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Finding that perfect job is a lot of work, and that's no secret. Whether you're fresh out of residency, have been in the same job for years, or are ready to take that leap of faith and apply for that desirable position at your dream institution–finding it and working to get it can be daunting and exhausting.

This is an edited version of a story previously published on Dr. Bill.

With hundreds of job boards and recruiters, not to mention the stiff competition, finding where to start and how to go about it can get a bit overwhelming. While creating a targeted resume, writing the perfect cover letter, and building a strong personal brand are all important to finding your dream job, it’s equally crucial to have a clear objective and not to lose yourself in the job search process.

1. Answer the question – “What is my dream job”

What position are you looking for? Are you looking at a specific city or at a specific institution? Narrowing down your choices will help you get a more focused and clear picture. Stanford Medicine shared a roadmap that can help you better navigate your preference by answering a few questions:

  • What are your areas of scientific/clinical interest?
  • Do you prefer a surgical, medical, or mixed specialty?
  • What times of activities do you want to engage in?
  • How much patient contact and continuity do you prefer?
  • What type of patient population would you like to work with?
  • How important is work/life balance?
  • How important is earning potential?

2. Identify your career values

Knowing what your career values are will help you look in the right direction and better articulate why you’re an ideal candidate for that position. It’ll help you add that extra layer of value to your answer. And instead of just saying, “this is a great role and I think I’ll be good at it.”, you’ll be able to add more value to your response with something such as: “Based on my skills and interests, in my dream job, I would want to give that additional care to patients ideally in a hospital where I get the perfect balance of independence and support. These are both really important to me, and I’m excited to see that they seem to be equally important to this hospital. I value this quality in particular—it’s the reason I’m so excited to be interviewing for this position.”

3. Give it all your energy

Job hunting is not a side activity; it’s a full-time job. Ensure to schedule time and work diligently on each and every aspect of your job application. Don’t underestimate the importance of taking breaks. For sake of simplicity, The Bagg Group, a Toronto-based agency, suggests breaking down your job hunt by separating different tasks into batches of the same activity. Here’s what that might look like:

Day 1: Spend a block of time going through all the job postings and save links to jobs that you really think you might enjoy.

Day 2: Spend time looking at your initial list and weed out the jobs that aren’t actually a good fit for you.

Day 3: This is a customizing day. Tweak both your resume and cover letter so it uses the same keywords as the job posting and highlights the qualifications they are looking for that you have. Send off each application after you’ve customized it so you don’t accidentally send a customized resume to the wrong employer.

Day 4: Restart the process. Using the “batching” method helps improve focus and productivity by completing one task instead of just multitasking. Organize your days and limit the amount of time you spend on looking for, and applying to jobs, so you stay motivated.

4. Look in the right places

There are a ton of job boards and agencies that it might be overwhelming or daunting. It’s up to you if you’d prefer to use an agency, or apply directly. The main thing to remember is to only apply for jobs that really spark your interest. Think twice before applying and a third time before accepting a job offer.

Here are some popular recruitment sites across Canada:

5. How to use linkedin to find your dream job

LinkedIn is more than just a real estate to house your online resume. You can use LinkedIn for applying to specific jobs and also to follow hospitals, clinics or workplaces you’d like to work at and try to connect. Through joining groups, posting articles, and engaging with other healthcare professionals from the industry, you can be on the radar.

There are other medical groups and networking resources that will help you advertise yourself. Just make sure your profile is up to date and use it actively; you never know who might stumble across it.

6. Start Networking Actively

The role of good networking in career growth can’t be emphasized enough. Try connecting with relevant people including those who hold the same designation, work in the same sector, or are employed by your dream institution. They can be of great help by introducing you to others in their professional circle and helping you get a foot in the door.

Word of mouth and networking are still very popular ways to find out about new job opportunities. If you’ve enjoyed the places you’ve already worked or volunteered at, ask about current job opportunities or future positions.

If there’s nothing available, go ahead and ask for a referral, recommendation or some good old-fashioned advice. Talking to people about what you’re looking for and what type of work you’d love to do is a great way to start networking and getting feelers for what’s out there.

7. Be well prepared for the interview

As a candidate, it’s nearly impossible for you to predict the questions you’ll be asked at the interview, but you can prepare for some expected ones. Dress well, speak confidently and display a positive and open body language.

Remember to have a good career story—one that ties up all your past experiences and leads to what you intend to do in the future in a clear, crisp, and precise manner. Choosing a job that is close to your existing skill set and your career ambition will increase your chances of getting it.

While finding your dream job is a challenging process, it surely is rewarding once you land it. The question is how do you find it? What’s needed is a clear objective and proactive approach that’s backed by hard work and a smart job search strategy. Use your network and platforms such as LinkedIn to get noticed and build your brand. It’s your cumulative work that eventually helps you land that dream job.

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