Physical Therapy Job Hunt: How to Expedite the Search for a New Job

You are ready to take your first job as a licensed physical therapist. How do you land the perfect job? The following are some actionable tips that cover everything from polishing application materials and tapping networks to acing interviews and expanding geographic options when needed. Read on to gain insights and confidence for securing the PT role that aligns with your career goals.

Know Your Requirements for the Ideal Job

When looking for a physical therapist (PT) job, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your own needs and requirements beforehand. Doing so allows you to effectively evaluate potential job opportunities. Some key requirements to consider are your ideal schedule or weekly hours, desired pay rate, preferred locations to work, and more.

Knowing your priorities for a PT role will make the job search process much smoother. Having clear requirements helps set expectations with any potential employers from the start as well. You can communicate exactly what you need to be successful in the physical therapist position, conveying that you know what is required to do the job well.

Approaching the job search prepared with your personal PT job requirements in mind allows you to quickly assess if a given opening or facility is truly a good match worth pursuing further or interviewing for. Visit CompHealth to research different job requirements that might be important to you.

Resume and Cover Letter

Resume and Cover Letter


Before applying to open positions, take time to update your resume and draft an engaging cover letter template that can be customized for each application. Your resume should highlight your clinical rotations, past physical therapy work experience, leadership activities, research projects, certifications like vestibular rehabilitation and manual therapy, communication abilities, and passion for helping patients.

Use powerful action verbs and quantitative metrics. Highlight achievements. The summary section is critical for engaging the reader and framing your fit for the open role.

An excellent cover letter introduces yourself, communicates why you are interested in that particular facility or opening, highlights two to three top selling points from your resume as they relate to the job ad, thanks the hiring manager for their consideration, and invites further dialogue. Draft the body of the cover letter so you can easily swap out the company name and job details when applying to different postings.

Identify Facilities and Openings

Match your qualifications and preferences to the role requirements and company culture at different facilities. Prioritize applying to ten to 20 good-fit openings per week that you are genuinely excited about rather than submitting 100 spray-and-pray applications.

Follow up a week after applying if you have not heard back about an interview yet. Stay organized with a spreadsheet tracking jobs applied to, application dates, contacts, and notes. This spreadsheet ensures you don’t overlook any opportunities.

Attend Career Fairs and Network

Attend Career Fairs and Network


Physical therapy programs often host career fairs where representatives from clinics come to meet soon-to-graduate or already-licensed PTs looking for work. Meet as many contacts as you can, collect business cards, take notes after each conversation, and send follow-up emails to set up job shadow days or interviews. Ask thoughtful questions to show your genuine interest in understanding their facility more. Follow up promptly when you say you will do so.

Attend regional PT association meetings monthly and tap into your alumni network on LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Message former supervisors, professors, clinical instructors, friends, and family connections asking if they know of any job openings in your target function and location.

Talk to current employees at facilities you want to work for to gain an insider perspective. Many open jobs are filled internally or by word-of-mouth before making it to public listings.

Ace the Interview

Interviewing well requires thoughtful preparation, especially for physical therapy roles that often incorporate a practical exam on top of traditional questions. Study the facility or company’s website and social media pages to understand their culture, patient cases, and treatment approaches.

Review your past clinical experience and performance evaluations to identify examples that demonstrate clinical reasoning, positive patient outcomes, communication ability, and commitment to continuing education.

Prepare answers for common PT interview questions like describing your treatment approach, handling disagreements with patients, working with a multidisciplinary team, and setting measurable functional goals.

Think of smart questions to ask at the end about mentorship opportunities, flexibility to pursue specialty certifications, and productivity requirements. Send thank you notes after the interview and follow up on the next steps. Doing so will help you stand out in a crowded market, which can help you land that dream job.

Expand Geographic Options

Expand Geographic Options


New grad physical therapists often have to be flexible related to job location, which opens up possibilities but can also narrow options if you refuse to apply anywhere outside a single metropolitan area. Widening your geographic radius to an adjacent city or two can increase your chances of getting interviews and job offers. Getting that crucial first job also builds your resume and clinical skills, even if you end up relocating closer to home later.

Consider whether you are open to moving to new cities and researching the cost of living, things to do, and physical therapy job options there. Moving entails effort and costs, but can be done. Gaining licensure as a PT in a new state involves documentation, fees, and processing time so plan timelines accordingly around application and start dates.

If you want to work in a competitive or saturated market, being open to relocation can accelerate job-hunting success. Discuss pros and cons openly with family and trusted mentors as well.

Whether you just earned your DPT degree or have experience as a practicing PT, taking a strategic approach will serve you well while navigating this exciting job-hunting journey ahead.

Consider the ideas detailed below to accelerate the process so you can get hired sooner by a great employer in your desired metro area or perhaps discover a new city ripe with prospects you have not previously considered. Landing the first job lays important groundwork for long-term career progression doing meaningful rehabilitation work.