Maximizing Your Career Potential during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Pam Barker, RELIA Solutions

I have been asked the same question many times these past few months; what is the job outlook for histology? The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented time in our lives. Since I am not an economist or statistician and don’t have a crystal ball, I really don’t know. What I can tell you about is what we have seen this year and what I know from past experience of similar economic times and advise you on how to maximize your career potential.

There is still a shortage of histotechs nationwide, but the difference is in the sense of urgency in getting them filled. It seems that facilities are not in as great a hurry to fill jobs now and combined with things like the lack of travel assignments forcing travel temps to take permanent jobs, we are seeing a lot more competition for available jobs.

I would say that up until the spring of this year when the Coronavirus hit, if a histotech was job hunting they usually had several positions to choose from and once this crisis ends the jobs will be plentiful once again.

Here are a few things to consider when looking for a new position today.

What is your current situation?

  • If you are currently working whatever you do, don’t leave your current position until you have secured a new one. It is always easier to find a job when you already have one. Employers perceive you as more valuable if you are working.

  • If you have been laid off or are between jobs take a PRN or Pool position; there seem to be a great many on call jobs available. This is the route that a lot of facilities are taking in lieu of hiring full time employees. You will probably get more hours than you would think, your skills will remain sharp and you will be able to tell prospective employers that you are working which would alleviate concerns about whether you have current experience.

Certifications and Licenses:

  • If you aren’t already ASCP certified, get certified. If you have been thinking about getting your HTL or QIHC go for it. If you are considering moving to an area requiring a state license, get it. That way when the right position for you comes along you will be qualified, competitive and ready to start work.

Getting a New Position

Today you really have to go after the job you want. The best way to do that is to be aware and be prepared.

  • Be aware by networking with people in your field and at other labs that might know of new positions. A lot of jobs are being filled by word of mouth these days. More than ever before employers can’t afford to make hiring mistakes and are eager to hire someone that somebody in their lab can vouch for.

  • Be prepared by evaluating the reasons you want to leave your current job for a new one. HR representatives don’t want to hear that you want more money or you don’t like your supervisor. They want to hear things like I want to relocate to be closer to my family and/or friends or I want more responsibility.

  • Make sure that your references are in order, and I can’t stress this enough. Just because you did a great job and they really liked you doesn’t necessarily mean that a former employer is prepared to give you a good reference. All you have to do is make a courtesy call to that former employer and ask them to allow you to use them as a reference. As a general rule I suggest that if it has been more than a month since you have spoken to them, call and give them a heads up that they will be hearing from someone wanting to check your reference.

A Final Note – Beware of Desperate Recruiters!

When I started working exclusively in histology recruitment 7 years ago, I was pretty much the only recruiter working exclusively in permanent placement of histotechs. There were travel companies who also placed histotechs in permanent and temp to permanent positions. In the past few months however, I have seen a huge increase in the number of recruiters trying to fill histology positions. While I am sure you can imagine the problems that might present for me as far as competition, I am sure you never anticipated the problem that you as histotechs and I as a histology recruiter would have in common when dealing with these other recruiters particularly the desperate ones. I want to warn you about the potential problem and offer a simple solution:

Problem: Resume Submittals

  • A lot of recruiters feel that it is perfectly ok to take your resume and send it to their client and not tell you who the facility is until the client requests an interview. This can be a problem in a number of ways. The most common problem with this is that if you have already sent your resume to that facility or had given another recruiter permission to represent you there, many human resource departments will simply discard your resume because they don’t want the hassle of dealing with a potential conflict with a recruiting firm when you have already sent your resume or the potential conflict of dealing with 2 recruiters fighting over “rights” to your candidacy.

  • I have also heard horror stories about recruiters sending candidates resumes to their current employers or labs that are affiliated with their current employers. What a great way for your boss to find out that you are looking!

Solution: Control your resume and the relationship you have with recruiters!

  • This is so much easier than it sounds. All you have to do is keep good records of where and when you have sent your resume and insist that the recruiters you are working with tell you where they want to represent you before they send your resume. If you encounter resistance or they only want to tell you the areas where the facilities are located then don’t, I repeat don’t work with that recruiter.

The relationship between a recruiter and a candidate should be built on trust. If you are going to give them all the personal information that you give to a recruiter in an interview and on your resume, isn’t it the least they can do to tell you where they want to send your resume?

In conclusion while I didn’t quote statistics or leading economic indicators or labor market trends, I hope that this article has helped you in maximizing your career potential now and in the future.

The most important piece of advice I can give you now is: To stay positive, live in the moment, and plan ahead!

Stay safe and well.



Pam Barker is a recruiting professional with over 25 years of experience and the President of RELIA Solutions a national permanent placement firm specializing in the Histology profession.

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