Most final year Physio students begin to think about life after study. How will you get a good job in a competitive job market? What can you do to prepare for working as a Physio before you’re qualified?
In my experience as an employer, many Physio students spend their time and effort on things that don’t actually enhance your chances of landing a decent job. Enthusiasm is great, but wasted if it’s misdirected.
So here’s our roadmap for soon-to-be Physiotherapists to improve their chances of landing an awesome job. It’s a plan for your final 12 months before graduation, registration and the real world.
Tidy up your CV
You’ve probably got a CV that’s been gradually growing since your high school days. You add each new job, experience and other random stuff on there (Vice-Captain of the 21D football team!).
All that info is super relevant for a job at the local cafe or retail shop – they love to see someone who has a range of experience. But when it comes to professional life as a Physiotherapist, most of that info may now be redundant or not relevant.
Think of it this way – what skills, experience or positions would make you a better Physio?
If you worked anywhere that deals with the public, it shows that you have experience interacting with people.
If you did volunteer work that helps the community, it shows great community engagement.
All that stuff helps portray an image of a good communicator who is involved with their local community.
But then there’s the less relevant stuff that just distracts from the good bits – high school prize for 2nd place in Chemistry, RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) course and other similar info.
A short list of highlights is far better as a Resume than a long list of trivial “accomplishments”.
Fix up your socials
Remember that your personal socials are not “personal” if they’re public! You may be super proud of your drinking endeavours, or that time you wore lingerie to a fancy dress party, but others may not share your enthusiasm.
Some pics may send a message that you’re not a responsible adult/professional. Others might just look less than ideal in the eyes of prospective patients.
An employer will consider any publicly available info from the point of view of a patient – if they can find it, so can clients.
You don’t need to delete your greatest hits, just switch them to private.
Helpful Physio exposure on your CV
Not all employment is created equal in the eyes of a Physio employer. There’s a hierarchy to consider, particularly if you’re looking to pad out your CV as a final year Physio student about to enter the market.
Jobs that mimic Physio work are best, followed by work with Physio clients, then work that involves developing a rapport with people and lastly, the rest.
Sports coverage or reception work
Working for a Physio clinic in any capacity looks great on a CV. It also gives you the opportunity to impress a potential employer before you’re even graduated.
You can get a job as a First Aider covering sporting events and teams – just approach your local sports Physio practice to see if they are looking for coverage people.
There’s also reception work at a Physio clinic. You need to interact with Physio clients, contribute to the operations of a Physio practice and you may even get an opportunity to observe some Physiotherapists in action.
Be very careful around volunteer work! Having the chance to volunteer for some gigs looks great on the CV but it can be taken advantage of.
If you take a volunteer gig, it should be for a finite and short period of time. It’s not an open-ended set up where there’s no incentive for the employer to stop the arrangement.
From a CV point of view, volunteering to help at the football for one month or six months all looks the same. Just volunteer for a month or two then go searching for more experience in other gigs.
Last on the list of Physio-like work is observation work. It doesn’t really carry much weight from an employment perspective but it does show an enthusiasm for learning in any capacity.
If you can’t find other work around the Physio scenes, start with observation as a stepping stone to bigger and better roles.
Further study as a final year Physio student
Your final year of university education is often one of the richest and most intense learning phases of your life to date! You don’t need to go and do a shoulder injury course, or a course on assessing lower back pain.
While you might think this looks good on a CV, it may actually be perceived as a negative. Why would you need to do extra learning unless your uni course wasn’t preparing you for the real world?
Once you’ve brushed up the CV and added some Physio-like exposure, you’re ready to join the other eager final year Physio students and start to approach prospective employers.
Networking as a final year Physio student, it’s important that you let clinic owners know that you’re not looking to find a job (although it’s not out of the question). You just want to meet the people that work in the industry and see if there’s any way that you can help them while gaining valuable experience.
Most clinic owners would be interested in utilising the services of a final year Physio student (first year students aren’t much help as they haven’t done any clinical placements yet). They know it’s a quid pro quo – you gain experience, they get some help.
Remember that your initial approach reflects strongly on you and your characteristics. If you send out a bunch of “Dear Clinic Owner” emails, the lack of personalisation or any knowledge of the company tends to indicate that you’re not super motivated and always looking for shortcuts. At my clinics, we pretty much ignore any approaches that begin with “Dear owner” or “Hey there“.
If your approach begins with “Hi David, I saw your clinic’s Facebook pics from that under 18’s soccer final and it looked like you were super busy. I was wondering if we could meet to see if I could assist and gain experience….“, it shows that you’ve spent the time and done your homework. That sort of work ethic will almost always justify a meeting.