This year in New Zealand it has been significantly more difficult for new graduate ocupational therapists to find work. This appears to have been for a number of reasons:
- The first most obvious – the world wide recession, times are tighter workplaces worldwide are more cautious. We have noticed a significant reduction in occupational therapists heading off for their big OE (for those non New Zealanders OE = Overseas Experience) with occupational therapy work being difficult to obtain in places such as the UK .
- District Health Boards in New Zealand are feeling the pinch
- Changes in ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) have meant that many occupational therapy agencies/companies have lost contracts or had reduced work . Those staff affected have appeared to move back into district health board employment, changing the usual balance in these workplaces of internal promotion versus external appointments and thus not freeing up the positions traditionally taken by new graduates.
This has meant that there are still a number of new graduates seeking work but not yet in work. On a positive note there does seem in recent weeks to have been an increase in new grads being offered work. It is interesting to note that on seek.nz (internet job search web site) there are currently 30-40 occupational therapy jobs advertised thoughout NZ. All of these are not new graduate positions, however one would hope that the stepping up of others into these positions will free new graduate positions.
What to do meanwhile – my advice (for what it is worth!)
- Keep your focus don’t give up
- prepare prepare prepare – do your homework for each position you wish to apply for. Find out as much as you can about the job, the organisation and the people in it. Use the internet, people you know, ring and ask questions about the post (work out carefully what you wish to ask before you call ) and then use the information you gain in your application letter and to help you prepare for the interview
- Write your letter specifically for the job you are applying for (don’t use a generic one).
- Make sure your CV is up to date. Put on your CV any part time work you are doing at the moment and any volunteer work you might be doing
- Consider volunteering – volunteer work can be a useful stepping stone into work, it can mean that you are gaining skills by working in an area related one you wish to gain emplyment in.
- Make sure you gain feedback from previous interviews. What did they see as your strengths, ask them about how you presented at the interview, how well you answered the questions, did your knowledge and understanding come though, was there an are you were weak in.
- Build up your networks, be seen in occupational therapy circles
- Practice interviews, have someone give feedback on your CV, letters etc
- Keep your referees up to date witht he jobs you are being interviewed for – as their reaction when telephoned for a reference check can help
- Stay cool, some of getting work is being in the right place at the right time
If you are a new grad from Otago Polytechnic and still looking for work and wanting suport or help please call.