Starting Your Job Search Early

January 9, 2019

January 9, 2022

Congratulations! You’ve wrapped up optometry school. You’re all moved into your new apartment. You’ve landed the residency of your dreams and you’re eager to start seeing patients, growing your skills and crushing life. Time to pat yourself on the back and relax for a while, right?

Not so fast!

The time to start your career search is now. Some may argue that it’s pointless to start the job hunt this far ahead of residency completion – essentially one year prior to when you’ll start working as a non-resident optometrist. I would counter by asking what, if any, are the benefits of waiting? This article will highlight reasons to consider starting your career search early.


Beginning the job hunt now offers plenty of time to discover and land your dream optometry position. It is much less stressful knowing that you have one year to complete a task than a couple of months. Low stress leads to positive outcomes – better mental health, improved physical health, and a clearer ability to focus on important tasks throughout your day. As a resident, your most important job should be growing as a clinician and providing the best care to patients.

Furthermore, what’s not to like about planning ahead? Signing a contract prior to the end of the calendar year would provide plenty of time to prepare for the next move. Apartment leases, travel plans, and establishing relationships can all begin to be sorted out once a job contract is in place.

The peace of mind that comes with finalizing an employment agreement is priceless.

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One of the biggest questions that residents may have in regard to the career search is how or where to begin in the first place. Fortunately, there are several job boards available for optometrists to browse in exploration of great openings. Some resources include the AOA Career Center, LinkedIn, and state association websites, with more to come soon.

In a perfect world, residents would plan and decide what city(ies) they would most like to live in. If that is the case, ODs can research their desired destination and search for offices in nearby areas to narrow down potential work locations. Then, optometrists should take the initiative to reach out to said locations and introduce themselves. Let the practice owner (and/or practice manager) know who you are, the residency specialty that you’re pursuing, and that you would love to inquire if they would be interested in hiring a young OD soon. Of course, they could say no – but it doesn’t hurt to ask.


One thing that you may learn is that the more “rejections” you receive, the easier it is to continue putting yourself out there. We soon learn that rejection is usually not as bad as it seems, and you realize that being turned down is not the end of the world. Mark Twain once said, “I am but an old man and have known a great many troubles, most of which never happened.” Being turned down for a job is not failing. And besides, the perception of failure is often worse than the reality.

Lastly, don’t forget to attend as many meetings as you can during your residency. Attending conferences is a wonderful way to network and introduce yourself to colleagues, several which will likely be looking to hire at some point in the future.


Now, you may read this article and ask, “What’s the worst that could happen if I don’t start applying to jobs now?” Think back to your mindset prior to applying for residency positions. Did you craft a wonderful resume and CV? Did you reach out to colleagues and ask lots of questions? Did you prepare for the intense experience that is the residency application and interview process? In other words, did you take steps to put yourself in the best position possible for success? The likely answer to all the above is YES.

Preparing for a career in optometry is like preparing yourself for residency positions. The best residency positions aren’t filled at the last second. Similarly, employers with the best optometry positions don’t wait to hire late in the game. Great jobs can get scooped up if you wait too long.

Furthermore, (most) all of us know what it’s like to cram for an exam when we should have been better prepared. Likewise, putting the job hunt off until late in residency is a recipe for unreasonable stress. The end of residency is the time when you should be focused on learning, improving clinical skills, and becoming the best doctor you can be.

On a final note, when it comes to applying for career positions early in residency the simple truth is that no one else is doing it. Think about the advantage you would have by doing something that no one else is doing. Put yourself in a better position to stand out as an applicant. Apply to career positions NOW.

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