It’s never too early to start searching for your first job after graduation. Here are my recommendations of how to approach the job search process.
All new graduates exhibit “entry level" competency. Your intangible skills are what make YOU different from your peers (i.e. personality, special interests, leadership involvements, specialized clinical training, adaptability, etc.). Be a leader. Join clubs, volunteer, attend conferences, do a residency, perform research!
By going above and beyond, you can demonstrate why you very valuable asset to any practice. Find something you’re passionate about - that makes you different - and stick with it!
Do some soul searching and ask yourself the following questions:
- What practice setting are you interested in?
- Where do you desire to practice?
- Do you have a goal of being a partner/owner?
- Are certain sub-specialties in need?
- Who will be your competition?
- How can you differentiate yourself in the marketplace?
- What will your scope of practice be?
- Do you want to work full or part time?
Furthermore, if you plan on visiting a practice you’re interested in joining, research the doctors, staff and practice to learn about what makes them unique. Be prepared to explain why they should consider you for their practice - what makes you special!
Utilize online resources
For obvious reasons, update your Facebook page and privacy settings. Establish a LinkedIn profile, post your resume on AOA's Career Center and search the many job databases available through your school and state association. Even some industry partners have their own job listings. There are a number of great, new graduate resources to help you locate the right opportunity. Use them to your advantage!
Make a list of what you feel is most important in a job (ie. flexibility, earning potential, room for growth, practice modality, location, benefits, specialties, prestige, etc.). Understand there usually is some give and take during this journey. For example, many "desirable" practice locations come with more competition and less flexible starting incomes, benefits and hours.
Although this seems self-explanatory, I’ve heard numerous interview horror stories. Wear professional attire. Shower. Shave. Show up on time. Put your cell phone away. Pay attention. Don’t get cute.
Say thank you
Interviewing is a process which takes time, energy and planning. Be sure to send a thoughtful letter or email thanking your interviewer for their time. In today’s chaotic world, a little appreciation goes a long way!
If you know where you’re interested in practicing, reach out to the ODs in that area and introduce yourself. Find a couple of doctors that you connect with and utilize them as mentors. Make sure to check in periodically - ask for advice and find time to visit their practice! You’re more likely to land the opportunity of your dreams if you take the time to build strong relationships as a student!
Ignore your intuition
Your gut instinct is a powerful thing. If you have a positive or negative feeling about an opportunity, factor that into the equation. Trust your intuition and great things will happen!
Proof read all forms of communications (emails, resumes and all other documents sent out during your job search). Spelling errors and poor grammar are an easy way to eliminate a potential job candidate.
You’re going to have good and bad experiences during your initial job search. If you have a negative experience, bite your tongue, swallow your pride and put it behind you. If you haven’t discovered this already, the world of optometry is very small. The last thing you want is to tarnish your professional name before your career even starts.
Yes, you’ve worked your tail off to get to this point. However, keep in mind, so did everyone else! As a new OD, don't ask for the world when it comes to a compensation package and be respectful throughout this process.
Searching for a job can be an exciting yet nerve wracking experience. Enjoy the process and follow these guidelines to help land your first job as an optometrist! :)
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