(This blog article has been adapted for ASHASphere from the “PediaStaff New Graduate Guide.” Click here to download the entire guidebook.)
We’re sure you’ve heard the old adage that “Timing is Everything!” This has never been truer than as you take the next step toward becoming a Speech Language Pathologist. This blog article will help you navigate what we like to call the “road map to success.”
At the Beginning of Your Degree Program:
- Create a favorites folder in your computer browser where you can start to catalogue the various websites of job search and clinical resources that you will come across.
- Start ‘networking socially’ specifically for your profession. For example, join Twitter and follow the “#SLPeeps” hashtag, join the ASHA LinkedIn group, and if you are going to work with kiddos, the Pediatric and School Based Therapy group on LinkedIn.
- Subscribe to all professional newsletters and blogs you can find relevant to your course of study. Many of the not-for-profit organizations that specialize in specific communications disorders have robust newsletters that contain information-packed articles and current news items. SLPs are prolific bloggers! Sean Sweeney of the Speech Techie blog has put together a great Blog Bundle of 17 bloggers that blog about speech-language pathology topics.
- Begin preparing your professional resume. List all pertinent class work, projects, awards, publications, and workshops you’ve attended. Also include para-professional employment and volunteer work if applicable. Use bullet format please. This is a work in progress!
- Since I am not fond of “Don’ts,” here are a few “Do’s” for you to consider when beginning your search:
- Do post your resume…but limit where and how many…YOU take control of your job search.
- Do choose your recruiter carefully…the right one is your “best friend and ally” in your search.
- Do stay focused on what’s important now….your clinical experience and preparing for your professional exam.
In the Final Year of Your Degree Program (6 months from graduation):
- Continue working on items in the section above.
- Begin the process of identifying your location preferences and communicate them with the recruiters you’ve identified and others who you have asked to help you with your search.
- Set up a separate email account (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) for ONLY job search related issues. Keep it professional! (For example: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com)
- Update your resume. Include all clinical work…quantify whenever possible (worked with 8 students at John Jay Elementary School…list diagnoses and treatment used.)
Three Months from Graduation – During your Clinical Fieldwork
- Same as above. Begin to narrow down your employment preferences.
- Definitely start connecting with a recruiter that you trust in your area to discuss job prospects, specifically one that will customize a search for you. Establish and convey your availability for phone and face-to-face interviews to that person or persons.
Two Months from Graduation
- Schedule your PRAXIS exam if you have not already done so.
- Make sure you update your resume to include clinical affiliations and resend to everyone that you previously sent a copy.
- Develop a reference list – Ask your references for permission so they know you’re listing them, and ask each for a written reference, these are sometimes helpful.
- Build a schedule of available times for phone interviews and visits with prospective employers.
One Month from Graduation (Oh my Goodness, it’s Getting Close!)
- Continue to conduct interviews as needed.
- Begin licensure research, review requirements for the state(s) you are interested in.
- Develop plans for relocation (if necessary).
- Finalize your resume with graduation, professional exam results, and any articles published or continuing education taken.
- You should be in weekly contact with the recruiter(s) that you are working with.
- Be sure to have your relocation plans in place to include cost of relocation.
We highly encourage you to plan for some down time for yourself! It is important for you to begin your new career rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle the challenge ahead!
Heidi Kay is one of the founding partners of PediaStaff and is the editor-in-chief of the PediaStaff New Graduate Guide [PDF], and the PediaStaff Blog, which delivers the latest news, articles, research updates, therapy ideas, and resources from the world of pediatric and school-based therapy. PediaStaff is a nationwide, niche oriented company focused on the placement and staffing of pediatric therapists including speech-language pathologists.