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Job Hunting: Going Beyond the Search Engine

May 16, 2017

Everyone I keep in touch with from my MA (Class of 2015) at MiSPP found a job in psychology after graduation.  I say this to quell the anxiety of the soon to be Class of 2017 and to encourage anyone who is applying to MiSPP, or thinking of applying, that you will be employable if you take the plunge.

If staying at your practicum isn’t an option, you will need a strategy.  Here are a few ideas to try when you are ready to be proactive.

Start with providers.  Community Mental Health (CMH) providers contract with the state to provide mental health (and other) services to local communities.  First, check employment opportunities listed directly on county websites (Oakland, Macomb and beyond).  Once you have exhausted these resources, head over to the Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeast Michigan.  This alliance has an exhaustive list of clinics and agencies (providers) with contact information. 

Now your task is simple but time consuming.  Go through the list and look up local-to-you providers directly.  You may be surprised to find that many post jobs on their individual (read: off the beaten path) websites that will likely have fewer impressions than larger sites.

Connect with your network.  It is a rare psychologist who encounters the idea of “networking” with eager anticipation.  However, if we can reframe the term to simply mean utilizing connections to mental health professionals you already know (hello, social media) to find out who is hiring. 

This doesn’t have to be unpleasant.  You can start by looking at LinkedIn to see where people you know are working.  Send them a message and find out if they recommend the employer.  Another shortcut – reconnect with that one friend or acquaintance from your cohort who still is in touch with everybody.  Then take that person out for lunch and find out the news.

Networking is a process of information gathering.  It can open your eyes to new paths and possible ways to use your degree.  And that is one of the advantages of the MA from MiSPP – there is a lot of flexibility in what you can do with it. 

Combine your passions.  Everyone I met during my MA at MiSPP brought a different story about why they were pursuing this career at this time.  For many people, this was a second career (high school art teacher, military officer, realtor, radiographer, to name a few) or a first career with a somewhat delayed start (this was me).

Whenever possible, try to find work that can combine what initially attracted you to your first career (or whatever you were doing rather than having a first career) with your new skills and experience in clinical psychology.  Here’s my version: my undergrad is in English and I have always loved reading, learning, and writing (I’m a 5, if you speak Enneagram).  The very same day that I accepted a contractual position with a community mental health provider I agreed also to become the Copywriter for MiSPP’s social media. 

The combination of these two jobs stimulates different parts of my brain and offers insight, each job into the other.  What I write and post about online supports my practice.  And, it lets me keep learning all the time. 

Go direct. If you choose to start your job hunt more generally (i.e. googling, “psychology jobs Michigan”), it pays to bypass those employment search engines and go directly to the websites of larger employers near you (universities, hospitals).

Interfacing with these large Human Resources (HR) platforms have several advantages.  First, they can save you time if you create a login and upload your resume and references once and then apply this information automatically to any job that appeals. 

Second, you begin to see all of the various ways that employers seek psychologists or psychotherapists (as we like to call ourselves) including phrases like “Behavioral Specialist” and “Mental Health Assistant”.  Finally, institutional HR sites will have clear and accurate information about required qualifications, hours, and pay that search engines often lack.

Cynthia Ransley, MA, TLLPCynthia Ransley, MA, TLLP is the Social Media Copywriter for MiSPP and practices psychology in Oakland County.  She would be interested to hear your career journey after MiSPP.  Drop her a line: cransley@mispp.edu.