Is one of your New Year’s goals to find a new job? Even if you say, “no,” understanding how to position yourself as an expert and show off your skills can benefit you in many ways. These steps helped me find and get fulfilling jobs as a speech-language pathologist in various work settings—from schools to health care in places from New York to Dubai—and I hope they’ll help you, too.
SLPs might think because they see plenty of job openings, they can just apply for and get whatever one looks decent. But what about when you find and want to apply for that job that you’re certain is perfect for you?
More on career management:
Try these five methods to distinguish yourself as an expert, so you can stand out in the market and land your dream job with ease:
- Choose a specialty: As SLPs, we can work with clients across the lifespan, and we are trained in various specialties. Pick one or two areas you find interesting and focus on those professionally. When you come across that competitive dream job, this will help you stand out from among a number of candidates with similar training. Specializing in one or two areas—early intervention or autism, for example—demonstrates your interest in those areas and gives you a qualification edge when applying for a job related to those particular populations or disorders. If you aren’t working in a specialty area that you aspire to, see the section on advanced training.
- Identify your “special sauce”: Your “special sauce” is what makes you unique as an SLP and goes deeper than a specialty. For example, are you particularly adept at managing different personalities? Or do you work well under pressure and deadlines? What skills or personality traits make you an ideal fit for your dream job?
- Get training and/or certificates in your specialty area: Getting additional training in an evidenced-based method for your specialty area adds a boost to your resume. Taking this extra action also lets prospective employers know you’re serious about honing your expertise. Completing courses, attaining certification, attending conferences, and getting continuing education units distinguish you from other SLPs applying for the same job.
- Know your defining moment: Almost everyone experiences something they call a “defining moment” in their career. Maybe a particular school or clinic had a huge impact on the way you practice. Perhaps you altered your perspective after overcoming a tough situation with a client or supervisor, or from working in a particular geographical location or with a certain population.
- Create a resume highlighting your expertise, advanced training and defining moments: Present all of those skills, experiences and your “special sauce” in an attractive but simple resume. This document—and your cover letter—provide recruiters with first impressions. Highlight those things that help you stand out among applicants at the top. Before the typical chronological list of experiences, include a brief profile introducing yourself in an interesting way and highlighting skills you developed specific for that particular job.
Over the last few years, I used these steps to distinguish myself in the market. I now receive several messages a week from recruiters and employers about desirable SLP job opportunities. These jobs usually offer better-than-average working conditions and higher-than-average salaries—and some allow me to work overseas.
Of course, there’s much more to finding and landing your dream job, but these steps will get you moving in the right direction.
Natasha Christy, MS, CCC-SLP, is a job attraction strategist who helps SLPs distinguish themselves as candidates for their dream job. As a practicing clinician, she worked in a variety of pediatric settings in New York, Dubai, and Washington, D.C. firstname.lastname@example.org