A question that comes up often for anyone completing their education or transitioning to a new allied health career is how to get that FIRST job.
Even though there is no “one right way” to land that first job, we’ve pulled together some strategies and actions you can take to demonstrate that you’re the right fit for the job you’re applying for.
Look closely at the experience you DO have
It’s easy to get so caught up in the experience you’re missing that you forget to highlight the experience you DO have. Take a deep look at the experience you’ve had — even if it was in a different industry. Then identify how it ties to the allied health role you’re seeking.
For example, you can highlight the customer service and problem solving skills you developed at a previous job and how it relates to helping patients.
You can also look back on your training program or education.
- Did you ever serve as the leader of a small group project?
- How did you help coordinate in the classes you took?
Translate that into the description in your resume. If you had an externship or apprentice or shadowing opportunity through your school, that counts as experience! Make sure it makes it onto your resume.
Make your search broad enough
There are a lot of job titles in healthcare. Some of them will be the exact job title you imagined but more often it will be a slight variation.
Be sure you aren’t limiting yourself only to one specific job title. Go to our guide to job titles to get some help expanding your search based on your certification.
Job titles are just one place to broaden your search. Another is job requirements.
Don’t take yourself out of the running just because you don’t meet 100% of all the requirements in the job listing. However, be reasonable and use your best judgment.
If a job description says they’re looking for someone with 10+ years of experience as a pharmacy technician and this will be your first job in the healthcare industry, then that job is probably too much of a stretch.
But if a job listing says something like “one year of medical office experience preferred” and you have an 8-week externship plus a year of work study during your training program — that’s not much of a stretch and it’s worth applying. Plus, you’re going to wow them in the interview.
Adjust your approach for each job listing
You can help the hiring manager (and yourself) by reworking your resume to highlight the skills they are looking for.
Instead of sending out the exact same resume, or listing skills in an application the same way for each organization you apply for, take a good look at each specific job description. If you have a short work history this is especially important.
Use the job description to create a bullet-point list of skills on your resume (as long as they are your actual skills — Don’t make things up!).
The language in the job description is most likely the language the hiring manager is looking for when they’re skimming through resumes. Using some of the same language can help your application catch their attention.
Start with your network
The word “network” can seem intimidating or even confusing, but keep it simple. Your network is just the people you know — who know people you don’t know yet.
Do you have friends already working in the profession? Let them know you’re looking for a job and ask if they will keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities.
Your network also includes your teachers. Ask them if they can introduce you to anyone working in your desired profession who could connect you to job opportunities.
You can even use your network to double check your work as you apply. Ask your friend or family member to carefully read your resume or application to make sure it’s free of typos. Or ask them to practice some interview questions with you.
The stronger your network, the better. Grow your network by attending local events and groups relevant to the profession you’re interested in or pursuing volunteer opportunities that can add to your experience and help you meet new people.
And then of course, there’s your social media networks. Make sure your profiles are professional and friendly to potential employers. Create or update your LinkedIn account, which is essentially your online resume and a place where you can connect with other professionals in your field. And steer clear of these social media mistakes.
Remember you’re just getting started
The process to apply, interview, maybe interview again, etc., can take a long time … even if you get the very first job you apply for. So be patient and compassionate with yourself. Do what you can and think hard about ways you can improve your chances.
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