You’ve completed paramedic school and passed the National Registry, so what comes next? For many people, it’s an intimidating job hunt. As a recent college grad myself, I have firsthand experience with the many emotions that come with finishing school: excitement, relief, and a major dose of apprehension.
Here are a few tips to help you in the hunt for your EMS dream job.
1. Remember that your first job may not be your dream job.
Keep your eye on your long term goals, but be humble enough to accept a position that might be a stepping stone to greater things. It's common to start in an entry-level position, even something like transferring patients from one hospital to another. This type of position will help build your reputation as an employee and teach you more about EMS as a profession in general.
2. Special skills or certifications will help you stand out from the crowd.
Anything you can do to stand out in the stack of resumes will work in your favor. Specialized skills like Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), or Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) certification show that you go above and beyond in your work. Look for opportunities to participate in local EMS conferences where they often have "hot" training exercises that can teach you new skills.
3. Your personal life can be a part of your resume.
Everything from your driving record to your Facebook page could be examined by a hiring manager. Remember that something as seemingly small as a few speeding tickets could stand between you and your dream position on an ambulance.
4. School kept you mentally sharp, but make sure you’re also keeping physically fit.
Physical fitness is essential to your interview. Agility tests can be grueling, as Paramedic Instructor Kevin Johnson of Inver Hills Community College experienced, “Several years ago I went through one where I physically had to run around a two block hospital, was met at the door with a drug bag and an ECG monitor, had to run up four flights of steps, do CPR on a manikin for 5 minutes, and then begin the test. That's some of the stuff you might be up against."
5. Network, network, network.
EMS is a small, tight-knit community. Rather than posting openings on job sites, many hiring managers may just ask their connections, “Who do you know that we should hire?” Don’t be afraid to send your resume with a letter of interest to places you’d like to work. Follow up with a phone call to show you’re dedicated to landing the job.
6. Your instructor is your best advisor and your most important reference.
If you need help putting together a resume or writing a letter of interest, reach out to your educators. They’ve got the experience to help you craft a polished application. It’s also important to remember that instructors are often consulted during the hiring process. A good student most often makes a good employee.
7. Use your student portfolio to demonstrate your skills and strengths.
Under the MyFisdap tab in your Fisdap account, there’s a link to MyPortfolio. This page is a one-stop shop for all the educational information you’ll need to show an employer: your overall competency, exam performance, internship records, attendance, and evaluations. You can easily export a PDF version of this info and use it complement your resume.
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