The Simple Guide to Jobs After Physical Therapy School

Mar 28, 2019
8 min read
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The simple guide that takes you through everything from choosing a setting, to resume writing, job searching, and negotiating salary.

The Job Search 🙈

Searching for physical therapy jobs doesn't begin where you think it does. In this ebook, learn where to search for jobs that others don't and learn how and why to network.

The Resume 🚨

Your resume is probably not as good as you think! Everyone has a resume. You should have an EXCEPTIONAL resume to land your dream physical therapy job.

The Interview 🤦‍♂️

New grad PTs forget how important it is to talk about revenue, growth, and performance in a physical therapy job interview.

The Negotiation 🤝

So you got offered less compensation than you think you are worth? We'll tell you how to negotiate like a pro!

Get the best physical therapy job, not just any job!

“A career is an incredible journey and the first moments can only be experienced once. The time after graduation was an emotional roller coaster and I did not feel I was prepared for it. The truth is we get a fantastic clinical education in school, and then the guidance stops which is why I wrote this ebook. Have fun, and embrace the journey from student to clinician!”

Would you ever consider putting the same amount of effort that you put into studying for the NPTE into finding your first physical therapy job? Most people wouldn't approach it with the same tenacity, but you should.

One commonly overlooked step in landing your dream physical therapy job is networking.

If you've graduated from physical therapy school and passed boards, chances are you are a more than competent and capable clinician. One thing that can really separate you from the competition is your network.

We live in a world of people, and it’s those people that hold the keys to the kingdom. While we could dedicate an entire ebook to networking, for now, read Shante Cofield’s PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS article on networking. It will give you a background on where to begin. After you've done that, read why Mark Denesha connected with Kelly Starrett as a new graduate and what that did for his career.

One of the next first steps in the physical therapy job search after you've selected a physical therapy job setting is building a solid resume.

Recruiters and hiring managers spend an average of 15 seconds (some studies say 8 seconds) sifting through resumes’ so you need to convey your value, and what sets you apart in the opening sentence.

A resume is usually a 1-page document that summarizes your credentials:

  • Education
  • Work history
  • Accomplishments
  • Skills

Be careful not to confuse this for a CV (or curriculum vitae) which contains the same information, but is a chronicle of your entire experience, and may be several pages in length. It can be challenging deciding on what and what not to include in a resume. Here is a good place to get started.

Overwhelmed yet? Don't worry, we cover all the details in the ebook which you can download here! 📕

As you begin writing your resume, here are some things to consider.

  • Contact Information: A mailing address is typically not needed anymore, nor are multiple contact numbers. You should have a professional email address by this point!
  • Education: Schools attended, location, graduation year, degree obtained, concentration (GPA can be left out unless you are a new graduate and your GPA was truly exceptional).
  • Work Experience: Employer name, location, dates worked, title and description of duties.
  • Clinical experience: Clinic name, location, dates and care provided (this section can be very important depending on the potential employer). This could be a good place to highlight specialty externships and residencies outside of your primary care experience.
  • Organization Memberships and Leadership Roles: Include membership and roles in physical therapy societies, clubs or groups that demonstrate your initiative and experience.
  • Honors / Awards: Here you can include scholarships, grants, certificates, and other special honors that have been publicly recognized.
  • Additional Skills
    • Languages
    • Additional certifications aside from your license. (Business degrees, etc.)

This is an excellent article highlighting the most common mistakes and items to remove from your resume. Need some help with cover letters? We have an article with a downloadable sample cover letter you can use!

Formatting and targeting your resume is a critical step in having a successful resume. To find out more, download the eBook! 📕

The Search for Physical Therapy Jobs

After you've applied for a physical therapy job (don't worry, the ebook will tell you where to look and what resources to utilize) and been looked at favorably by the employer, chances are you will be invited in for an interview!

Interviewing just might be the most important part of the job search. You could be the smartest clinician on the planet, but if you lack social skills, a potential employer might be inclined to overlook you for a job.

Top Social Skills

  • Keeping things friendly, but still acting professionally
  • Ability to pick up on subtleties in body language and voice tone
  • Creating a personal vibe and professional vibe
  • Portraying cultural adeptness without stating it explicitly
  • Changing your tone and language to match the person you are speaking to
  • Using the right terminology

Interviewee Top Qualities

  • Iterates key points backed by examples
  • Can utilize voice tone and modulation to convey emotion and feeling
  • Uses body language, rather than words, to be expressive
  • Can share quick, exciting stories to back up experiences
  • Can talk about what they want to bring to a job, beyond just filling requirements
  • Can connect to an interviewer on a deeper level with questions as to why and not just about how
  • Lets answers come organically rather than worrying about rehearsing answers
  • Is extremely expressive and not monotonous

Hang on! We can't give you all the gems right now... To learn more great social skills, interviewee qualities, dress code, and questions to ask, and MAJOR mistakes to avoid, just download the ebook at the bottom of this page! 👍

So you've put together that resume, interviewed, and finally received an offer. Now it's time to understand your contract and negotiate!

This step isn't always the most clear-cut in the physical therapy job search. Your offer might have everything want and you may be completely satisfied already. Your offer might be nearly perfect and you may just want to iron out a few small details, or your offer might make take your breath away in a bad way! 😱

If the latter is the case, it might be time to prepare for some serious negotiation!

Negotiating Your Physical Therapy Job

Here are some important details to pay attention to while you look over your contract:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Performance Plan / Bonuses, and how this will be tracked
  • Malpractice Insurance
  • Continuing Education Allowance
  • Time Off
  • Hours
  • Employee Status vs Independent Contractor

When you start that negotiation though, remember that this is just a partial list of the costs incurred by your employer:

  • base salary
  • health insurance
  • increased liability insurance • taxes
  • social security
  • worker’s comp
  • vacation coverage
  • 401k
  • increased support staff
  • documentation charges
  • and the list goes on

That means whatever you are offered as compensation has a nice chunk of extra cost to the employer added on top. When hiring, some employers factor in 1.6x your base salary as a true cost to them. Therefore, a therapist wanting a salary of $35/hour would cost $56/hour. Therefore, when you go in there with intentions of asking for more money, you need to keep this in mind. The question becomes, how can you convey and convince your employer that these added costs are worth it?

The negotiation is an opportunity to show the value you can bring to your employer. When it comes to negotiating salary, you'll need to understand if it is fair and coincides with the market value in your area. One way to find out is ask local colleagues and classmates where they fall in terms of compensation.

If your salary is below expectations, then you'll either have to accept it, or negotiate it immediately. Do NOT WAIT to negotiate.

If you want our top tips on exactly how to squeeze out that extra $5-10K in compensation, then stop reading and start downloading! Everything you want is in the eBook! 👩‍💻

🕵️‍♀️ The Physical Therapy Job Search

  • Finding jobs
  • Setting career and life goals
  • When to search
  • How to search
  • How and why to network

📄 The Physical Therapy Resume

  • Writing an effective resume
  • What you should include
  • How to stand out
  • Ways to convey your value
  • How to tailor your resume for a specific job

💬 The Interview

  • Skills of top candidates
  • Important social skills to work on
  • Top qualities of the best candidates
  • Biggest mistakes to avoid
  • How to develop confidence

🤝 Negotiating Your Offer

  • Closing the deal
  • Understanding employment costs
  • How to get what you’re worth
  • How much is too much to ask for
  • Understanding private vs public institutions

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About Brett Kestenbaum

As a physical therapist myself, I understand the general struggles of life after graduation, and the importance of focused attention on our patients. As Chief Operating Officer at CovalentCareers, I am afforded the opportunity to connect with thousands of physical therapists around the country. My goal is to improve the accessibility of information and careers for healthcare practitioners. Feel free to message me at any time! Always happy to connect.