‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com. After many years in the corporate world, I decided to go back to school and get an associate's degree in health-care administration. I'm currently looking for a job in a medical or hospital setting, but it's very frustrating. Health care is going to be a huge industry, so you'd think they'd be willing to take people who have studied for this field. What's the deal? — Julie Dale: Here's the deal: Getting a degree or certification and asking "Where is my job?" is like getting a driver's license and asking the person behind the counter at the DMV, "OK, I got the license; now, where's my car?" J.T.: Let me jump in before Dale starts one of his rants about schools exploiting students. Dale: It's awful. Shameful. J.T.: Sometimes yes, but the good news for you, Julie, is that you are correct about the growth of the health-care industry. However, due to the recession, the expansion has been far from explosive. Add to that the number of people who are trying to make the switch into the field, and hiring managers are being inundated with applicants, even in health care. So, what do they do? They turn first to applicants who come in through referrals by current employees. Which means even though you made the effort to go back to school, you're going to have to focus on some heavy-duty networking to get a job. I'd suggest visiting your school's career center to see what it can do to help you set up informational interviews with alumni. Dale: My guess is that all you'll get from the career center is a sad smile. At which point I hope you'll decide to contact everyone with whom you went to school, especially those who were ahead of you in the program. Also seek out advice and contacts from your instructors — some of them might be well-connected. You might even try to form a networking group with others from your school. In other words, take the initiative, and do yourself whatever you wish the school were doing to help you. Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, jtodonnell.com, and of the blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2010 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
February 20, 2010