How to Stay Sane During the Job Search Process

Career Coach Shares Tips for PAs

By Jennifer Anne Hohman

November 15, 2019

The job search is an exciting process that can yield great insights into your PA career priorities and goals. While challenging at times, here are some suggestions for making your next job search effective, rewarding, and enjoyable.

[Find PA job search tools and resources at AAPA’s Career Central.]

Know Yourself and What you Seek in a New Job
Start your PA job search with an in-depth self-assessment. Clarify your current career goals and ask yourself some questions: what do you want most with a new job? Improved compensation? A change of specialty? What does your ideal position look like in terms of setting, specialty, culture, pay/benefits? What are you not looking for? What lessons can you learn from your PA employment to date about PA practice that inspires and supports you? By identifying a personally meaningful goal, you’ll have a clearer direction for your search.

Update your Professional Materials to Make Your Applications Shine
Use PA Portfolio to create (and keep up to date) an inventory of your career-related records. Updating your resume and cover letter is essential, so that you can confidently articulate your skills and accomplishments to potential employers. Examine your resume with fresh eyes and look for ways to illuminate your accomplishments, particularly in areas that are transferable to your new job target. The goal is to make your resume and cover letter compelling reflections of your skills, passions, and achievements. Avoid repetition and generic language in your job descriptions—think about success stories that distinguish one position from another and demonstrate your professional growth. Show how your experience dovetails with a hiring manager’s needs. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and what makes you unique as a PA!

I also suggest refreshing your LinkedIn page: update your Experience section to reflect your current resume. Consider asking a colleague to write a Testimonial for your page—these definitely help your page stand out. Are your certifications and licensure information up to date? Be sure to follow institutions and medical topics relevant to your career and job search goals. Last but not least, engage your LinkedIn network as part of your search.

[6 Tips to Leverage LinkedIn]

Network to Connect with your Next Position
Often the fastest, most effective path to a new PA position is through people you know. Being referred by a current employee is a huge boost to any application. Many PAs have sparked new job offers by thinking creatively and expansively about potential contacts. Reach out to your LinkedIn connections, and brainstorm a list of potential leads, encompassing clinical peers, fellow alumni, friends, even family members. Colleagues in other departments at larger institutions may have valuable information on potential positions opening for internal hire.

[AAPA members: save up to 25% on personalized career transition and contract support service from the PA Career Coach.]

Research Potential Employers
Customizing your application to a specific position in a thoughtful, precise manner yields results! Align your professional materials to the job description and think creatively about practice experience that would transfer well. Use Google to research employers and delve into their culture, mission, and hiring needs. Often an employer’s website is a trove of information on these topics, and you can use this to craft an application that is customized and compelling. When applying to a position you found on a job board, be sure to use LinkedIn and Glassdoor to learn more about the employer. You can also use LinkedIn to connect with current or past employees, who may have helpful insider information to share.

Create a Position
You can also consider reaching out directly to hiring managers and physicians with a polished, targeted resume and cover letter, and tap into a vast market of potential employers. There are still many potential employers who do not fully grasp how valuable a PA could be for patient satisfaction and their own quality of life. Taking the time to reach out, introduce yourself, and even include educational information about the profession could yield an opportunity in exactly the location and specialty you seek.

[Job Crafting: Make the Most of Your Current Position]

Craft Your PA Career Journey
A job search can be arduous and stressful. It may help to think of the process as a creative opportunity for crafting a meaningful PA career path. By defining your current career goals and articulating your skills and experience, you can further solidify your mission in medicine. The job search process is a great way to reflect on what you most want as a clinician and as an individual, the unique gifts you have to offer, and how you hope to make a difference for patients.

Jennifer Anne Hohman is the founder of PA Career Coach, offering individualized career guidance to the PA community. She has been a passionate PA career advocate since 1999. Contact her with your questions and concerns at [email protected].

Additional Job Search Resources
PA Job Source
AAPA’s Salary Report
AAPA’s Job Search tools, advice, and tips



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