Ask an Expert: Landing a Job in a New Field

An AOL reader asks, "My resume needs to show how my recent education and certification gives me the knowledge required for a medical biller or coder in a physician's office or hospital. I have been unable to overcome the minimum experience of 1-3 years in a health care environment required for any position."

This issue really goes past the resume. While the resume is an important marketing tool, it is only one piece of the job search puzzle and it is unlikely that you will land a job in a new field just by focusing on the resume. Here are some tips for optimizing the resume and incorporating other strategies to increase your chances of landing a position in your new field.

Focus the resume on recently acquired new skills rather than previous, unrelated work experience.

Lead with a summary that positions you as a medical biller/coder and list the core skills you have acquired as a result of your recent education that make you a good match for the job. Follow that up with an education section that outlines the training you received in school as well as any school projects that simulated the work of a medical biller/coder and any internships or volunteer experience in the field. Abbreviate your previous work history so you can call more attention to the more recent and more relevant educational experience.

Go around the job boards.

It can be challenging for a career changer to land an interview off of the job boards because the hiring authorities using the boards are generally looking for exact matches to their job description. Since they get so many applicants for one position, they have little reason to "take a chance" on a candidate with no previous experience in the field. Trolling the job boards is rarely a sound job search strategy for a career changer.

Reach out to your school's placement office.

Many schools have relationships and partnerships with companies in the community that need employees with the types of skills the school provides training in. Build a relationship with the placement office before you graduate so you are well-versed in potential opportunities once you are ready to apply.

Build your network.

Become active in professional communities that support your new career target. Begin to make inroads with people who can become advocates for you and help open doors for you. When you are introduced to a hiring manager through someone they know and trust, the requirements on the job posting are often relaxed.


Offer your time and expertise in the communities that may need someone with your skills. Build relationships with hospitals, doctors' offices, schools, non-profit agencies or anyone else who may eventually be in a position to hire you. If you can get some experience as a volunteer, that may be enough to help you get passed the the barrier of not having paid work experience in the field.

Find an internship.

This strategy is similar to volunteering, but an internship gives you even more of a chance to learn and perfect your skills. A good internship is one where you receive regular guidance on the tasks necessary to do the job and you don't spend time on unrelated tasks or "grunt work."

Your Turn: Have a job-related question you want to ask the expert?

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