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How to start an EMS job search

Unhappy or unsatisfied with current job; use these tips for a successful EMS job search

A reader asked, “Greg, I am looking into changing employers and would like some advice if you have any.”

I have made several job changes and many times encouraged co-workers that were unhappy or unsatisfied with their present employment to find a new job that fulfilled their needs. Below is part 1 of my advice for changing employers. I also want you to share your advice in the comments for changing employers.

Know yourself and what you want to do

The diversity of how EMS is delivered is expanding rapidly. What interests you the most? Is it interfacility transport, 911 response, or preventative care? What service model is a best fit your experiences and personality? Is it fire based EMS, community non-for-profit, hospital, or something different. How far are you willing to move? If you are willing and able to move cross country you will have a much broader array of choices than if you need to stay local.

Research possible employers

Based on a self-inventory of your interests, look for employers that have paramedic positions and service models that match your interests. Make sure there is also a match for you and your family for non-work time. For example, I might find a great employer in Nevada, but I don’t want to live in Nevada (I do love to vacation in Nevada and am looking forward to EMS World Expo in September).

Look for opportunities to connect

Network, especially face to face, with people from your list of top employers. Personal connections might happen at a state, regional, or national conference. At the event make a simple introduction, “Chief. I am Greg. Can I ask you a few questions about your service?” Or “John, I see you work at such and such. What are some of the reasons it is a great place to work?”

Before the conference you might even send an email. “Captain, I am planning to attend your session at EMS World Expo. Would there be a good time while you are at the conference for me to learn more about how your service has improved its cardiac arrest survival rates?”

It is a good sign when a chief, officer, or field paramedic is eager to talk about their department. Ask about training opportunities, service improvements, and protocols changes. Answer questions about you, if asked, but this isn’t a job interview.

Research your contacts and expand your network

Perhaps you already know someone at your desired employer. Talk to them. Or talk to your contacts that have changed jobs recently. During their search, interview, and move to a new employer, what worked well for them? What didn’t? Understand their process and adopt things that might work well for you.

Utilize social networks, like LinkedIn and Facebook, to expand your connections. Participate in discussions in LinkedIn groups, like the Paramedic Chief group, to help establish your name and reputation. Sharing a conversation around a shared passion will increase the likelihood that your contact request is accepted.

What are your tips for starting a search for a new employer?

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.