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Jennifer Alastanos, PharmD, BCPP, BCPS 
Clinical Pharmacist, Behavioral Health
St. Joseph's Behavioral Health Center
Tampa, FL

Joseph Cusimano, PharmD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice
Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy
Winchester, VA

“In the small matters trust the mind, in the large ones the heart.” —Sigmund Freud 

One of the most daunting tasks for a newly practicing pharmacist is finding where to practice. This quest involves difficult decisions that may have far reaching consequences beyond the professional domain of a person’s life. For the graduating resident, this may be completely uncharted territory. There is no magical computer algorithm to do the sorting and picking for you; instead, you must balance the challenge of navigating multiple opportunities yourself. If the thought of that scares you, you’re not alone. This article seeks to demystify the post-residency job search and provide practical tips for the new practitioner.

Applying for multiple jobs

For those seeking hospital positions, it is prudent to begin the search prior to December, as this permits use of the ASHP Personal Placement Service (PPS) during the Midyear Clinical Meeting. PPS can also help you find positions in academia, industry, or fellowships. CPNP maintains a helpful list of employment opportunities as well. Ask your mentors, preceptors, and colleagues about open positions.

It may be helpful to organize prospective employers into a spreadsheet, like this one:

Employer

Position

Location

Pros

Cons

Interview

Vienna General Hospital

Psychiatric Pharmacist

Vienna, Austria

  • Historic
  • Large
  • Far from home

Not yet!

Consider adding columns based on the parameters that matter most to you (e.g. opportunity to work with a pediatric population, collaborative practice, cafeteria quality). 

When talking to recruiters, focus on asking questions that speak to the heart of your values. Our personal lives are inextricably linked to our professional lives, and it is important to ensure that you will be happy living where you practice pharmacy. Make sure that your other responsibilities are well-managed during the interview season so that you can focus on the job search.

Navigating multiple job offers

Receiving multiple job offers is certainly a good problem to have, but it can also lead to increased stress. Using your pros and cons list (as above) can prove invaluable in narrowing down your final decision. However, if you are applying to multiple jobs with different timelines, this may be more challenging.

How long can you wait to give your final answer?

This will depend on the specific job and their timeline. If the job has several prospective candidates, they may expect a quick response. Once an offer is received, you should first acknowledge and express your interest in the position. Consider offering a timeframe to respond and ensure it is acceptable to the potential employer, or you can ask if there is a deadline. Requesting time to review the terms of the offer or asking to negotiate the terms can buy you more time before making your final decision.

What do you do if you have a job offer, but are still waiting to hear back from a job you really want?

This can be a tricky situation. Using a few of the above tactics to determine the timeline of the potential employer will give you time to follow up with the additional site(s) of interest. If you have already had an interview, you can ask for their updated timeline for completing interviews and extending potential offers. Make the site aware you are very interested, but you have another potential job offer to consider. This may provide additional information to help shape your final decision. Lastly, you can be honest with the site who extended an offer stating you are still interviewing and ask if you can have additional time prior to making your final decision. The key is clear communication with the employers and to always reiterate your interest in the position.

Conclusion

Applying for jobs after residency is an exciting yet stressful time. Your first job does not have to be your dream job, but you want to ensure it is professionally rewarding. Remember to enjoy the process and utilize your pharmacy mentors to help you navigate this next step in your professional career.

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