We all look at job postings. Perhaps you’re a clinical year PA student and searching for your first job…how exciting and overwhelming at the same time! Or, you could be a practicing PA considering a career move. Or, you could be like me and just find job postings rather intriguing, like window shopping what’s out there and comparing it to your current employment situation.
Once you’re a few years into your career, you’ve got the requisite 1-2 years of experience, so you’re officially open to apply to most jobs. If you don’t have any experience, you’ve probably already noticed that you don’t fit the requirements of about 50% of job postings. (Isn’t it so disappointing to find what sounds like a great job, just to scroll down the posting and find “2+ years of experience required?”)
No matter where you are in your career, from job #1 to #21, you need to know how to carefully read, as well as interpret, what a job posting is actually telling you. More importantly, you need to extrapolate out what a job posting is NOT telling you, as that may turn a great job prospect into a nightmare of a career move. With 15 years of clinical experience and 6 job changes between Jordan Fisher and myself, we want to give you some PRO TIPS about how to navigate a job search. First, let’s start with where to look:
NATIONAL JOB SEARCH WEBSITES
PA STATE CHAPTER WEBSITES WITH JOB POSTINGS
SPECIALTY-SPECIFIC ORGANIZATION JOB POSTINGS
HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS’ WEBSITES
Now that you know where to look for PA jobs, let’s get into what you need to know to best navigate through the thousands of job postings out there. Many of the resources above will allow you to narrow down your search through various filters, whether it be by specialty, salary range, experience required or location. Be as specific as possible if you know what you want, such as with specialty or location. If you’re a new grad and still unsure on which specialty you want to go into, keep your search options more open.
Here is some of what you will initially see from your Indeed searches, followed by a breakdown of what these things really mean:
HIRING MULTIPLE CANDIDATES
If a potential employer is “hiring multiple candidates,” that may be to your advantage. They are likely either expanding their practice, have had trouble retaining clinicians recently, or may be looking to hire a variety of roles (per diem, part-time, full-time). Whatever is the truth, you should see this as you having a better chance at landing one of these jobs, with the potential to have more leverage during compensation discussions.
Now, if you see “urgently hiring”, that employer has shown you their hand, and probably has a desperate need to fill a job. This screams leverage for you, but it also should set off alarm bells as to why this place is having such a hard time getting a qualified candidate (especially multiple candidates in the picture above).
You’ll need to investigate the reasons behind the urgent need to hire, but note that it could just be that someone quit abruptly due to personal reasons. Should you apply to such a posting, your odds of getting an interview will be higher, and when it comes time to negotiate, you will likely have more success.
When you see a large salary range as pictured above, it’s hard to know where you’ll land within that range. The more experience that you have, the higher the compensation that you will command…this is what they mean when they say “commensurate with experience.”
You can also assume that the folks making the $140,000 annual salary are working their tails off, seeing tons of patients, doing procedures and dedicating huge chunks of their time and energy to their jobs. If you’re unwilling to be a workaholic, then you probably won’t be the PA hitting the high end of the salary range mentioned.
LOAN REPAYMENT/TUITION ASSISTANCE
If you see an employer offering this, get excited! This usually means that the employer is going to give you money, in addition to your salary, specifically to help you pay down your student loans. They will typically offer you a set about annually, with a cap as to how many years you will be eligible. For example, my current employer offers $10,000 annually for up to 5 years, and they pay it out on each work anniversary. As I said before, this is on top of the rest of my compensation, and all I have to do is stick around and do my job. With the average student loan debt being around $116,000, I see loan repayment options as the holy grail of benefits.
But, keep in mind that popular places to work don’t have to offer this to be competitive, and most places that do offer it are using it as a recruitment and retention tool, so do approach with a cautious optimism about the offer. Lastly, get the details about this, such as if you’d ever have to pay any of it back should you break your contract or get fired, as that would be terrible to then owe such a large amount of money!
Secondary to loan repayment, relocation assistance is an amazing selling point when job searching. Many places that offer this outright, on their job posting, likely are doing so to attract more candidates, including from afar. So, don’t forget to ask yourself: “Why can’t they recruit people more easily?” (Also file away the thought that if they have a tough time with recruiting employees, then you just might have some leverage when it comes down to negotiation time).
Relocating to somewhere new, even not too far away, can easily cost thousands of dollars and be a major hassle. So, if you can get this partially or fully covered, you’ll be able to save yourself a lot of money. Don’t forget, if you’re relocating for a new job, you likely aren’t currently getting a paycheck, and have other big expenses coming your way (first, last + security deposits for home renters, mortgage down payments for home buyers, etc.). In my current role, I was able to have my move from California to Vermont, then from New Hampshire to Vermont, fully covered, saving us thousands.
If the employer doesn’t offer this benefit, consider negotiating for it, as Jordan has previously done successfully. But, read the fine print with this, as some employers will consider this benefit as a loan subject to contractual stipulations, and they may turn around and ask for it back if you break your contract (such as leaving that job early).
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Take a look at these examples from real job postings, and see past what they are saying:
Now, read over this job posting:
Not very much information about the actual job itself, right? If the job posting seems to spend more time selling you on the idea of living in an area, or on how there are great places within a few hours drive, what they aren’t saying is that the location of your work and home may not be such a desirable place. You just might be winding up in a small town, somewhere more rural, which for some is truly appealing. For others, moving to such places may feel like “social suicide”, and be a regrettable decision from day #1.
I do appreciate that these ads let you know that these lovely cities, Boston and Montreal, are not that far away, but the question that you need to ask yourself is “Am I actually going to want to do that drive regularly, once I am settled into my new job and residence?” My first location was not ideal for my personal situation, so I did the “get outta dodge” thing very frequently, making any excuse to hit the road, but I found it exhausting, not to mention expensive.
If you don’t currently do frequent day and weekend trips, or regular visits to places similar to what they’re selling you on as being close in proximity, then you probably won’t change your habits after you move somewhere new. When you’re in the heat of the moment, daydreaming of a career change, with a new employer courting you by saying all of the right things, you need to stay objective and grounded in who you really are and what your reality really is.
Breaking down job postings can be tough. We hope this helps lift the curtain as to what some postings actually mean. Happy job hunting!
If after reading this, you are still left with questions about job postings, give us a shout:
DISCLAIMERS: 1) The views expressed here are our own and do not necessarily represent the views of our employers. 2) We don’t know what we don’t know, so feel free to message us if you don’t agree with something that you read. 3) We do have affiliate agreements with companies, so by clicking on our links and making any purchases, we may earn some money on those generated sales.
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