6 tips to land that Echo job

After a long break away from the computer I have been nudged back into writing with a flurry of activity on the jobs board.

Echocardiography is a fantastic career choice. The field is constantly evolving, and there are endless job opportunities making it an exciting long term option. A career in echo can take us around the world, branch off to eduction/training, research, management or an applications/sales role for a vendor; Every week I’m meeting readers who have found new directions to take their echo career. I have been fortunate to have sampled many of the different aspects to our field, and have now added website founder to the resume… There are record numbers of trainee sonographers about to enter the workforce, so how do you stay ahead of the pack to land the dream job??
This is not an exhaustive list, but my 6 tips will get you a long way to get noticed when hiring. These are also the factors I consider when I am sorting through applications or conducting interviews.

Today’s post came after a series of emails asking for job hunting tips and a great post asking about tips for live-scanning interviews. Thinking about how competitive the job market can be reminded me of a great scene from “Fun with Dick and Jane”, where the character played by Jim Carrey arrives at a job interview and quickly finds he is not the only applicant about to be interviewed. – watch the clip here.

Tip #1 – Old-fashioned first impressions count.
asleep in chairDid I hire the person who misspelled “heart” 27 times in their resume? Absolutely not! (Yes this really happened!!) If an applicant can’t at least pay enough attention to their own resume, I can’t expect them to pay any attention to the patient’s heart. If you are going to connect with potential employers using social media, then use a professional looking headshot. A photo of that time you passed out drunk at a party and your friends decorated your face is hilarious, but probably not the attention you want to attract from potential employers. The sonographer is going to interact with patients and be the face of the organisation – show them the best you.

  • Error check the resume/job application
  • If you are going to allow potential employers to find you on social media, make it look presentable
  • Consider a professional headshot if you are using social media to put yourself out there
  • For the interview, dress professionally
  • Eye contact, a firm handshake and well polished pair of shoes will get you a long way!

Tip #2 – don’t be embarrassed of (or even hide) your previous jobs.
You think the time at McDonald’s was a waste of time?? Think again.

Nobody is too important to serve another person. Remember, every life experience adds to our richness.

Nobody is too important to serve another person. Remember, every life experience adds to our richness.

One of the most useful traits in my arsenal is life-experience. At times I have driven taxi cabs, managed a pizza store, painted houses, repaired sewer lines, operated earthmoving equipment and worked as a personal trainer. This experience has demonstrated a clear commitment to completing my studies (I didn’t take the easy road getting my degree…often working two jobs and studying full time to make ends meet). I have had to work/communicate effectively with people from a wide range of backgrounds. I have learned the lessons of good service (hospitality industry), attention to detail and fine motor skills (construction and earthworks) and developed excellent patient care in clients (fitness industry). Each life experience adds to your richness and increases the chances that you will be able to relate/empathise with your patients. EVERYBODY can learn something from the jobs you have done in the past.

Don’t have any prior job history??? Go volunteer. Pick an area outside of a hospital setting and enrich your resume. Every other applicant went to uni and has become a sonographer…do something unique and stand out from the crowd.

Tip #3 – Ask yourself “why should they hire me??”
If you can’t answer this question, then don’t expect to get the job. If you can answer that question prior to going into an interview, you can pretty much guarantee the position is yours. Reflect on this BEFORE the interview. I once saw a manager ask that very question in an interview…the scared applicant couldn’t give a single reason why the manager should hire him.
If you don’t get asked this in the interview, tell them anyway! The job is yours, you need to tell them why they need you to be part of the team.

Tip #4 – Stand on your own feet.

if you have trained under a distinguished mentor, acknowledge it, but don’t let that be your only achievement. We have all seen ordinary sonographers slip through centers of excellence without really gaining anything from the experience. Your highlight should not be that you worked somewhere… You should be able to stand on your own feet from your accomplishments! Consider what else you did with your time. I am not interested in the person who worked in a center of excellence and did nothing. I will hire the person who worked in the lab next door, and demonstrated a commitment to improving themselves and the lab over the other guy…every single time!

Tip #5 – Tell the truth.

Employers don’t want cowboys (no disrespect to actual cowboys..) I would much rather you told me outright whatPinocchio_iosphere your limitations are. Can’t do stress echo? That’s fine, just tell me and I can train you…the biggest mistake is pretending you can do something and potentially endangering your patients.

We must work within our boundaries or scope of practice. It endangers our patients if we pretend to be someone we are not. This is not a suggestion, this is a rule!

Tip #6 – Nail the live demo!

You have gotten through the interviews and other hurdles of the selection process…the job is yours! You just need to do a live scan to demonstrate your scanning skills. Now is not the time to freak out!
You are a sonographer. This is what you do every day…and hopefully what you will be doing every day for a while. My advice is not to do anything fancy. Don’t try and show off, just be yourself. Never done a PISA measurement before?? Now is not the time to give it a try. The employer just wants to see that you are competent. Attempting something you aren’t good at will only end badly (see tip #5). The live scanning demo never gets easier. Whether you are scanning in front of a workshop, or scanning in a job interview, or your clinical exam at the end of your studies, it is always daunting. Try and get as much practice as you can of having people watch you scan. Practice scanning with someone watching over your shoulder. Encourage feedback on your scanning from someone you don’t know. Find a mentor or someone you don’t know very well (who does know a bit about echo) and ask them to critique a scan you do in front of them. And remember, you got this (see tip #3)! This is what you do every day.

I am lucky to work clinically in a truly amazing and unique workplace. I balance my clinical load with my passion for teaching. Despite this, even I have the job that got away. I applied for my dream job many years ago. It wasn’t that I wasn’t suited for the role, I just didn’t appreciate the importance of these 6 tips and undersold myself. In particular, I ignored tips 2 and 3 (and maybe a little of tip 1) and didn’t even make it to interview. I wouldn’t make those mistakes again, and I hope that you don’t either.

Add to the list of tips by commenting below. Put the tips to use, and check out job vacancies at the job board.

Good luck job hunting!


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