It’s Time to Shine
I enjoy answering the ever-arising question by new graduates, how do I land my dream job?
Most students have a general idea of where they want to work, and it's usually at a close-by facility. However, not all ultrasound labs will be the best fit for your clinical experience. Here are some tips for choosing the best facility to enhance your skills during your search for a clinical site and a job after you graduate:
General vs. Specialty
A wholesome general ultrasound program provides students with the option to work in a general ultrasound lab that performs most or all specialties if diagnostic ultrasound examinations (abdominal, small parts, obstetrics and gynecology, vascular, pediatric and/or neonatal sonography). However, some labs offer specialized ultrasound practices in vascular, obstetrics and gynecology, abdominal and small parts, and pediatric and/or neonatal sonography. I recommend that a person's first position as an ultrasound technologist is to work in an all-encompassing lab; however, there are exceptions. A person highly passionate in obstetrics and gynecology, or vascular, for example, who has their heart set on a specialty and has had a chance to rotate through a specialty clinical externship may be a great candidate for a specialty lab..
Make a List of Possible Jobs in Your Area or Intended Area
Do an Internet search for the ultrasound imaging centers, doctor’s offices, and hospitals in your area. Research the facility and lab on their website and see if their mission statement is in line with your work values.
Call the Department, Speak to the Sonographer Supervisor
Many times, a posted job listing contains a human resource representative as the contact. I recommend calling the ultrasound supervisor directly, introducing yourself, and requesting a time to tour the radiology/ultrasound department. This is an opportunity to meet the staff in person and see if the environment is a good working environment for you.
I recommend calling the ultrasound supervisor and make known your interest in working there, even if a job posting has not been made public. See what options they have or intentions they might be considering to hire someone. You might save them costly job posting fees.
If the job requirements say that you must have graduated from an accredited school in ultrasound, or you must have 1-year experience, apply regardless of these details. Where you obtain your education should not limit your marketability and remember, on-the-job trained sonographers get jobs. There is no need to worry about discrimination. As long as you are registered or registry-eligible, you shouldn't have to worry about minor details listed in a job posting. They will hire the right person for the job.
While searching for job postings, you may come across these requirements. Requirements are guidelines, and many human resource departments use canned information already posted on the internet to keep consistent with what other employers are posting. Some organizations have strict policies in place about whom they can hire. For example, be prepared to be subject background checks and disclose any terminations accurately.
Make a Strong Cover Letter
It is essential to becoming somewhat personal in your cover letter. Canned cover letters come across administrator's desk every day. Make your cover letter shine by adding the following details:
- Why you got into diagnostic ultrasound
- Your first and second choices for shifts
- Your work ethic and morals
- Something personally interesting about you
- Why you are the right person for the job (including any experience you have)
How you organize your cover letter is your choice. Good flow for the reader is essential.
Have a Professional Resume Made
The technical process for a professional resume is continually changing. Make sure you are not using outdated techniques for resume structure and design.
Talk highly of your education, all education. You do not have to disclose what grades you received as that information is personal and no one should be asking you that. However, if you have received any recognition, you can bring that up at the right time in an interview if the opportunity presents itself. If you went to a school you didn't feel you got the best attention or education from, try talking about the advantages and how you excelled through a difficult situation. If you didn't like your clinical experience, keep the negativity at bay. Talk about how you overcame challenges in a clinical experience.
Over the years, I have met many sonographers whose school has closed or isn't very good at giving the time they need to be ready to work independently. Many have confessed they had to attend seminars and workshops to gain the skills to be marketable in this field. However, they did it. Moreover, they got the job in the end.
Share Your Weaknesses
Tell them your weaknesses with ultrasound examinations or least favorite and how you are overcoming those deficiencies in your practice. Of course, I’m not referring to scanning skills I am referring to speed or experience. One way to say you need more experience without looking too green is to say that you would like to work at a facility that gives you more exposure to what types of ultrasounds you have a passion for. You might not see all the pathology in a given specialty but making a claim you know what 'normal' looks like, and you are thorough in documenting abnormalities demonstrates that you aren’t afraid to tackle something you haven’t imaged. Also, mentioning you like working directly with the radiologist shows you aren’t afraid to ask questions and learn.
All sonographers, regardless of skill level or years of experience, are continually learning about new technology and skills to acquire more optimal images.
Good luck and comment below if you have any tips to add.