RT Grads: This is How You Get from Application to Interview

RT GradsFrom credentials to clinicals to resumes, RT managers dish about what RT grads can do to get an interview.

RT students across the country are finishing up their programs this month, preparing to take their credentialing exams, and perhaps most importantly in their own minds, looking for that first job in the profession.

Anyone can send in an application, but getting an interview is another question. We turned to members of the AARC’s Management Section to find out what managers are looking for — and what turns them off — when it comes to new grad applications.

Kim Bennion, MHS, RRT, corporate respiratory care services QA manager at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, UT, emphasizes the importance of earning the RRT credential as soon after graduation as possible. In her area of the country, it’s a must for employment. “We are to the point where our hiring order is, current RRT and state license, then BSRT degree.”

From there, they look for personal/behavioral “buzz words” on the application and/or resume that show the candidate has what it takes to work in their facility. “Created,” “implemented,” “lead,” and “volunteered” top her list. “The more volunteering and community service they’ve done helps them standout, as we have expectations for them along these lines once hired,” says the manager.

Amanda Richter, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, RPFT, cardiopulmonary services director at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, TX, absolutely hates to see an application where everything has been typed in all caps or all lowercase letters. “Take the time to fill out your application professionally,” she advises novice job hunters. And take the time to attach a resume as well. “I often get applications with no attached resume and I often pass them over.” She likes to see a nice cover letter with a little more information about the job candidate and why he wants to come and work with her team too.

Jack Fried, MA, RRT, director of respiratory care and neurodiagnostic services at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT, says his hiring decisions are often based on the attitudes and behaviors he witnessed when the new grad was doing clinicals in his hospital. “To get an interview, a student should do the following during clinicals: show enthusiasm, show initiative, ask good questions, and be on time.” Students who came across as “know it all’s” or were late or lacked enthusiasm or initiative need not apply.

Cheryl Hoerr, MBA, RRT, CPFT, FAARC, director of respiratory care and sleep services at Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, MO, agrees clinicals are important. New grads who were helpful with less glamorous tasks like equipment reprocessing, organizing or straightening up the report area, filing, or even helping to clean out the refrigerator especially stand out from the crowd. “Those aren’t the most glamorous or most exciting things to do, but someone has to do them,” says Hoerr. ”Being helpful is a good reputation to develop.”

Students who present a negative attitude are usually checked off her list of people to interview, as are those who don’t get a good recommendation from her staff. “My therapists let me know which students are hard workers, which ones they like, and which ones they think will fit in well with our department,” she emphasizes “My therapists also let me know, in no uncertain terms, who I definitely should not hire. So if you want a chance at an interview you need to work hard to impress your future co-workers.”

John Campbell, MA, MBA, RRT-NPS, RPFT, FACHE, director of respiratory care services, neurodiagnostics, and the sleep lab at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, NJ, says clinicals make the biggest difference at his place as well — in some cases, even when the new grad didn’t actually do a rotation in his facility. “Due to a number of my staff working as part time clinical instructors with three respiratory programs, we are able to get information about clinical performance even when these individuals did not do clinical with us,” he says. “Poor attendance and tardiness during clinical rotations are a real red flag to not interview.”

On the up side, he is more likely to interview new grads who can show leadership/supervisory positions in previous jobs outside of respiratory care, and those who have a good record of volunteer service. Missing information on an application or resume, such as not listing credentials, license, degree, etc., will just about ensure the application will be tossed aside.

Chuck Menders, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, director of respiratory care at Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, WV, echoes many of the previous sentiments about clinicals, emphasizing that he relies on his clinical instructors to tell him which students are worth interviewing. “When it comes time for hiring, we aren’t necessarily interested in your GPA, or how well you did in school. We have great people who work here and they can teach you to be great respiratory therapists,” he says. ”What we can’t teach and what we look for are things like compassion, respect, integrity, enthusiasm, commitment, excellence, and teamwork. That’s what’s important for you to demonstrate and bring to the table.”

He likes a personal touch too. While online applications are required, new grads who stop by his office to drop off a resume make a big impression. “Periodically following up just to let us know how you are progressing and that you are still interested is also a good idea — just don’t do it to the point that you are being a pest!”