What Hiring Managers Look For
Here’s something your professors, mentors and clinical instructors may not think to tell you: preparation for a well-rounded resume should start well before you graduate. Yes, in addition to long classes, late nights studying, exams and clinicals, you also need to think about what your cumulative college experience “says” to hiring managers.
Our operations team encourages students to “go beyond the clinical” while in school. “You may not get your first, second or even third choice on your clinical rotations,” says SNF Operations Manager Jennifer Flanagan, SLP. “If a new grad wants to work, for example, in a SNF after graduation, I’d prefer to see some sort of SNF experience on the resume.”
Rely on clinicals to get you experience in a certain setting and you could miss out on valuable life and work experience. Take the extra steps early on in your schooling to familiarize yourself with the settings in which you may work through job opportunities such as a tech, SNF dietary aide, hospital transport aide or caregiver.
“When listing clinicals on a resume, be sure to describe the clinical setting. Don’t just list the place,” says Director of Operations Tracy Milius, OT. “For example, if you list the name of a clinic, was it a pediatric outpatient clinic? A sports clinic? Be clear, but keep it concise.”
Highlight only relevant experiences on your resume. “Replace any non-therapy experience, like retail work, with volunteer activities,” recommends Tracy. Volunteering in any aspect will give you more experience interacting with people and establishing desired soft skills. But you can often find volunteer activities that will in some way correlate to therapy skills. For example, if you have a goal to work with pediatrics you could consider volunteer work in adaptive sports or your local Special Olympics organizations.
“Even personal experience can be valuable on a resume in the right context,” says Jennifer. “I’ve had applicants tell me stories about how they had to act as a caregiver to a family member.” In these instances, even though it doesn’t seem like professional experience, any background info about personal connections to therapy-related care would be relevant and can set you apart depending on the setting and caseload you are applying for.
Get involved in your state or student therapy organizations and general advocacy for your therapy profession. Students interested in eventually stepping up into leadership roles can do a few things to demonstrate this early on to hiring managers. “Many schools now require student membership in state organizations or student special interest groups,” Tracy said. “It’s really the officer positions now that indicate to us an interest or potential for leadership.”
We’ve been fortunate to welcome many talented new therapists into RehabVisions’ therapy departments. While it is ultimately your skill level, what are you bringing to enhance a team, and how well you fit in with the team that leads to a job offer, keeping these things in mind as you go through school will help you obtain a background desirable to hiring managers.