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Outside the Box OT Job Ideas

Sarah Putt, MA, OTR/L

The current job market is a little crazy right now, amirite?

Between the world being shut down and places not really hiring secondary to Rona. I have heard from so many OT practitioners (new grads and seasoned providers alike) that can not for the life of them find any place that is hiring.

The traditional occupational therapy job market, as we know it, is different for the time being. It is sparse right about now and that is making practitioners pretty darn nervous about what’s to come.

The Impetus of this Post

The other day I had a new grad reach out to me via DM and we were discussing the current job market. She asked me a few questions about an opportunity that she was given, but I could tell that she didn’t really feel like it was the best fit for her. Upon further discussion, I asked her if she had any other skills that she felt could be useful at this time and that’s when it hit me.

We as occupational therapy practitioners are skilled at thinking outside the box for our clients and coming up with awesome, non-textbook treatment ideas. So why can’t we think outside of the box when it comes to our job search?

From the Business Side

Companies and small businesses are all being hit hard right now. Many have had to close down, drastically cut hours or lay off employees, or have had to move into the uncharted waters of teletherapy. Every company is experiencing their own pain points right now and the owners, managers, and employees are left to pick up the pieces and do everything in their power to hold the business together. Additionally, while also trying to process and comprehend this whole pandemic on a personal level as well.

Many employers and employees are spending time addressing things that they typically do not have to think about. People are being stretched in ways that I don’t think they could have ever anticipated.

From the Practitioner Side

Additionally, there is a pool of highly qualified, highly educated professionals that want to work. They want to help and contribute during this time of need, but can’t seem to find a place that is hiring.

So on the one hand, we have businesses and business owners who are struggling and stressed with everything that is going on. But we also have a bunch of practitioners who are wanting to work. So rather than let everyone just continue to be frustrated and isolated in their own bubble, why not bridge that gap and bring together these groups.

The world in which we know it has changed and in order to continue to make forward progress, we need to pivot and get thinking outside the box.

Thinking Outside the Job Market Box

Now, going back to the conversation I had the other day. The new grad and I started brainstorming about other skills she had that might benefit a company.

Was she good at social media or video editing? What about finding and translating literature? Or website building? What about building client relationships?

And that made me realize that there are tons of other skills that occupational therapy practitioners possess which could benefit companies.

Now this takes a little effort on your part to come up with skills that you are trained in or recognize skills that you could dive into and learn right now. And then in it will take effort to reach out to companies and connect with them about how you can help and why they need this.

And maybe nothing will come of it. You might actually hit a bunch of dead ends and hear a lot of nos.

But you also might make a connection with a company that you want to work for and this might get your the foot in the door. Maybe they won’t be able to pay you practitioner rates at the current moment, but it gets you experience with the company and then potentially when they have an opening, your name will already be on their list.

It’s Time to Pivot

So rather than complain, let’s pivot. It’s time to shift our way of thinking and recognize what we can bring to the table. Then go out there and see who can benefit from what we have to offer.

Here are a few out-the-box ideas that I came up with:

  1. Data entry & digitalization
  2. Video content creation
  3. Compile client testimonials
  4. Telehealth (transition to/ literature/ helping therapists & clients)
  5. Following up with clients (current & previous)
  6. Help local businesses (not necessarily OT companies) access their clients & also assisting their clients access their company
  7. Program development
  8. Social media
  9. Marketing
  10. Straight up ask the company how you can help

These are just a few that I thought of, but I’m sure there are a million other ideas out there. If you are currently doing any outside of the box OT work, let me know so I can add it to the list. Would love to know you thoughts on how you are navigating the job market during this time.

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