent hospitals and smaller groups will either have to find a way to compete or allow themselves to be acquired by their larger competitors.

Recruiting Environment

Healthcare recruiters should also pay attention to September’s numbers as they plan their strategies for 2015. More hospital jobs mean more demand for their services across the board. The successful recruiter will figure out what types of jobs will be most in demand and begin looking to fill them right away, while unsuccessful recruiters will wait until the market comes to them

If you are an individual looking for a hospital job, there is good reason to be encouraged. The healthcare sector continues its slow but steady expansion month after month. We trust there is a good job out there perfectly suited to your skills and training. It is just a matter of finding it.

Sources:

  1. Fierce Health Financehttp://www.fiercehealthfinance.com/story/hospital-jobs-beginning-inch-again/2014-10-06

Top Ten Job Search Tips

We’re halfway through the year and now is a good time to reassess your job hunting strategy. If your dream job is still elusive, now is a good time to take a deep breath, relax a little and let HospitalDreamJobs.com help you identify ways to finally land the interview and hear those wonderful words: You’re hired.

Competition remains tough in many markets including healthcare. Your edge is that healthcare is one of the fastest growing career fields in the country. Stay patient – it can be a long process. There are many things you can implement in your job search and MSN Careers provides 10 tips to help you successfully find the right job.

1. Create a job-search strategy.

Stop using the shot gun approach. Employers don’t like receiving resumes from candidates who have no business applying for the job. Carefully read postings and determine whether you can do the listed requirements if you started tomorrow. Additionally, tailor your resume to a job’s requirements and spend time preparing individualized resumes and cover letters.

2. Define your goals.

Yes, you want a pay check but a career should be more than that. Define what you want and what you offer then you can be a better job seeker by applying for jobs that align with your goals and aspirations.

3. Diversify your search.

Online job boards are a good way to find jobs but career specific job boards like HospitalDreamJobs.com are better. If you’re looking for a career in healthcare whether it’s in the ER or behind the scenes in the IT department, niche healthcare websites are the best place to be.

4. Evaluate your skills and add more.

If you’re a little behind the times or your skills are rusty based on what you are seeing, brush up through online courses or community classes.

5. Be unique.

Your application won’t be competing against a handful of others. In all likelihood, dozens if not a hundred applicants will look to get their foot in the door for one job. So be unique. Find the name of the hiring manager or someone who leads the department you’re looking to get into. LinkedIn is a terrific way to discover this information. Reach out to him or her with an introduction and let them know you’ve applied.

6. Listen.

Job searching is tedious and you can get so focused you may stop looking at the big picture. Pay attention to how employers are communicating about jobs and how you can speak to them in their own language. Connect with other job seekers or career experts and see what methods you can adopt.

7. Set goals.

Don’t focus on the one big goal of finding a job. Break it down into smaller, more manageable goals which will set you up for success and less frustration. Chose monthly or even weekly goals like joining a professional organization or volunteering which will help you meet new people.

8. Prepare for anything.

Always be ready. You can never predict when a phone call will come your way so be ready for an interview at any time. Know five examples that demonstrate your best qualities so you can rattle them off without batting an eyelash. Rehearse for interviews with friends or mentors so you don’t “wing it.”

9. Positive thinking can lead to positive results.

Believe it or not your job search is a method of learning. You’ll be frustrated at times but aren’t we all at some point in a job as well? The more positive you are the more people will go out of their way to help you.

10. Stay balanced.

Job searching can be exhausting. Create a schedule so you don’t burn out. Job searching can feel like a job in itself so treat it like one. Make time for yourself, spend time with friends and family and stay active.

HospitalDreamJobs.com is the best place on the web for finding the ideal health care career. Whether you are just starting out, looking for a fresh start or wanting a career change stick with HospitalDreamJobs.com. We compile tens of thousands of the best jobs in healthcare nationwide.

Getting Connected: LinkedIn For Your Job Search

We have mentioned social networking several times in our blog posts, and this week we decided to focus specifically on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social networking website for professionals like yourself, and if you’re not on it, you should be. It allows you to reconnect with former colleagues, post your curriculum vitae, and broaden your connections. A fact not to be overlooked: 80% of all companies expect to find their next employee through LinkedIn.

Gone are the days when you can walk into a hospital or clinic and make a casual inquiry about job openings. Most likely, you’ll just be told to look at the company’s website for job postings. And a cold submission to an online job posting won’t go nearly as far as a submission through someone in your social network. Nowdays, it is critical to have your resume online and for you to develop a web network of contacts.

Most recruiters first look online when deciding on viable candidates. LinkedIn can eliminate a number of hoops for a recruiter, and if your profile is not readily available but someone else who is equally qualified does have an online profile available, guess who moves on to the interview process? LinkedIn is the new first impression, and it allows you to sell yourself and market your skills and achievements.

When setting up your LinkedIn profile, you can download your current resume then rearrange it to highlight the skills and experience you feel are most crucial for a recruiter to see.

One of the best features on LinkedIn is your ability to request a recommendation from people in your network. These recommendations will appear on your public profile so that any recruiter can easily see the positive impact you have had in your various positions. We recommend that you have at least three recommendations and keep them current.

LinkedIn now has a feature similar to Facebook which allows you to start conversations. Looking for advice on a difficult decision? You no longer need to make phone call after phone call or send an email blast out. Simply post your dilemma on LinkedIn and everyone in your network will see it. Someone from your network may not have the answer but may be linked to a specialist in his network and can get the word out. The possibilities are endless!

Another great feature about LinkedIn, which is especially true for the seasoned professional who has worked at several hospitals and/or clinics over the last decade or so, is the ability to find former colleagues. Once you start this, the domino effect begins. This is where the real networking happens. A former coworker can introduce you to a friend or colleague of his and then you are “LinkedIn” with someone new, and so on. The more “Connections” you have the wider your “Network” becomes and your profile is reached by more and more people.

LinkedIn allows you to post as much or as little information about yourself as you want. If you’re looking for a job, contemplating a career change or wish to relocate, the best advice is to put all of your professional credentials out there because you never know who may be looking…for you!

How to Keep Job Skills Current

It’s a tough economy right now and certainly not the easiest time to find employment.

Take for instance, two close family members of mine. They are both well-educated and experienced in the film production industry. But six years ago, they moved from California to Oregon. This year, they moved back to California and are struggling immensely to find jobs in their arena. After four months, one of them finally found a starter position in administration in the industry but it is low-pay and his entire paycheck won’t even cover their rent. And she found herself interviewing for a barista position the other day-discouraged that her Dream Job in the film industry is not yet to be found. I stress that they are very experienced in their arenas. But apparently six years out of state was detrimental to getting their Dream Jobs back-in spite of the networking and industry volunteering they are doing while there.

I encourage you to keep your job skills and networking current-even if you are gainfully employed and think you will be there forever. If this economy has taught us anything-it is that no job is truly secure. We’ve seen huge companies take losses and close and people with twenty years plus seniority kicked to the curb. Our economy and employment rates may improve-but no one else will watch your back better than you.

Although the biggest argument I hear against this is the lack of time to network, etc, I want to stress the priority of it to you. If the unthinkable happens, you will regret not finding the time to keep current. So make it a goal and invest some time in this now by:

1. Remain educated in your field. Don’t hesitate to take continuing education workshops or even take classes toward an upper degree in your field. If the time comes, someone with current education is much more valuable than someone who hasn’t continued their education in many years. Education, of course, will benefit you personally too.

2. Stay online. Odd, I know. But while you’ve likely been happily employed for the past several years, the job search has moved mostly online. Familiarize yourself with job listings, who is hiring in your industry and don’t hesitate to look at the financials of public companies. Scour industry websites, newsletters and blogs. Learn as much as you can.

3. Improve your platform online. When a Twitter friend I know was laid off from his insurance position, he held over 50 “informational interviews” with various companies. Basically, he messaged us and asked for one to learn more about the companies we are with. Many of us gave him some time and due to this network, he has had several job offers. So dig up that old Twitter account and start making yourself valuable to your followers online. Already on Facebook or Linked In? Find friends in your industry and become a resource to them. Join the groups and answer questions when you can. Also consider other social sites in your industry.

4. Make some contacts. Remember that doctor you met at a conference last year? You still have his business card in your briefcase. Set aside a couple of hours each month to connect with people via email or phone, even if you just leave a voicemail. Or send them a card in the mail with your business card and thank them for the time they spent with you/class they taught, etc.

5. Stay technologically current. This can be difficult, but is important. You will be at an extreme disadvantage in future job searching if you don’t use email, know how to navigate a website, can’t use Microsoft Excel etc. What’s an I-Pad? Find out, if you don’t know. For good technical advice, read some tech blogs and keep up with the changes in the industry. Also consider learning software specific to your industry.

6. Keep your resume and references current. Keep your resume on the computer and add to it as you increase your learning, skills and job duties. And remember that someone who was a reference when you were job searching six years ago may not remember you well today. Find current references who can and will give a glowing report.

Following these tips will serve you well when and if you need to find a new job. You will already be halfway to your goal.