Spring is in the air, as signified by the inch thick of pollen on my car each day. That means that there will be more folks w/ respiratory issues in the hospital and more new OTs starting their first job search!! I'm not a career counselor, but I survived my first searches, and here are some tips to hopefully make your search more fruitful.
There are a few questions which frame the whole job search, but I think most people have this under control. You should know the constraints of your search. Are you getting married or otherwise needing to stay within a certain geographical region? Do you have others to support or just need to make enough to cover your own expenses? Do you need to start work immediately or can you take some time off after graduation? Thinking about what you need can help you narrow your focus and concentrate on what's important to you.
I think it's easier looking for a job in a specific geographical area than just looking for random jobs anywhere. And while you can do a good portion of your job search from far away, thanks to the wonders of the internet, it is easier to do after you have moved and settled in the area. Not a luxury everyone has, I didn't. I haven't had very good luck searching on the internet sites that cater to all professions (i.e. Monster) but when I was seriously looking it was in a more rural region. Even now though, searching for OT jobs in Baltimore only pulls up 9 options. What I do find on sites like this is info for contracting companies, services that run nationwide.
So you can use profession-specific search engines to assist the search. If I remember correctly, I found my first job on the AOTA sponsored OT JobLink. Will this get integrated into OT Connections? Don't know, but it remains a reliable source for finding and communicating w/ employers... like monster, it allows you to upload a resume and have it be searchable or not. If you're an AOTA member (and of course you should be!) then there's no reason not to use this tool. OT Practice has nice color ads organized by region and job type and Advance always has hundreds of ads in the print magazine, you can search their listings as well. 2 other sites come up in a google search, but I haven't used either- OTJobs.com and JobsOT.com. I don't have time to give them a full trial, but I suspect that they are likely to have more national staffing companies than location specific jobs.
If you have a location in mind, it's easy to find links to the Chamber of Commerce for the different areas, you can search for hospitals or nursing homes in the area to see if they list on their website that they're hiring. Also finding local newspapers online will often let you search the help wanted ads. I get a lot of emails and mailers w/ job opportunities (that's actually how I found out about my current job), the other way to find a job is to ask your friends and acquaintences what's open in their area(Hello Facebook!). I still get emails to my school email address from classmates who have job openings at their facilities. Going to conferences big or small will also provide you with a time to network and find out about openings.
Even if you don't see an opening on a company's website, don't assume their not hiring. (Unless it's for the feds, they're pretty clear about when there's an opening) You can always call the rehab department or submit a resume without a specific opening, you will probably have more luck with this if you're willing to do prn work.
Not much to say about choosing a setting, except to keep your options open. It is very possible that you could try something different and find out that you really like it. Going into my last job, I thought that I would prefer the SNF floor over the acute care since it would be more like rehab, and I had no expectations of even participating in pediatrics at all. I didn't know the way I would appreciate those different areas. If you can find a site to give you experience in several different populations and diagnosis types, I'd say that is very valuable. It is much easier to learn to be a specialist after getting a firm grasp on being a generalist, I think.
Once you've found a few places that look promising, go ahead and set up interviews. If you can do all your interviews within the same general time frame, that will be helpful, since each place will probably want to pressure you a bit to commit or decline the opportunity quickly. Just make sure you keep good records of the benefits, daily details, and pros/cons of the different jobs so you don't get confused about what facility had what. More details on acing the interview in another post.
Anyone else have tips for finding a job? Feel free to share. One of my professors used to say that you'd be innundated w/ employment offers once you had a job, so even if prospects look bleak, remember that Job 1 could allow you to find Job 2.