Showing Your Value & Setting Yourself Apart as an AT
By: Keri Sotak, MS, ATC, CES & Alisha Pennington, MS, ATC
Covid-19 has turned many of our lives upside down in more ways than one. Many athletic trainers around the nation have been furloughed or laid off, quite literally overnight. Others may be hanging onto their positions for dear life. Some who have quickly found themselves unemployed may be wondering how they will stack up against other candidates for an open position. This article will help give you some insight on how to support your value to your current employer in hopes of preventing the loss of your job, along with ways you can help yourself stand out among a stack full of fellow job applicants.
Showing Your Value to Your Current Employer
No matter the setting you currently practice in, you should always be able to show the worth and value you bring to the institution or company. Being able to provide evidence to support your position and role are key. Now is the time to put all of that documentation to use! The following are ways you can showcase and present your value to your current employer.
Evidence in Numbers
- Provide the number of patients treated in the last year. Break it down by sport, season,or both. Compare these numbers to previous years, if able. Show the consistency through multiple periods of time, increase or decrease of patients treated. If you are showing a decrease in patients treated, identify why this is, such as implementation of a new injury prevention program or movement screening process.
- Create charts or graphs showing the type of injuries you treated in the last year or period of time by sport, gender, body part, severity, length of playing time missed, etc. Then, provide possible reasoning for any trends or statistics that stick out. For example, if you notice an increase in knee injuries with girls/women’s soccer, a reason may be due to the new turf field installed last summer. These statistics can also be compared to previous years. Provide reasoning for any increases or decreases when comparing to previous years or statistics that stand out by themselves.
- Show how injury prevention programs have decreased injury rates with a specific patient population, or as a population as a whole. Perhaps you work in the clinical setting and have recently implemented an injury prevention program for acute knee injuries. You can examine the number of those patients who have returned to the clinic for an acute knee injury, or other lower extremity injury.
- Detail how the addition of a new technique you learned has impacted your patient outcomes. For example, you can examine the data before and after the initial use of myofascial decompression (cupping). Perhaps there is a clear decrease in the number of soft tissue injuries or cases of chronic low back pain. Show, in numbers, how the addition of this skill or technique that you possess has affected your patient outcomes.
Evidence by Being Multifaceted
- Highlight your administrative accomplishments while in your current position. This may include how you were able to streamline your inventory system, effectively decrease your department budget, or the implementation of a new system for medical records requests or the patient intake process. Administrative responsibilities oftentimes seem mundane, however this is another area where you can show your employer that you are multifaceted.
- Showcase your relationships with fellow healthcare providers within the community. If you are employed at a secondary school and have created a relationship with a physician or physical therapy clinic in the community, show how that relationship has benefited the institution. Detail how it has cut down the wait time for an athlete to see a physician, receive a referral for physical therapy or an MRI, and satisfaction of the athlete and parents.
- Present positive feedback you have received from stakeholders. These stakeholders can be patients, parents, fellow healthcare providers, or coaches. Showing positive feedback from stakeholders can reiterate the value of your position and how you add to the overall experience for both the patient and others.
- Detail new roles you have stepped into since the beginning of your employment. This will show that you are not only multifaceted, but also adaptable. This is crucial considering the times we are facing. New roles can include teaching a course at a secondary school, becoming a supervisor within your department, becoming a preceptor to athletic training students, starting a journal club, and more.
Future Goals with Your Current Employer
No matter the setting you are in, you can show your employer that you are invested in your place of work and want to grow with them. Providing goals you have for the institution or company shows your commitment to them, and can in turn allow for your employer to become more invested in you. Goals can include the following:
- Implementing injury prevention programs
- Application of new policies and procedures
- Addition of services that include telehealth, telemedicine, or telerehabilitation
- Making current procedures easier, more thorough, or faster
- Classes, certifications, or programs for patients and/or fellow healthcare providers, or coworkers
- Adding roles and responsibilities to your job description
- Taking roles and responsibilities off of your supervisors plate
- Expanding your services to other departments or patients
- Becoming a supervisor or provide training to new employees
Setting Yourself Apart
In the event that you don’t have the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities to a current employer, you can still stand out amongst others. Here are some tangible ways to highlight your career achievements in non-traditional ways:
Create a Website for Yourself
Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of this, it can be a simple one-pager that scrolls to show your professional successes in a way that is more cutting edge than a competitor. This is a fresh way to demonstrate that you’re forward thinking, creative, and willing to take a bit more time to ensure you stand out; all qualities that a potential employer would appreciate about an applicant. You can get started with a turnkey website solution like Wix.com and have a beautiful online CV or resume done in a single day. If you choose to go this route, be sure to include the link to that page on all applications as well as your resume. It also is very easy to share on social media, including in your bio, so anyone, at any point can quickly scan your credentials. In a COVID era, being in as many places at once (virtually, of course) is key; a link to a website easily creates that for you.
Key elements to consider:
- Skip the “Purpose Statement” in favor of highlights from your career. These can be top level achievements or summary points of what you want someone to immediately know about you. It can be populations you’ve worked with, strong personal characteristics that stand out about you, or the type of work you’re best suited for. Limit these to 3-5.
- Use logos of previous employers or universities to create visual appeal around education and work settings. Visuals often remain in someone’s mind longer than text might. By using logos, you can emphasize those more notorious aspects of your resume to ensure they stick in a potential employer’s mind.
- Keep the design professional, but allow it to reflect your personal style. Just because it’s professional doesn’t mean it has to be boring. If you love bright colors or have a large grin that follows you everywhere, include them! A headshot or photos of you working are totally permissible (HIPAA compliance please!), using fonts or colors that communicate your personality help to achieve a friendliness. Contrarily, if you love the B&W, tend to be more stoic and take your work very seriously, your site can reflect that as well.
- Include a call to action. Have an opportunity for them to email you, see more information on your LinkedIn profile, or get in touch with you some other way. If someone has found their way to this page and are impressed with what they see, we want to give them an immediate next step. Embedding an “Email Me” or “Get in Touch” button throughout your scrolling page is a great way to encourage people to reach out.
Update your LinkedIn Profile
Seems obvious, right? But don’t overlook this crucial step. Many professionals use LinkedIn to research you and see what your online presence is like. If you find yourself back in the job market, be sure to create an end date for your previous position, list job duties from that position, and change your bio to reflect you are seeking employment. If your photo is outdated, take a new headshot and switch out the old one. Any new continuing education, credentials you’ve received, or other accomplishments should also be included. If there is outdated information, refresh it with new verbs or create summaries of older positions. Once you’ve done all of that, go on a Connection spree, attempting to connect with anyone who is in your ideal position or might be connected in a way for you to network into your position.
Quick tip: numbers jump out, especially when someone is quickly scanning information about you; include any of the aforementioned data you might have from a previous employer to help you stand out. For example:
- Successfully decreased 60% of acute ankle sprains through implementation of prevention program
- Contributed to department savings by eliminating 32% of overhead costs from the sports medicine facility
- Established relationships with 5 interprofessional colleagues to streamline referrals
Create the Career You Want
Perhaps you’ve been considering a change in pace for your career or have always had wandering thoughts about “what if” and you’re thinking now is the time. Sometimes seemingly unfortunate circumstances lend themselves to really great opportunities and pivotal moments in our life. Maybe you/your family is going to be relocating, maybe a new setting is presenting itself as a job possibility, or maybe you simply want something different for yourself. Regardless, give yourself the permission to explore what a post-COVID era might look like for your career. Whether forced or chosen, the option is available to you. Whether this is going into business for yourself, changing job settings, or taking on a different role, here are some tips to get started:
- Allow yourself to be excited about the possibility of what’s to come. As you daydream about the career you want, focus on how it makes you feel, what a day-to-day looks like, and how your life would be different in this position. The more you focus on your own happiness, your service to others, and the joy you bring to the space, the more easily it will be created for you.
- Be vulnerable in sharing about your passion and asking for help. Don’t expect to do it completely by yourself or to have all the answers. Reach out to others you may know in the space that you’d like to get into or simply announce to friends/ family/ social media what your intentions are. As you seek to find answers, opportunity will continue to show itself to you. Be open to how this may come, as many possibilities take shape we never otherwise could have imagined.
- Have an honest conversation with yourself about what is achievable. To ensure you are not risking your livelihood or potentially damaging a lifetime of work, take inventory of what can be leveraged and what cannot. This can be everything from personal assets to professional relationships. Create a realistic understanding of what might be necessary (such as getting a part time job) to work towards your dream career and include any parties who might be at effect to your decisions. Having a career you love is a personal choice, but taking care of your financial, family, or other responsibilities is important to remain mindful of.