Taking the next step after graduating

A road map from becoming a newly graduated occupational therapist to employment

For most OT graduates, their first job plays an integral role in shaping and positioning them into the Occupational Therapist they see themselves being in the future. By creating avenues for new opportunities it can lead to you having a long and satisfying career within the industry.

Yet like all good things, nothing comes easy and without a little work. Once you have passed that big hurdle of obtaining your degree, the obvious next step is identifying what type of job you want as well as determining the pathway of obtaining this with the opportunities that are available.

While this may seem like you’re being thrown into the deep end, there are a few important steps you can take to kickstart your career on the right path!

Creating your Resume

With all good careers, it all starts with creating an effective resume. Writing a new resume from scratch may seem a little bit daunting. You might be thinking “I’m a new graduate, I don’t have any experience!”.

An important part when applying for jobs is to tailor every application individually to suit the specific job you are applying for. Put some thought into the position description and selection criteria. The key focus for all graduates should be leveraging knowledge from your clinical placements and any internship/voluntary roles you may have had.

If you’re struggling to get the ball rolling, please watch this short video by my colleague Christian Sagun providing some additional resume writing tips!

The Job Search

Prior to commencing your job search, you should begin by taking time to first consider what your goals and career aspirations are. Getting an understanding of the nature of the job you are looking for is an integral part of job hunting. This will help your goal setting and helpful in foreseeing your career progression.

Every setting within Occupational Therapy is unique and offers very different environments. Creating a pro and cons list of each sector of OT, also taking into account details such as remuneration, patient load, and resources can help you assess which sector may be right for you.

If you are still having a hard time deciding which setting you wish to work in, I recommend gaining insight from a friend or family member within the industry. Another option would be to seek out information from recruitment agencies to gauge current opportunities and the nature of the given market. Consultants at ACM Healthcare can help you on this journey so feel free to contact us if you would like to speak to one of our consultants!

Job sites that can aid in your job search include Seek, Career One, Indeed, local health districts job boards and Linkedin. By subscribing to these websites, you can keep yourself updated on new job vacancies on the market. This will also ensure that you can apply or shortlist potential positions that are relevant to you.

My advice for new graduates struggling to find positions would be to have an open mind and to not be afraid to experience different OT settings. Just because you may not be suited for a particular role this does not mean there isn’t a way to get to where you want. Sometimes it just means you should take a different route.

Contacting potential employers

Picking the phone up and contacting potential employers can be an intimidating experience. By having a plan and writing down exactly what you want to know/ask prior to phoning can minimize nerves and instill confidence. This will also ensure you cover everything you want with the employer and that you are well prepared. Another great tip would be to have a pen and paper in front of you to jot down quick notes and your resume handy to refer to your experiences.

Interview process

Interviews can be a very daunting experience. I’ve come across a great example of an OT sharing her previous experiences as a newly graduated OT entering the job market:

“Since starting the job application process in my new town I have applied for 3 positions. From that, I received the opportunity to have an interview at a local organisation as an Occupational Therapist. This was a daunting and new experience for me. Majority of the questions I was asked were behavioural questions providing me with the opportunity to demonstrate my key strengths and capabilities. I was also asked a case study scenario to discuss the process of my professional practice including assessments and interventions I would utilise. In preparing for this interview I thoroughly researched the organisation including their values and mission statements. I also created a list of questions that I foresaw being asked in the interview and wrote down the answers I would like to give. This allowed me to put my thoughts on paper and practice articulating my skills and knowledge in response to behavioural questions. Another thing that helped me throughout this process was practicing interview questions with a friend to familiarise myself with thinking on the spot. Following this interview, I was unsuccessful due to another candidate having extensive experience in the field. I did, however, receive excellent positive feedback about my performance in the interview. This was another crucial aspect of the interviewing process to gain feedback for future job prospects. I now feel confident and well prepared for future interviews and know to be fully prepared prior to the interview.”

This is a great example of how to tackle any interview.

Christian Sagun also has a video with more interview tips to help you in your process.

For any more information or tips to finding the right Job for you, please feel free to get in contact josh@acmhealthcare.com.au