When I tell people that I work in health communications, I usually get asked how or why I choose a career that is so narrow. That’s because many job-search websites advise against getting too niche when considering new opportunities, as you begin to limit your options. But jobs in the health industry DO require such specialization because our work is very diverse in that we are people in the business of treating people and that brings about unique idiosyncrasies.
Whether you’re focus is public health, legislation, education, research, pharmaceuticals, caregiving, administration, marketing, or even IT, you can tell upon meeting a new colleague whether they have worked in health care before. There’s a certain amount of instinct, assertiveness, and know-how that distinguishes someone who is truly passionate about working in the field.
Regardless of what your ultimate goal is, knowing who you are and loving what you do will certainly boost your professional presence and can help steer your career path. Here are a few sure ways to let people know what you are about:
- Perfect your resume and emphasize all work that is applicable to your interests. Having a cover letter that states your objectives clearly and enthusiastically will let the hiring manager know that you are serious about the job. Employers will appreciate that you aren’t jumping around from industry to industry and that you are more likely to take a job and handle it with fervor because you’ve chosen to dedicate your career to it.
- Build a website portfolio or Linked In You need a place online where others can see what you are all about and connect with you. Once your resume is solid, this is pretty easy to populate and maintain.
- Tweet! Using Twitter to network with industry professionals is almost easier than connecting in person. Even those who would be otherwise unattainable are just 140 characters away. It can also be public, so your interest and knowledge in your subject of choice is redeemable.
- Join professional organizations. The Public Relations Society of America, for example, has health-dedicated sub-groups. There are a lot of local health-comm type groups, too. Many will send you newsletters with job openings that are only privy to members. If you participate regularly, you will quickly be able to add new things to your resume, as well. Networking can lead to long-term relationships that make for great referrals.
- Focus your extracurricular activities around health-related activities. If you love to write, blog about what you do. If you like to run, choose races that raise funds for disease research. If you like to volunteer, collaborate with a local hospital or non-profit to encourage healthy behavior in your community. Every little bit counts.
- Use your business cards! If you don’t have any, make some. Also, make sure the contact you set up for yourself on your smartphone is well, smart. A professional photo and a small blurb will draw someone’s attention and is memorable for the person asking for your information.
- Consider going independent. This may be a good option if you find that employers are looking for more short-term or contractual work. Register to do business with the state and be ahead of the demands of people looking for help with a few projects here and there.
- Be proud of what you do. Once people see how passionate you are, your work will speak for itself!