As a new professional, navigating career development and management can be overwhelming and confusing. First, know that you are not alone. From negotiating and accepting your first position, to making a career move, the APTA and the NCPTA EPSIG are here to help.
Polish Your Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
If you were to Google “resume template,” “how to create the perfect resume,” or something to that effect, you would get hundreds of versions, thoughts, opinions, and more about the “Right” way to do it. Often, different employers even want different formats. Or job application websites have you input your resume directly into an application instead of uploading it. Ultimately, your goal is to have a document that accurately reflects you as a professional, is clean and concise, and can be relatively adaptable as your experience and the position you are applying for changes.
Some general advice:
- Provide your contact information.
- Highlight your skills. Whether this is at the top as most templates suggest, or is highlighted as key achievements within your employment history, make sure you are clear about why you are a good fit for a job.
- Include your clinical rotation and work experience with pertinent information, including name, your title, dates, bullet points with concrete information that describe your key accomplishments and responsibilities. Ensure there is a clear timeline and no large glaring gaps in employment. If so, make sure you are prepared to explain those gaps.
- Include your degrees and certifications.
- Include the extras that will make you stand out from your colleagues, such as clubs/organizations, volunteer experience, awards you’ve won, research
- Keep it concise. Some advice states to limit your resume to only one page, and to keep your CV to no more than two. Some of this will be dependent on how long you’ve been in the workforce, how involved you are, etc. Bottom line, don’t include extraneous information, get to the point.
- Check your spelling, grammar, and formatting. And then have someone else check it for you.
If you want more specifics about a resume or CV, here are some resources to review:
- The APTA has a template for a Curriculum Vitae on their Career Management webpage, however, it is quite lengthy!
- Indeed’s New Graduate’s Guide to Job Search Resume Guide
Find the Right Job
There are several avenues to search for a PT/PTA position. This is not an exhaustive list, but is a good starting point.
- APTA Red Hot Jobs on the APTA’s Career Center is THE resource for physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and physical therapy students! With thousands of RED HOT jobs, multiple search options, specialized features, and extensive and highly specialized physical therapy career development, you’ll find everything you need for a successful career search!
- NCPTA Career Center is a website where North Carolina PTs and PTAs can post resumes, search for jobs, and browse career resources to help with networking, resume writing, and career growth.
- LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. We recommend looking into creating a LinkedIn profile. This allows you to network digitally and get yourself out there professionally. It also allows you a clear avenue to separate your Facebook or Twitter presence with a professional identity. It also helps match you with potential employers looking for employees, or gives you a platform to search out new positions on your own.
- Indeed is a general, free international job site that caters primarily to job seekers. This site allows applicants to search for jobs, post resumes, and research companies.
- GlassDoor “offers millions of the latest job listings, combined with a growing database of company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.
So you have found THE job, or several jobs that you are interested in. You receive a call or email offering you an interview. Now what?
Some general advice:
- Research the clinic, company, etc which will help you frame your experience and answers, but also so that you can come prepared with specific questions.
- Be honest, be yourself. Share your passion, your enthusiasm for your area of interest.
- Self reflect so that your answers are genuine. When you are asked “stock” questions, like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” you will be able to give authentic answers rather than buzz-words.
- Practice. Often. See interview questions link below.
- Dress appropriately. Present yourself professionally.
- Have a printed copy of your resume and/or business cards. You may not need it in the days of at-our-fingertip technology, but it is good to have, just in case!
- Be ready to wait, be flexible, be open (within reason). You may have a 30 minute interview, or you may get asked if you want to observe in the clinic for the afternoon.
- Follow up afterward either in a handwritten note or a letter.
- CovalentCareers has a blog post specific to interviewing for physical therapy jobs. Post can be found here.
- 100 Questions from Monster.com to help you prepare can be found here.
- Additional resources from Harvard University Office of Career Resources. Some are only available to students/alumni, but this is a good place to start! Also, connect with your school to see what resources they have available.
- General information about “what to wear” to an interview from Indeed.com can be found here as well as general interviewing resources here.
Negotiate Your Salary or Benefits
The interview has gone well, you receive a call or email with an offer. Now what?
PT and PTA salaries vary significantly by geographic location, practice setting, and employer type. Do your research prior to negotiating salary to gain understanding of the market in your area. Knowledge is power!
- APTA provides up to date data on median PT and PTA salaries by region, practice setting, and more, which can be found here.
- As mentioned before, GlassDoor offers salary reports for general positions, but can often have specific data from the company you are interested in.
- Other resources for salary data are PayScale.com, Salary.com, and The Bureau of Labor Statistics