As a new Doctor of Optometry graduate, you will be competing for job positions with applicants who have had more experience, or new graduates with a similar resume as you. So how do you make yourself stand out to land a job? Here are some key points to consider.
1. Distinguish yourself with residency training.
If you have recently graduated as an optometrist, chances are you have as much experience as your fellow classmates. When employers interview potential candidates, a residency will help you distinguish yourself when all other factors are equal. Not only will you have specialized training in a particular area of optometry, the confidence and knowledge you gain from residency will help you impress your prospective employer. It shows that you are striving to challenge yourself and wanting to use your license to the fullest scope of practice. Having a residency is especially helpful if you are interested in working in a multidisciplinary environment. Residency includes the following areas of emphases: cornea and contact lenses, ocular disease, pediatrics/vision therapy, low vision and rehabilitation, and primary care.
2. Step into your potential employer’s shoes.
To echo the words of John F. Kennedy, ask not what your employer can do for you, but what you can do for your employer. Many new graduates make the mistake of having their schedules unavailable to work on weekends because they would like to relax during those days. Arguably, who doesn’t? However, if you can be that candidate to offer vacation relief, take or share on-call responsibilities, or work weekends so your employer does not have to, they will be much more eager to hire you. Remember, employers are looking for someone to make their lives easier.
3. Stay involved and networking will follow.
Whether you’re a first year student or a newly graduated doctor, it is never too early to start attending local society meetings or larger conferences. Not only is it a good way to stay informed, it’s also a great way to network with other optometrists who could potentially be looking to hire someone. Always keep a business card on hand with your online resume link, if they wanted to find out more about you (i.e. LinkedIn). Anytime you meet an OD, ask for a business card and send them an email with a follow-up message. This will help you expand your job connections.
– Nancy Chan, OD, FSLS, David Kading, OD, FAAO