Friday, February 15, 2008

Career Changing Mom Goes Back to Work

I am currently taking a Medical Transcription course to change careers. The big problem is my whole job career has been in the Manufacturing area. The company I worked for (22 years) just up and closed in August 2001. I then decided to stay home with my kids for a few years.

Now I am ready to go back to work. I have applied at all the local hospitals for an entry-level job and when they see my resume they say I am overqualified. I have no health field experience. How do I go about writing a cover letter explaining no job for 7 years and a career change?
-- Cheryl

by Garla Smith of Smart Moms Online

Dear Cheryl,
Your cover letter is designed to keep the reader interested. It should contain positive information that is relevant to the position including skills and experience. It should also include a brief explanation addressing those issues that will be an immediate flag during the resume read. The key is not to focus too much energy on the gap in your resume. A simple statement toward the beginning of your letter addressing your “leave” or “sabbatical” or “time off” is an ideal method for addressing your break. It could read something like this
“As you can see from my resume, I have over X years experience in xxxx. Due to company closure, I took a sabbatical from my career but remained active by doing/participating in xxxx. I am making a career change but still trust my X years experience is applicable for this industry.”

You may already know what the xxxx experience is. This experience should be the meat of your cover letter and should be transferable to both industries. Spend some time brainstorming. Here are some ideas.

1. Did you acquire skills on the job that you continued to use or fine tuned while at home? Are any of these skills applicable to the position for which you will apply?

2. Consider emphasizing the organizational skills, leadership skills or even interpersonal and communication skills and give examples.

3. Is it possible to emphasize your quality experience? Are you certified in Six Sigma or some facet of this quality approach. This methodology is recognized in any industry and finding candidates with a disciplined approach to quality counts as a plus. Within transcription work, quality and error percentages are extremely important to the end client.

4. Consider utilizing skills assessments. Assessments help to pinpoint exactly where you stand. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is critical for any job search. For instance computer software skills, what do you know and how proficient are you? There are many free assessments on the Internet. The free ones will give you only partial results but they can still help you provide an impressive element to your cover letter and resume. Take some time to do an internet search for “skills assessments” and review what is out there. I have heard good feedback about the Highlands Ability Battery Assessments.

Finally gaining certifications help tremendously to set you apart from other candidates. Certifications indicate that you are a serious contender. These strengths and certifications should be mentioned in your cover letter as well as presented in your resume. For some additional information of Transcription Certifications visit the AHDI website.

If you have additional questions please feel free to email me at I would be happy to talk with you.


Julie O'Malley, CPRW said...

Great suggestions, Susan! May I offer another option? I suspect the hospital's real concern is that, with 20+ years' experience, this candidate will expect a higher salary than their entry-level range. However, if she emphasizes up front that she is changing careers, they will see that the entry-level salary fits with her expectations. For example, she could say: "I will be completing my certification in Medical Transcription in March 2008, and am eager to begin applying my skills and training in this new field. I would like to learn more about the XX opportunity at XX Hospital, and how I can contribute to the XX team." After that, she can explain how her old skills, including time spent on family responsibilities, have prepared her to excel in this new field.

Just another way to look at it!

Julie O'Malley, CPRW said...

[Oops, just realized that answer came from Garla, not Susan. Please edit my comment accordingly, if you can!]

Susan Ireland said...

Thank you, Julie. I like your suggestion very much.