The New Graduate Optometrist Guide to Job Searching

It is nearing the end of fourth year or residency, and with boards and completion of state licensure requirements out of the way, the overwhelming anxiety of where you will find a job begins to weigh down upon you.

Many new graduates do not have the opportunity to walk into an established practice that has been in the family for years. For those that do, the prospect of finding a job after graduating may be a lot less stressful, but for the vast majority of new optometrists, the job hunt is very real and can be very frustrating.

Where to search? Who to contact? Where to start? These are all very important questions that many schools, unfortunately, do not provide great answers to. The following article serves as a resource guide on where and how to go about searching for jobs after graduation.

The first question that must be answered is what kind of setting do you want to work in?

  • commercial
  • industry
  • private practice
  • optical
  • hospitals
  • academia
  • consulting

As a new graduate, you must manage your expectations. The harsh reality is that most new graduates find themselves working weekends, late nights, and several part-time jobs to fill their schedules. It may not be the ideal situation at first; however, like any other career, you need to work your way up the ladder until your dream job opens up.

You may have always dreamed of working in a private practice setting, but these opportunities can be difficult to find. Jobs working in opticals and commercial settings are a bit easier to acquire in the beginning.

You must always remember, your first job is not always your last! – Antonio Chirumbolo O.D.

Location can also play a large role in your job searching success. It is true, finding a job in certain states or cities can be difficult, but remember, it can be done with hard work, patience, and a little bit of luck.

Now that you are ready to begin looking, the question becomes where to look and what resources to use?

CovalentCareers.com

CovalentCareers.com is emerging as the largest online platform to find optometrist jobs.
Resume Robot By CovalentCareers Analyze my Resume

This is an HR technology startup and the healthcare industry’s first online job matching platform and is extremely promising. I highly recommend creating a free online resume with them and putting yourself out there! The tool is designed to offer an alternative to the outdated concept of “job boards” that can be very tedious!

The platform utilizes a proprietary matchmaking algorithm which analyzes data from the employer and employee profiles to score and rank “best fit” matches. The algorithm considers key employment factors such as location, contract type (full-time, part-time or fill-in), specialty experience, corporate culture, personality and much more. While the initial launch is designed for optometrists and optical staff, ophthalmologists and ophthalmic technicians will be incorporated in the coming months. Eventually, coverage will be extended to all healthcare industries.

Google

Be sure not to overlook what you use every day, Google. A quick Google search of “Optometry Jobs” will likely generate thousands of links. The absolute best job listing sites that I have personally found are:

Both resources obtain job postings from all of the sites on the web and provide a nice succinct list of these postings. Both websites are completely free as well. There are many websites like IhireOptometry.com that charge a membership fee. Quite frankly, I can tell you from my experience that the job postings they provide are almost identical to the listings available for free.

AOAExcel

  • AOAExcel – Optometry’s Career Center

Also, a great resource for new graduates to use. This site has countless job postings all over the country. As an optometry student, you are automatically given membership to AOAExcel using your AOSA ID , so be sure to utilize this resource.

Optometry School Websites

Optometry school websites often list practice opportunities in their career or alumni centers. Most school listings are available to the general public for viewing. Some sites are restricted to alumni of that particular school. I found the following school portals very helpful:

State & Local Optometric Associations

Most state optometric associations offer free membership to new graduates for the first year out of graduation. Take advantage of this opportunity.

State optometric associations are a great way to not only network and build contacts, but they also have classified ads! Some state associations allow the general public to view listings, while others only allow members. I found the following state association classified sections very helpful during my job search.

Here is a list of all state optometric associations. You should look into membership because this will pay off in a million other ways.

Obviously, there are a lot more state associations out there, so be sure to search for them and look at their classified sections if available to the general public! In addition, do not be afraid to email the president of your state association or even your local association. Local associations are an even better resource because they usually consist of a tight group of people, where someone is bound to know others seeking help in your area!

Your Personal Network

Use your personal network of connections.

  • Email or call your eye doctor or doctors you have shadowed in the past.
  • Contact your drug, contact lens, frame and laser vision representatives in your area. They always know what doctors are looking for help.
  • Ask your friends to mention you to their eye doctors! In fact, that is how I got set up with my first job!
  • LinkedIn is a great way to make connections. There are a lot of opportunities, especially for commercial practice posted on Linkedin. In fact, many district managers will reach out to you informing you of opportunities.

This is the method that Dr. Matthew Geller, founder of NewGradOptometry.com used…

About 6 months before graduation is when I set out to look for my first career. I didn’t use job boards but instead went through my rolodex of everyone I knew in optometry. I had probably 35 people I knew really well and I sent them all a personal, hand tailored e-mail telling them I was looking for my first career. That list of 35 turned into about 50 people as I was referred from person to person. I kept an excel spreadsheet to track all my hot and cold leads and I was very diligent about following up. I talked with about 4 ODs in San Diego on the phone, but I took my talents to the practice of Dr. Eric White in the end. We hit it off on the phone and became friends, talking a few times a week. I can write an article about this if you want! Just comment below! – Matt Geller O.D.

Cold Call or E-mail

Lastly, there is the cold call or email, especially if you are new to an area and have no other contacts or leads. You can prepare an email or script and send it out to or call the doctors in the area you wish to practice in.

Chances are you will be ignored, but, there is a chance you will contact the right doctor who is looking for help. This cold mass email, in fact, worked for a colleague of mine, so it never hurts to try.

In Summary

Patience, luck, hard work, and timing all play a role in job hunting. It can be frustrating from time to time, especially if you are not having any luck, but there are jobs out there, and things always have a habit of working themselves out!

Be sure to comment or ask questions! Share your personal favorite job hunting portals and experiences. If we get enough comments, I’ll even provide a sample cover letter! A cover letter is an essential tool in the job hunt, make sure you have one prepared.

About Antonio Chirumbolo

Antonio Chirumbolo
Antonio Chirumbolo, OD, is Associate Director of Marketing at CovalentCareers. Antonio's focus is in the world of digital publications and healthcare marketing, with special attention on content creation, management, and development.

6 comments

  1. Great article! As a 3rd year student, the future job search that looms ahead is always in the back of my mind. I’m sure many optometry students would love to hear more!

    • Matthew Geller

      Hey Ben – we are going to be putting out a ton more on this topic. It is so needed! The industry expects 4th year students like yourself to just “figure it out” but really, it’s not that easy. We are here for you, don’t worry!

  2. Lisa Pallagi

    Excellent article! Thank you for the recommended links, many great places to start! I was hoping to get some tips for writing a standout cover letter. The article regarding resumes is really helpful, wondering if you have any advice for cover letters! Thanks!

    • Antonio Chirumbolo

      Hey Lisa, so happy you found this helpful! I haven’t written many cover letters simply because I haven’t had to do too much job searching aside from the few jobs I held and currently hold. In general, I think you should keep a cover letter short, sweet, and to the point. Below is a cover letter I had written for a job when I first graduated, that highlighted my interest and extra training in fitting specialty contact lenses. Maybe it might give you an idea (I omitted some parts).

      Looking back, I might have done a few things differently, and some might completely disagree and think this is a bogus cover letter (hahah) but maybe it might give you some ideas.
      ———-

      03/03/13

      To Whom It May Concern:

      I am interested in the opening Optometrist position, posted on the AOA Excel website. I will be a new graduate in June of 2013 and am looking to return to Pittsburgh to begin a career in a well established practice such as xxxxxx. I understand that a practice as well developed as yours is likely looking for an applicant with years of experience; however, as a new graduate, I have been trained with all the latest technology, educated in the most current developments in the field of eye care, and possess an eagerness and enthusiasm to learn and excel as I begin a new career.

      Throughout the course of my clinical training, I have had the opportunity to deliver primary eye care to a diverse population of all ages, and have worked closely with ophthalmologists in the co-management of these patients. I believe one of my greatest strengths is my ability to develop a strong rapport with patients and ultimately earn their trust and cooperation, leading to patient compliance and patient retention.

      During my clinical training in a specialty contact lens clinic, I became highly skilled in the fitting of specialty and medically necessary lenses. My experience in the fitting of these lenses can be a valuable asset to a practice that currently offers these services, or can provide a practice an opportunity to expand their services and offer these specialized types of fittings.

      I aspire to work in an environment where I can utilize my training to deliver quality care to patients, help the practice grow and strengthen, and learn from the current team of skilled and experienced clinicians to improve my own abilities, knowledge base, and help me flourish. I am confident that I possess the clinical, interpersonal, and communication skills necessary to exceed in your practice and develop a strong working relationship with the current team of clinicians.

      I have included my resume to provide a summary of my qualifications and background for your review. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss my qualifications and candidacy in further detail. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

      Sincerely,

      Antonio Chirumbolo

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