Are you an optometry student applying to jobs, a new optometrist looking for your next position, or a doctor looking for advice on navigating an employment contract? The CovalentCareers Optometry Career Workshop will take you through everything you need to do in order to find the perfect optometry job, all the way from interviewing to negotiating your contract.
In the following five videos, ODs Matt Geller and Antonio Chirumbolo cover:
- Goal setting: what it means, and why it matters
- Where to look for optometry jobs
- How to interpret a job ad
- How to craft an optometric resume
- How to write the cover letter
- How to prepare for the job interview
- What kinds of questions are often asked in optometry job interviews
- How to understand an employment contract
- How to negotiate compensation and benefits you want
As optometrists, we understand that grad school often doesn't prepare students for the reality of the job market. We've put together the CovalentCareers Optometry Career Workshop to cover the most important aspects of the new grad job search from start to finish.
Download the workbook below to follow along with the course!
At CovalentCareers, we're big believers in self-reflection and setting goals. Identifying what you want out of your life helps you choose the decisions that will get you there.
This doesn't mean buying every self-help book out there. It means asking yourself important questions about what your ideal life looks like at different points in time.
Answering these questions helps you define what you want to do—which is the first step to getting there!
Applying to Jobs
The question we get most at CovalentCareers is, "When should I start applying to jobs?"
Sadly, there's no magic number, but a good rule of thumb is to start as soon as you can. Many employers will passively recruit candidates, so if you're on track to graduate in a few months, it's worth your time and theirs to reach out.
When applying to jobs, it's best to:
- Start early
- Don't discount opportunities
- Browse jobs on both industry specific job boards like CovalentCareers and Local Eye Site and more general job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn
- Don't be shy about seeking mentorship
CovalentCareers offers mentorship from industry professionals, a job board built for you, and all kinds of content including video courses like this one!
When it comes to job application materials, keep your resume simple, but be sure to include:
- A short description of what makes you unique
- Your school experience
- Your externships or residency
- Statements speaking to the value you'll bring to the practice
As a young OD, you're going to be able to practice great clinical care. But what can you bring to a practice—whether private or corporate—that no one else can?
Interviewing for positions
Congratulations! You've made it to the interview stage! In all honesty, this is probably the most important part of the entire application process. This is the stage that gives you the chance to view people's reactions and respond accordingly.
One of the first things to do when you're preparing for an interview is identifying the culture of the practice you want to join. Is the practice family-focused and laid-back, where employees wear comfortable clothes and hug their patients? Or does it have a strong professional vibe and everyone is strait-laced and business focused?
It's extremely important to practice your interview skills with a friend or colleague ahead of time. That will help you get comfortable with talking about yourself and your experience, and practice answering the kinds of questions commonly asked in an interview. It'll also give you a chance to work on questions to ask your interviewer, so you don't have to come up with them on the spot.
Once you're ready to go, remember: the interview begins the moment you walk into the office and first impressions go a long way. When you meet with your prospective employer, don't forget to be honest, even if you think disagreeing with the interviewing doctor or expressing discontent at the hours required means they won't hire you. If you're a good fit for the practice and they want to hire you, there are certain things that can be worked around. On the other hand, if you sign up for something that makes you unhappy, that's bad for both you and the practice.
Watch our mock interview for a peek at the kinds of interview questions we've received in interviews!
So, you've passed the interview stage and find yourself in possession of a job offer. Great work! Next up is understanding the employment contract.
Most contracts are reasonably boilerplate. Feel free to get a family member or even a lawyer to look at it, but keep in mind that substantial contract negotiation could delay the hiring process. With that in mind, don't negotiate for the sake of negotiation—spend the time you need going over your employment contract so you fully understand what's outlined in it.
You want your contract to feel secure, so outline everything. Does it designate you as an employee or an independent contractor? Do you work in an at-will state? Are there any requirements around bonuses? What are your benefits? It's important that you have answer to these questions (and more) before you sign.
If it turns out that you want to negotiate your contract, this episode is for you.
Start by considering your goals. What is your "walkaway" point? At what point in negotiation would you walk away from that offer?
Once you've identified what items might cause you to walk away, do some research. Is the compensation you're being offered reasonable and fair? Look at the average for your experience in your area, and compare the numbers. What about benefits and incentives? PTO, continuing education, licensing exam fees?
While the job duties are set, the rest of the elements of the contract might be flexible. Maybe the salary is lower than you were anticipating or than what you've found to be the going rate. How do you negotiate that? It really depends on the situation (location, amount of experience, individual employers, etc.), and that's why it's important to go in with your research and an open mind.
If the salary is substantially lower than you expect, it could be that there are extra incentives you weren't aware of; alternatively, bringing that up with the hiring manager gives you room to negotiate.
If the salary is only slightly lower, there could be other reasons as well; again, you might have room to negotiate if you bring your reasons and the value you offer to the table.
Other things you can negotiate include:
- Paid time off
- Continuing education compensation
- Licensing exam fees
Make sure to set your goals ahead of time so you know what's truly important and worth fighting for. Now go get 'em!
Beyond the Job Search
So now you've signed your employment contract, you've got the compensation you want, and you're ready to start work. Congratulations!
There will always be more to learn—whether it's career advice, like negotiating a raise or buying into a practice, or clinical advice, like the newest instrumentation or emerging technologies and how they affect your practice. But you're on the right track!
If you need any resources in the future, don't hesitate to reach out to CovalentCareers.