HOW CAN YOU LAND YOUR DREAM JOB? WHAT WILL MAKE YOU DESIRABLE TO EMPLOYERS, AND HOW CAN YOU MAKE SURE IT’LL BE THE RIGHT FIT? THE FOLLOWING ARE TOP TIPS FROM AN EXPERIENCED RECRUITER AND AN ICO ALUMNUS WHO GRADUATED WITH NO LESS THAN FIVE JOB OFFERS.
Jill Maher, MA, COE, of Maher Medical Practice Consulting, consults with eye care providers on all matters of business, including physician recruitment.
Who Hiring Managers Want
“It all depends on the needs of the practice. Most look for candidates with a broad range of medical management along with comprehensive exams and contact lenses. Regardless of practice type or needs, optometrists who are approachable, compassionate toward patients, reliable, and willing to go above and beyond patients’ expectations are most desirable.”
How to Make Connections and Be Seen
“Professional associations, such as the American Optometric Association, or state association websites are great places to post your resume and find opportunities. If you plan to stay in the area, your alma mater’s website is the best place to start; they may have more local opportunities. Also, create a LinkedIn profile and make connections there.”
Why to Start Today
“Anyone you come across—a professor, colleague, mentor, employer—may have, or know of, an opportunity where you might be a great fit. Begin an official search about six to 12 months before you finish school or residency. It takes a good 90 days to get fully credentialed with insurance and hospitals, so it is best to receive and accept an offer at a minimum of three months before joining a practice.”
What to Ask Your Potential Employer
“Learn as much about the practice as possible and make sure you understand the practice’s expectations before accepting an offer and signing the contract. Ask the following:
• How many patients do you expect me to see on an annual, monthly, daily, even hourly basis?
• How much support staff will I have (e.g., technician, scribe)?
• Will l have on-call duty?
• Which offices will I be working at each day of the week?”
When to Pause
“Do not negotiate salary/bonus during the initial phone interviews. Wait until you have met with the practice and received an actual offer.”
Find Your Passion
“This comes with experience. For example, in second year, I thought low vision seemed ‘So cool!’ By fourth year, I found it very exhausting. I loved working in pediatrics.”
Erika Poikey, OD ’17, is an ICO alumnus who had received five job offers by the time she graduated. She tells us how others can achieve similar success.
Set Goals and Parameters
“Make sure you and your employer want the same things and will work well together.
Questions to ask:
• What kind of patient population will I typically see?
• Would I be the only optometrist at the location?
• Am I required to bring diagnostic equipment and drops, or do they provide them?
• How much do I need to know about options for frames and glasses?
• What are the hours and my expected schedule? If the schedule isn’t full, do I need to be there and what will I be doing?
• How much pre-testing do they do and how much control do I have over that and my schedule? Do I start out with half-hour exams? 15-minute exams?”
“Before I went on an interview, I would look up my interviewer on Google and Facebook to learn what they’re interested in and what we have in common. For example, I found out one hiring manager also is a coach and still plays sports in many adult leagues. When we talked, I focused on how I’m a great team player and learned to work well with others from my history in playing sports throughout my life. He totally ate that up; he loved that we had things in common and was very excited to meet me for a face-to-face interview. Also, having questions to ask at the end of the interview to show interest is important.”
Use Digital Tools
“Connect with ODs on Facebook and LinkedIn, follow @medicaltalks on Instagram, and search for employment opportunities on the ICO website. Join an employment agency like the Eye Group, which is free to job candidates.”
Invest More Time
“I spent my break weeks interviewing. In fact, one week I had a different interview every day in different towns. It really built up my confidence on selling myself.”
“Look friendly, have a great smile, give a strong handshake, and be enthusiastic. All of that goes a long way.”
Dr. Poikey on how she ultimately chose her path:
“When I got multiple job offers, I compared them and then looked into how to weed them out. I even considered the age of the building and whether I could re-paint or re-decorate.The company I chose has state-of-the-art equipment, other doctors in the company who are willing to provide advice, and my office is in an up-and-coming location. The company focuses on teamwork and addressing problems in a positive manner. We have weekly office meetings to make sure the opticians and doctor are on the same page. All doctors meet monthly to discuss questions and updates with equipment and the EMR system.
The owner of the company is happy to have a young doctor and hopes to attract a young crowd. He actually visits his stores and has purchased glasses for people who can’t afford them; he really cares about patient experience. I only have exams every half hour and have a very flexible schedule. The company also provided a sign-on bonus to cover moving expenses.”
Heather Swink, CAE, M.A., is a freelance writer, editor and content adviser.