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Traditional Values. Innovative Care.

The Job Search – Where Do I Start?

Posted: 11/9/11
Steve Kinkead, SLP

I recently spoke to a group of speech pathology students at the Nebraska Speech, Language and Hearing Association’s annual convention. I tried to provide a perspective about resume development and the job search process knowing that is an important topic weighing on the minds of these students.

I list the nuts and bolts but most importantly I tried to give them food for thought in considering their first position as a professional. The process I outline below is geared toward ours as a contract therapy services provider but is applicable across most settings.



Define what fits you in terms of setting and population.

  • Geriatric
  • Pediatric
  • Schools
  • Long-term care
  • Clinic/hospital
  • Short-term travel


Define what’s important to you.

  • Near family
  • Open to a long-distance move
  • Big city
  • Small town


  • Develop a resume
  • Contact three professional references for permission to use their names
  • Research opportunities
    – Internet searches
    – Word of mouth/networking
  • Prepare a concise/well-written letter/email to go along with resume


Answer honestly and be a good listener

Call with recruiter

  • Understand who the recruiter represents (actual hiring company, head hunter, travel company)
  • Where did you learn about the company openings that interest you (website, referral, etc)?
  • Ask questions about the specific job, location and community
  • Request information about company benefits

Phone interview

  • Don’t drive or multi-task
  • Take call in private
  • Take notes
  • Have list of questions prepared
  • Be yourself and sell yourself

On-site interview

  • Dress professionally
  • Observe team dynamics
  • Have list of questions prepared
    – Specifics about the job
    – Team dynamics
    – Supervisor support
    – Facility dynamics
    – Community
    – Timeline for decision-making
    – Additional information needed? References?
  • Talk to potential co-workers about their daily routines
  • Be yourself and sell yourself
    – Don’t ask what the company can do for you. Tell them what you can do for them.


  • Email follow-up message is appropriate, particularly if that’s how you’re already communicating with them
  • Most importantly the message should be sincere and well written (not canned)


  • Consider your social media status/pages
    (do they convey a professional, respectable image?)
  • Make sure your voicemail message is clear and professional (no cutesy music or silly messages)
  • Don’t use a silly email address
  • Return phone calls/emails promptly, even if you’re not interested
  • Remember to never burn a bridge


Once you’ve interviewed and have the information, think about these things.

  • Can you see yourself in the environment on a daily basis?
  • Are you comfortable with the level of supervision?
  • Is the company culture a fit with your values?
  • Are you comfortable with the productivity expectations/caseload?
  • Are the training and development (mentoring) opportunities what you’re looking for?
  • Are you comfortable with the direction of the therapy department and philosophy of treatment decisions?

Go with your gut! Don’t try to make something work that isn’t right.

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  1. Megan Marlier

    Deb Lacey just came and spoke with my occupational therapy class at College of Saint Mary and the information she provided us was very helpful. She told us about this blog and I think the information posted on this blog will be useful now and in the future as an OT.

  2. Nikki Wragge

    Thanks for the great insight regarding interviews and resumes presented in class today! It will be helpful as graduation is quickly approaching!

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