We’ve seen countless threads over the past year or two from EMT-Basics and Paramedics looking for advice on how to get hired in this tough economy. The belief that graduating with a certification and a smile will guarantee you a job doesn’t hold true these days, and gaining employment is a tough job. Ultimately your perseverance and determination will help determine how quickly you find employment in EMS. Using the wisdom and guidance of the EMTLife community, I’ve put together this guide on how to gain employment as an EMT or Paramedic. Go to a good school. One thing that we all agree on is the importance of a good EMS education as the foundation of being a good EMT. While an Associates degree is great, and a Bachelors degree is fantastic, it’s important that you make the most of your education and attend a school with a rigorous curriculum. The Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs also provides a list of nationally accredited Paramedic programs. The general consensus is the more school you attend; the more appealing you are to a prospective employer. Obtain your National Registry. This simply provides you more options and opportunities, as many employers seek EMTs who have passed the NREMT. Sure, all states don’t require it, and some states require more, but it’s a good starting point. Gather your Papers! It’s important that you anticipate what you’ll need for employment, and that you have copies and originals readily available. You’ll most likely need: Your driver’s license and Social Security card Your EMT license/certificate American Heart Association BLS Healthcare Provider certification Your FEMA NIMS courses that may be taken entirely online A resume and cover letter Some states may require a background check, Live Scan, finger printing, ambulance drivers license, etc. Check with colleagues and your EMS institution to see what they suggest. Create a Resume and Cover Letter. Create a simple one or two page resume and cover letter for perspective employers. After you’ve edited it for spelling and grammatical errors, print it on fancy resume paper. The extra investment up front will help you stand out when HR is sifting through hundreds of resumes. Make a List. Go online or check the yellow pages to make a list of all of the local ambulance services in your area that interest you. Call ‘Em! In this digital age it’s so easy to simply send off an email or attempt to apply online. As someone who has created websites for employers, including ambulance services, I can tell you that rarely do they update their job postings. Call each perspective employer and inquire about job opportunities. Beyond asking a simple question, create a conversation and inquire as to what you can do to gain employment at the company. Follow up with Email. Now that you’ve made the call, follow up with a professional email thanking the person. I always call my colleagues over when I get a really serious email from hotstuffXOXO@whatever.com, and it sure doesn’t make you look professional. Register a professional email address (email@example.com) if you don’t have one already. Keep Calling and Visit. Keep calling and following with your contact, and it may even be appropriate to stop by the station. You want to be persistent and seem ambitious, but not annoying. You got an interview? Great! If not, go back to number six. There are hundreds of posts on EMTLife about interviews, interview questions, and almost everything else about interviews. We’ve probably already answered your question. Just a few reminders: Show up on Time (or early)! There is nothing worse than showing up late to an interview. Even if you have to wait in your car for half an hour before you go in, it’s important that you’re on time. Dress for Success! Your first impression means everything, especially in a difficult job market. Dress nicely and conservatively. If possible, remove any excessive jewelry or piercings, and try your best to cover and tattoos. Men: suit, shirt, conservative tie, nice shows, and a professional haircut. Women: suit, nice pants, and conservative shoes. This is EMS. Answer the Questions. There are some questions that I can almost guarantee you’ll be asked: Tell us about yourself. Why do you want to work for X service? What separates you from the other applicants? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in x years? Answer the questions honestly and confidently. Ask Great Questions: Usually at the end of the interview you’ll be asked if you have any questions. Now is not the time to ask all 100 questions you’ve saved up. Those should have been asked via email, phone, or in person prior to the interview. Now is a good time to ask when you can expect to hear back from the person regarding the position, or any other general question you might have regarding the process. Thank the Person with a Shake & Letter. Now that you’ve finished the interview, thank the person by name and a firm hand shake. I’d argue that one of the most important steps is the thank-you letter you’ll send at home following the interview. When you get home send the person a thank-you letter thanking them for the interview and their time. It really makes a great impression and will help to separate you from the masses. If you get the job, congratulations! If not, go back to step five and start again. Getting a job isn't easy, but with persistence and a willingness to adapt you certainly will be successful. It's only a matter of time. I'll continually update this thread with suggestions. What do you suggest?