For most of us, searching for a new job is both stressful and exhausting. The endless applications, resume writing, interviews, and anxiety waiting to find out if you landed the position.
The whole process is especially challenging for recent graduates, who are often starting a new career and don't have much prior work experience in their field.
This is where Kelley Khemiri comes to the rescue. Kelley is Herzing's Career Development Specialist and she also teaches our Medical Office Assistant program.
Kelley has over 14 years experience in medical office administration. She knows exactly what employers look for when hiring MOAs. Many companies contact her directly when jobs open up, so she can recommend graduates from our MOA program.
She prepares students for interviews, helps them write professional resumes, and coaches them on how to impress employers.
In a nutshell, Kelley ensures our MOA grads have a competitive edge when applying for jobs. So we asked her to share some of her "expert tips" for getting hired as a medical office assistant.
These are her top recommendations.
Preparing your Medical Office Assistant Resume
When you apply for a medical office job, your resume is the first thing the employer sees. This is "round one" of the candidate-elimination process. The hiring manager will quickly scan your resume, looking for the keywords, experience, and training that match what they're looking for.
If the resume doesn't impress, it goes straight into the garbage, and you don't get called in for an interview.
If you want to make it to the interview round, ensure your MOA resume meets the following criteria:
☑️ Use a simple format. Stay away from decorative fonts, extra graphics, or complicated templates. At Herzing, we help all MOA students prepare a professional resume before they graduate, using a simple format that is easy to read.
☑️ Check spelling and grammar. Ask someone you trust to proofread your resume. Spelling and grammar errors make you look unprofessional, and can immediately disqualify you for the job.
☑️ Strong focus on MOA-related skills. Don’t have much healthcare work experience? Consider how skills from your other jobs apply to the MOA role.
Traits like communication, organization, time-management, and computer skills are highly relevant to MOA jobs...so be sure to highlight them on your resume.
☑️ Include keywords from the MOA job posting. Does the posting highlight medical terminology, scheduling software, billing, time management, and a friendly attitude? What skills does the employer say you need for this job?
Make sure you include those specific keywords when listing your skills on your resume. This will change a little for each job you apply to, so read the job post carefully! Customize your resume for each application.
☑️ Emphasize your medical office assistant training. List the clinical skills, hands-on experience, and theory you learned in college. This is especially important if you have little or no prior healthcare experience, and are trying to land your very first MOA job.
☑️ Don’t forget your internship. Don’t assume the employer knows you did an internship with your medical office assistant program. You need to state where you completed the practicum, for how long, and what responsibilities you had.
Kelley says highlighting real MOA experience is key, and something many new graduates forget to do.
“Always update your resume with your practicum experience; this is crucial. Future employers want to know where you completed your training and what you have learned. This is something new graduates often overlook.”
Searching for medical office assistant jobs
Once your resume and cover letter is complete, you’re ready to apply for MOA jobs. At Herzing, we have a really great career development team (including Kelley) that helps Medical Office Assistant students with this process.
We show you how to search for jobs online, and we send your resume to employers who often hire our students. But, there are important steps you can take on your own, to increase your chances of finding the perfect position.
Your first step is to create a profile on a major job-search site, like Indeed. Kelley says you should also create an account on the Career Opportunities page of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) website.
“Indeed is a great resource for job searching as it pools all of the potential position listings from all sources. Create a profile and upload your resume. And don’t forget to create an account on the WRHA website. By using these tools, your job search should be abundant!”
Getting ready for MOA job interviews
You make it past the resume round and get called in for a job interview. Congratulations! Now, what can you expect to talk about during the interview? How can you stand out and impress the employer?
In general, you can expect to discuss your prior experience and training, and what makes you an ideal person for the role.
It’s also a good idea to do some research on the organization (hospital, private clinic, etc.) so you understand what services they provide, their mission, how they are unique, and why you'd love to work there.
During the interview, Kelley recommends you highlight your technical skills and personal strengths, to show you’d make a great team member.
“Employers are looking for the right “fit”, so show your personality! Be sure to point out your proficiency in Accuro, clinical skills, and how your education and practicum has prepared you. Highlight how you handle stressful situations and a busy environment, and how you work with a team. These are key elements for a positive MOA interview.”
Impressing your employer during the probation period
Medical office assistant jobs always start with a probation period. During this time, the employer is testing your skills and confirming you are the right fit for the job.
What are some mistakes to avoid while you’re on probation? What is your employer looking for? According to Kelley, things like calling in sick, arriving late, and having a negative attitude can be major deal-breakers.
“During the probation period, be mindful of your absences, requesting time off, and being on time. These are all things that are closely monitored. The employer is also watching how you're progressing with learning new tasks, your communication with colleagues, and overall attitude at work.”
Choosing a good Medical Office Assistant program
Quality Medical Office Assistant training is your first step to finding a great job. A good program teaches the clinical, computer, administrative, and communication skills you need to stand out and get hired.
Don't have any medical office experience? A program with an internship is extremely valuable to help you transition into the field. Employers want people who have worked in a real healthcare setting, and are prepared for the challenges of this role.
Kelley says Herzing's program is always updated to meet the needs of employers and ensure our graduates get hired.
"At Herzing, we are constantly working hard to improve our Medical Office Assistant program. We recently added more courses in Medical Billing, Law and Ethics, and Business Communications. We also added certificates in Mental Health and CPR, and extended our internship to 6 weeks (instead of 4). These improvements allow our students to qualify for more job opportunities after graduation."
The good news? You can complete a Medical Office Assistant diploma quickly. At Herzing, our MOA program is just 12 months long, including the 6-week internship. The program is currently available online, with lab work done on campus.
For a closer look, read our interview with Kelley Khemiri on what to expect in class: Meet Kelley, Your Expert Guide to our Medical Office Assistant Program
Or, click below to explore the MOA program and chat live with an advisor. We’re here to help!