If you work in healthcare, your knowledge, training, and clinical skills are of the utmost importance to recruiters and potential employers. Without significant competence in these areas, people considering hiring you cannot be confident that you will be a successful match for the position they are looking to fill. However, in several areas of medicine - as in many other industries - there are plenty of job seekers who are qualified from the perspective of their technical skills. Given multiple candidates whose medical backgrounds are comparable, recruiters and employers look to other characteristics of applicants and their credentials when making hiring decisions. Not only do these other features of applicants help to distinguish otherwise similar candidates, but in many cases, non-technical assets that workers bring to the table often prove just important in predicting how suitable applicants are for specific jobs and how well they will enhance the value of specific groups or organizations.
Here are three of the most important things that healthcare recruiters and employers in the medical industry look for in job applicants in addition to workers’ technical prowess.
- People skills. There is a lot of resistance in medicine - particularly an academic medicine – to consider patients as customers. Healthcare is indeed a unique industry that provides life-changing and life-saving services. The idea of selling those services can be unpalatable. Nonetheless, decades of research show that how well physicians communicate with their patients affects how likely patients are to trust their doctors and heed their advice. These factors can be critical for health outcomes. It is therefore hard for anyone in the healthcare industry to deny the importance of people skills among healthcare providers.
People skills of course refer to a bundle of specific skills. In addition to likability, these skills include the ability to understand patients’ concerns, make patients feel heard, and communicate information to patients in a way that they will understand and remember. Showing through interviews that you are not only warm but also perceptive and articulate can help those making hiring decisions view you as someone with people skills.
- Collaborative tendencies. People skills are important in healthcare for reasons that extend beyond interactions with patients. As in most industries, colleagues who work well together are more likely to have a positive and productive work environment. Being willing and able to collaborate in healthcare can improve efficiency of healthcare teams and enable them to provide more and better care. Team members of a collaborative group are also often happier in their jobs, feeling more supported and experiencing less work-related stress.
Hiring managers who are part of the team that a job candidate will join will want to hire someone that gets along well with them and others in their group and who will add value to their daily lives. Recruiters who are not actively engaged with the day-to-day medical operations of the group are also keenly aware of the importance of a potential candidate’s likelihood of fitting in and working well with their colleagues. Showing interest in others’ skills and experiences and discussing how your skills will complement theirs can help clarify to those you interview with how you will collaborate with and strengthen the team.
- Organization. The most likable and skilled clinician will struggle in healthcare if he or she lacks the organizational skills required to be efficient and to be efficient without jeopardizing quality of care. Evidence of punctuality, ability to manage large and dynamic workloads, and to readily adapt to change or new challenges will help those in hiring positions feel confident that an applicant is organized and that they will help - or at least not hinder - the team’s workflow and productivity.
Takeaway: When looking for a job in healthcare, the first thing to consider is how your technical skills and experience will make you a good fit for a given position. However, with a lot of competition in the healthcare field, it is also important to think about what other qualities you can offer an organization you’re interested in joining and how you can demonstrate to those making hiring decisions that you are likely not only to be successful yourself but to enhance the success of those around you.