Make a brand name for yourself to boost your career.

 Biomeds know the value of a brand name. Manufacturers spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources to make sure their brands are recognized and respected. The brand becomes part of an overall marketing strategy designed to sell the product.

Biomeds looking to further their careers could do worse than to model their own marketing strategies off of the successes of industry. Whether you are fresh out of school looking for your first job in the industry or a seasoned biomed looking for greater challenges and rewards, it’s never too late to begin marketing your brand.

First Things First—Getting the Call
Resolve the Resume
A biomed’s resume should be “an attention getter,” according to Simon Miranda, chief of biomedical engineering for Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. “In the biomedical field, time is of the essence,” he says, “so it should not be too long—no longer than two pages—and highlight key points.”

Tim Hopkins, executive recruiter of Lakeview, Ariz-based Stephens International Recruiting, agrees with the two-page maximum. “Don’t get too creative,” he advises. “Heath care is a conservative industry, so keep the resume conservative, not flashy.”

Larry Radzely of Adel-Lawrence Associates Inc, based in Aberdeen, NJ, recommends that the first page of the resume be a job and educational history and the second page be an equipment list. Radzely, who has been recruiting since 1988 and worked in the industry for 20 years before that, recommends being very specific with the equipment a technician is familiar with and listing it by both type (for example, anesthesia or hematology equipment) and manufacturer.

Roger Bowles, CBET, associate professor, biomedical equipment technology, at Texas State Technical College, Waco, advises his students to customize several versions of their resume for particular kinds of companies, such as hospitals or manufacturers. “This is where using a situational objective can be useful,” he says.

 Simon Miranda (left), chief of biomedical engineering for Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, works on a physiological monitor with Charles Hodges, biomedical engineering technician.

In the biomed industry, employers are more interested in experience than education, so that should be listed first. This is not to say that education is not important—according to Miranda, education opens the door, but experience proves the technician can do the job. Hopkins adds that his clients like to see a list of specific training courses that the applicant has completed, with dates and locations.

Cover Your Back
While cover letters might not be as important in the biomedical field, they can be a useful tool for targeting a specific job description. A short, concise cover letter can highlight specific accomplishments. Miranda recommends including one only to match specific skills to a specific job.

Hopkins agrees and adds, “The cover letter should match the specific job and company it’s being sent to. Point out specific skill sets that match the job description. Do not bury qualifications that a potential employer has expressly requested, such as manufacturers’ training, education, or background information, in the resume.”

Radzely says that most cover letters do not get read—“the first sentence can make it”—but one trick is to include a PS, one or two sentences highlighting a special skill or asset. “The PS will always get read,” he says.

You’d Better Shop Around
Before you can market yourself, you need to know who is buying your product. To do this, you should do a bit of shopping yourself.

First, become involved in a local biomed society and network with others in the field. Many people in the industry know one another, and personal introductions and networking are the best ways to find out who is hiring—especially at the local level. Most of Bowles’ students attend the North Texas Biomedical Association events to meet those already working in the industry. “The graduates place themselves,” he says. “They already know where the jobs are.”

For new graduates, professors and career-placement counselors are valuable resources. Educators stay in contact with alumni—who soon become employers.

Recruiters can be helpful for finding job opportunities that are not published, particularly for biomeds with experience or who are looking to advance within the field.

“A candidate should be working both sides of the fence,” says Radzely, who recommends working with recruiters while also conducting an independent job search. He warns about signing on with too many recruiters at once, though. “If an employer sees the same resume from three different recruiters, they might think the candidate is desperate.”

When using the Internet as an employment resource, be aware that posting your resume on the Web means that anyone can view it—including your present employer. Also, do not call attention to your personal Web site if it might be controversial. Hopkins warns that whatever you place on a Web site reflects on your brand and your image.

Make Contact
Once your personal marketing material is ready to go, the next step is to make contact with a potential employer.

If you are looking for a job in the local market, both Hopkins and Miranda agree there is no better way to contact an employer than to deliver your resume in person. “When delivering the resume, remember to dress just as professionally as if you were going on the interview,” Hopkins says.

Miranda says that Jackson Memorial Hospital, one of the nation’s busiest hospitals, employs 18 technicians in the biomedical engineering department and has a specific procedure for writing and posting job descriptions. Positions are advertised in the newspaper and on the Web, but Miranda accepts walk-in applications and keeps them on file.

Hopkins suggests that candidates deliver the resume physically “to the shop” rather than leaving it with the human resources (HR) department of a hospital, where it may get lost.

Sealing the Deal
Getting your resume into the right hands and getting a callback is an important first step to getting the job you want. The next step is to make a good impression.

Dress for Success
“Hospitals are professional environments, and while biomeds are technicians, they should look and act professional,” Hopkins says. “To gain respect, you have to look the part.” In other words, for most biomedical engineering departments, professional looks matter—both before and after you land the job.

 Simon Miranda (left) of Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, speaks with his administrator, Roy Gallegos.

Hopkins recommends that men wear to an interview a full suit and tie—well-pressed with a dress belt and shined shoes. Women should wear a two-piece matched suit, he says, adding that tailored pants suits are appropriate for women, but they should be creased and tailored, not tight or flowing. Hopkins’ firm advises clients that their skirt should cover their thighs when seated.

Navy, dark gray, brown, and black are safe colors for men or women. Either sex should wear only professional-looking accessories and and not overdo the cologne or perfume. Again, Hopkins reminds his clients that the industry is conservative. “Usually, it is better to dress up,” he says, “depending on the corporate culture.”

Miranda prefers a suit, but he recommends at least dress pants and a tie for men, and dress pants or a conservative dress for women. “The first impression is everything,” he says. “Look neat and presentable.”

Employers favor candidates who are well-groomed, have trimmed hair, and don’t call negative attention to themselves by their looks—“Certain things are not considered the way you dress for work,” Radzley says. While employers may not legally prohibit piercings or distractive hairstyles, Radzlely and others admit they will not increase a candidate’s chances of getting hired.

Beat the Butterfly Blues
The job interview may be the most stressful part of the marketing plan. Remind yourself that the employer has expressed interest in you by calling you back, so the interview is a positive step. When introduced, shake hands firmly, maintain eye contact, and smile warmly. “Be confident in yourself,” Miranda says. “If you have confidence in your abilities, you won’t get too nervous.”

Hopkins advises that you research the company beforehand to show that you are genuinely interested. Hopkins also advises that you practice mock interviews so you will feel well-prepared.

The Dirty Dozen—
12 Ways NOT to Get the Job

Some biomeds seem content to linger in lower-level positions forever. If you’re one of those people, you might want to take some of the following advice, compiled from true tales of foolish tactics biomeds have used to successfully not get the job.

1. Don’t put your phone number on your resume. That way, an employer can’t contact you and you can’t possibly get called in for an interview.

2. Include on your resume an inappropriate personal email address such as sex_thing@whateversite.com or trashtalker@myWebsite.com. You also can create your own Web site with dirty jokes and obscene pictures, and list that on your resume.

3. Type your resume and cover letter using an antique typewriter; make sure the ribbon is worn out, and tighten up the tension on the period key so it makes holes in the paper every time you end a sentence. Make sure to make spelling and grammatical mistakes, including spelling your interviewer’s name wrong in your cover letter.

4. Change your answering machine to something really clever, like a 2 Live Crew song with colorful language so that potential employers can hear how creative you are when they call you to schedule an interview.

5. Show up to the interview wearing a suit jacket, but with only a white T-shirt underneath and dress shoes with no socks. Tie-died shirts and sandals are another good alternative.

6. Come to the interview chewing gum or tobacco, or wearing your tongue piercing.

7. Annoy the receptionist or office assistant by being obnoxious and overbearing, and by demanding to see the interviewer immediately.

8. Show up late for the interview and keep everyone waiting.

9. Before the interviewer greets you, ask about how much the job pays.

10. Insult and badmouth your previous employer. This works even better if your former boss is a friend of the person with whom you’re currently interviewing.

11. Cultivate an annoying habit to use during the interview—something like clicking your pen, picking at your nose, looking up at the ceiling and counting the number of tiles, or tying a paper clip into creative shapes while you’re talking.

12. Snoop around the interviewer’s office during the interview, and see if you can read any confidential memos or the notes being taken about you during the interview. You might have to lean forward over the desk during the questioning, but the results are well worth it. The interview won’t take very long, and you won’t be offered the job.

—JAA

Be Real
During the interview, remember that you are “selling yourself.” Miranda recommends a somewhat relaxed position with hands free. Maintain eye contact, and avoid looking down at the floor or up at the ceiling.

Hopkins advises his clients to be mentally prepared for anything, and to be real, not “canned.” “If you click and the chemistry’s right, you’ll do well,” he says. “Consider not just what you say, but how you say it. Biomeds need to demonstrate good customer-service skills.”

Radzely says to “be honest.” “Reference checks have become very important in our industry,” he says. “Be accurate in listing dates of employment. A job offer can be pulled if references don’t match.”

Bowles urges candidates to “be enthusiastic.” “That is the number one quality I hear about from on-campus recruiters. They have passed over a more qualified candidate for someone who was more enthusiastic.”

Interviewers in the biomed field tend to ask simple questions rather than tricky ones. Miranda says he likes to ask some technical questions to gauge a candidate’s knowledge of specific pieces of equipment, preventive maintenance, or government agencies, for example. His favorite question for applicants is, “ ‘What do you expect from me as your manager?’ I can learn a lot from that,” he says.

Hopkins urges candidates to be clear but brief. “ ‘Tell me about yourself’ does not mean [an interviewer] wants your life story. Be specific in linking your qualifications to the job for which you are applying, and don’t take the bait for a negative question,” Hopkins says. “Always turn a negative into a positive, and do not badmouth past employers.”

Hopkins, Miranda, and Radzely agree that compensation issues should not be addressed until the appropriate time—when and if an offer is made.

If an employer asks if you have any questions, Hopkins recommends that you use the question as an opportunity to ask the interviewer, “When can I expect to hear from you again?” This communicates enthusiasm.

Follow Up Promptly
After the interview, follow up with a brief, handwritten thank you note. Hopkins and Radzely warn candidates not to become a nuisance, though.

Career Advancement
Landing a job is only the beginning, of course, and advancement is a lifelong process. There are some things you can do to make yourself noticed and be promoted.

“I always advanced by what I learned and how I put it to use,” says Radzely, who adds that most companies prefer to promote from within rather than look to the outside. “They come to me for candidates when they don’t have someone ready in-house,” he says. He suggests volunteering for extra things and making it known to your supervisor when you would like to take on more responsibility.

“If someone else is promoted, or if your company hires from the outside, ask what you can do the next time a promotion is offered and how your company can help you get there. The company has to help prepare you,” Radzely says.

Hopkins also advises taking on more responsibility, such as attending safety and planning meetings, and communicating new ideas to supervisors in writing.

“Become visible in the hospital by making rounds if you are not already,” he says. “You will be noticed and appreciated by department heads and directors. It shows the hospital staff you are willing to go the extra step and are there for them.”

Specialized manufacturer’s training on equipment is a “big plus,” according to Hopkins. Both he and Radzely recommend imaging training.

Hopkins suggests taking business classes, especially if you are considering breaking into management. He recommends taking classes to help with weak points, such as networking or basic computer skills. Obtaining certification also can be an advantage.

Hopkins also recommends attending conferences and seminars—paying for them yourself, if necessary. He encourages his clients to present at conferences.

Finally, save all of your documentation. Hopkins advises keeping performance appraisals and recommendation letters in the same file.

Keep Up the Good Work!
Making a “brand” name for yourself takes time, energy, and effort—it doesn’t happen by chance. Landing the job is just the beginning. Deliver on your promises. Continue to upgrade your training, appear and act professionally, and remain reliable and trustworthy, just like the names branded on your finest pieces of equipment. Your brand—your name—can be your most valuable asset, one that can give you an advantage and offer future opportunities. 24×7

James Arthur Anderson is a contributing writer for 24×7.