Updated: Nov 21, 2019
So you survived all the grueling semesters and tests and now finally you are ready to get you a job and finally earn some money. Then you start looking for a job, and every. single. job wants previous experience. How can you possibly get a job when all the jobs you see demand the one thing that you do not have?
Didn't we already go through this when we were looking for our first jobs as teenagers?
Don't fret! I have great news for you. Employers want experienced people, but they don't necessarily need them. They just basically want to avoid the time and monetary investment that is required to train someone because they've probably been burned before by employees they invested time, resources and training on who just ended up leaving them.
I’ll tell you a secret: a lot of employers looking to fill non-leadership, health care positions who advertise wanting experience, would very likely consider a new grad if they are smart and self-motivated enough.
Trust me, in my experience healthcare employers loooooove nothing more than to save money. Most would hire the right new grad if it was the right fit, they had the kind of qualities that would make training relatively easier, and the opportunity just happened to present itself. For instance, when a student on rotation shines and the practice loves that student so much they hire them, even if they were not necessarily looking for anyone.
New grads and students that supersede expectations are any employers jackpot. This is why it's so very important that while on rotations as a student, you seek to become part of the workflow, get involved in helping them achieve practice goals and unburden them in any way you can so that basically act like you're already an employee. Every rotation is a 6 week Job interview.
But that's a whole other blog post. Back to you being an absolute Jackpot. Believe it or as a new grad, you have one huge competitive advantage over the experienced folks: YOU ARE MUCH CHEAPER. I know that doesn't sound like such a great thing, but it is! Hear me out.
When businesses are presented with the choice between a highly experienced person and a highly motivated new grad- the fact that you're cheaper will weigh heavily in your corner.
With a highly motivated new grad, they get an employee who with minimal encouragement, goes out of their way to get trained fast and can quickly and seamlessly join the team, while also saving them lots of money on hiring an experienced person that may or may not come with bad habits or an inflexible attitude. Its a win-win for them and for you.
My biggest piece of advice when you see jobs you are interested in that demand prior experience is to apply anyway.
If they are smart and consider the great financial gain in hiring you, they will call you in for an interview. If not you lose nothing by trying.
I should also preface this by saying that, this ain't no regular-regular new grad. This type of new grad that finds a way to be attractive to employers is special. They are not meek, or afraid to speak up when it matters. These folks are not lacking in confidence, or at the very least, confidence is something that they are constantly and genuinely working on improving.
These new grads are invested in becoming thoroughly clinically competent as soon as possible, and they will not wait for anyone to take them by the hand and get them up to speed. They will go out and get it, any way they can, without much prompting.
These new grads will use every person as a resource and will seek out every learning opportunity, inside and outside the job. These are the new grads that will not wait for the right job to come along. Thes new grads go hunt these jobs for themselves like a predators looking for a fresh kill, and if they don’t exist yet, they do everything in their power to create opportunities as they see fit, no matter what the naysayers chime in with, regardless of the location, economy, the weather or any other variable that may present itself.
These are the apex predators of the job-hunting game, and all the other new grads will be left with whatever scraps they leave behind.
These types of new grads do not have to be born, they can be made. Anyone can be this type of new grad if they are willing to work harder and smarter than the rest.
How to become an Apex predator in the New Grad Job Hunt
Look Beyond the Job listings
Don't be afraid to ask for a position in a place you love, even if it doesn't exist.
Like I said before, as a student the best thing to do is to rotate with a practice that has no PA or is actively looking for one so that you can prove yourself valuable to their team. I encourage my students that if they love the rotation, don’t be afraid to ask for them to create a position for you! It happened to me and to a few students of mine.
If that is not an option, my best advice is to also consider the many, many jobs that are not openly posted. Decide what your dream job is, look up local hospitals or practices, and show up there and speak to the attending doc. You may choose to make a brief appointment. Network with local PA chapters in your desired specialty, ask hospitals if they have a lead APP contact, look them up, call or email. The best jobs out there are not posted because they are in such high demand and usually have people lining up for it. Jobs in Dermatology and plastics (highest paying of course) are notorious for being like this.
Get Boots on the Ground
Call, show up, ask to meet with physicians or administrators, customize your resume to highlight any pertinent school experience. In this digital world, there is such power in hand delivering a cover letter and resume, and maybe even have an opportunity to shake some hands, talk to folks and get some face time. I love doing this because it also gives me the opportunity to speak to the staff and gather some metrics on the place so I can build a solid strategy for applying.
Prospect & Strategize
It never hurts to thoroughly research a company before applying. What are their numbers, what do they specialize in, what is the culture like, are they involved in the community? How?
There have been plenty of times in my career that I have seen surgeons struggling from lack of help. I observe them for a while, I guess you can call this prospecting. I get to know their practice, surgeries per day/week/ month/, their pain points like long turnovers, the phone constantly ringing, their overall vibe like do they always look like they're in the middle of a fire drill, or are they relaxed? If I want them as clients it's not uncommon for me to tell them straight up: "This is how I can help you, and here's all the ways would benefit". Then I go about listing in detail all the ways in which hiring me would improve their productivity, stress level, and revenue.
Like I said before sometimes, they need you more than they might necessarily want you. Research the practice, come up with a solid strategy of how you can help improve their productivity, stress level, and revenue- I promise you that if you do this, you will be in the game.
Become Fearless in Pursuit
Get your mindset right. If you believe all the good jobs are taken, or that you're in the wrong town or state, or specialty, or that the market is flooded already or that its Obamas fault or Trumps fault or whatever else- you are putting yourself at a profound disadvantage, because you are placing the responsibility of your own success on external circumstances.
You must believe your personal fulfillment and success is your responsibility, not the worlds. Once you decide this- nothing that gets in your way will prevail against you.
Not all jobs will be an easy email, interview and hire. Especially with the really large hospital systems, some will require multiple communications, vetting, meetings, jumping through hoops, etc. Not many people have the patience for that, but these places typically have really great benefits and job security so it's definitely worth exploring.
Mind the Red flags
If you see a PA job posted for a really long time, consider that a red flag as I do. Something about that job is causing PAs to run for the hills! Maybe its salary, troublesome personnel, lack of resources, undesirable location or job description, etc.
In my experience, PA jobs by referral or word of mouth tend to be the better matches, more fruitful, and more lucrative than a lot of the ones posted so it is paramount that you tap into your network or seek to join more.
The best jobs out there will require you to get out of your comfort zone and go far beyond the comfort of your computer screen and cellphone.
The best jobs out there rarely come from just one online application, it requires boots on the ground, cold calling, networking, hospital events, prospecting, in-person meetings and whatever else it takes.
The more you go out of your way to be different than the rest and set yourself apart from the masses of New grads sitting idly back waiting for callbacks, the more you will have the first pick in the best jobs out there.
By actively creating opportunities for yourself in the Job hunt and staying predator focused, your job prospect pool will be much wider and deeper than your counterparts, and you will maximize your chances of landing that amazing job and finally start bringing home some bacon!