It sounds crazy but the second you get that job offer it’s wise to start preparing for your departure. Let’s face it, on average, most people only ever work for a few years at each job.
You may think you’ll spend your entire career at this job, but things change – office culture changes, changes in your personal life, and a whole host of external factors can force you to move on in the very near future.
Here are some things to plan out and do so that you can make the most of this current job opportunity.
Consider Your Timeline
You may not have a definitive idea of how long you will stay at this job, but you should at least be thinking about a range of time. This is smart not only from a preparation perspective (forcing a plan) but also in terms of the vision you have for your career.
Some hygienists are quite fine with the notion of finding a great employer and staying there for the duration of their career, while others want to experience new settings and challengings at certain markers. Think through for yourself how long you want to work for this employer and don’t be afraid to move it up or back as time goes on – that’s normal. A good timeline will help prepare you for whatever the next phase looks like for you.
Create An Accomplishments Journal
Every career-minded hygienist should keep an accomplishment journal. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but fill it with achievements, wins, and accomplishments. Not just awards or recognition you receive – those are rare! I am talking about on-the-job, every-day things you do that make a difference for your employer, co-workers, and patients.
Maybe it’s a new instrument or technique that improves your service to patients; or maybe it’s a cost-saving measure for your employer; or a protocol that makes life easier for the front office person. Save those! They are gold content for your resume and future job interviews.
I would even recommend that you set a goal to regularly record something (anything) in this journal – say weekly or monthly. If you wait too long, you’ll forget and lose it forever. Plus what a great reference as you look back on your career to see how much you have learned and grown as a professional.
Create a Testimonial Journal
I’ve written several times about testimonial sheets and the powerful tool they are in helping you land a job. But just like your accomplishments, if you don’t regularly add to this part of our career they will soon be forgotten.
Testimonials can be recorded from things people say to you or write about you. Of course, keep patient privacy intact, but often patients will be more than happy to provide a testimonial of how great you are.
Instead of creating a journal for each, combine your accomplishments and testimonials into one journal so that you have more to add and rich resource of content for your job hunting materials.
Target and Watch for Your Dream Job
Keep a short list of offices you would love a shot at working for, either because you know someone there or perhaps you like the service they provide or location to your home. Whatever the reason track them and make sure they have a copy of your resume on file.
I would even reach out to them from time to time to make sure they remember who you are. Figure out ways to network or get to know the staff there so you have inside information about who is coming and going. This may even help you decide you really DON’T want to work there so it’s a valuable exercise on both fronts.
It may be months or years before the right opportunity presents itself, but when it does you’ll be ready and they may even just skip the job announcement and hiring process and flat out recruit you away from your current office.
Create, Maintain, and Repair Relationships
When you have a solid job in place, it’s a good time to really work on building strong relationships with both current and former co-workers and employers. Let them see you as a great team member a valuable friend who has their back.
It’s also a good chance to mend any broken relationships – you have nothing to lose in reaching out to someone you had a disagreement with, truly. Take the high road and develop a strong relationship with everyone you can – you may need them in the future (sometimes karma works that way so it’s best when it’s in your favor). Plus, if you no longer work with someone you had a problem with, you don’t have to see them every day so it should be easier to re-build the relationship not having to be reminded every day of how it fell apart.
Set Some Goals
Once the new job shine wears off you’ll need some things to keep you motivated to grow as a hygienist. Goals are a great way to do that.
Create a set of goals in several categories, examples might include patient communication, mastering new techniques, learning new instruments/tools. And just as the experts will tell you, set short term and long term goals with lots of feedback.
No one wants to think about the next job when you just landed one, but it really does make a difference for your career, both in helping you advance but also in building your confidence and shaping your abilities.