6 Tips to Get the Recreation Therapy Job Of Your Dreams

By Meagan Young from Grow Through Flow

You have the education. You have the skills. You have the passion.  Now all you need is the job!

It is 2019, and the job market is competitive. According to the US Department of Labor (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/recreational-therapists.htm), in 2016 there were over 19,000 recreation therapy jobs throughout the United States. The good news is that with the aging population and holistic health care movement, the job rate for recreation therapists’ is projected to grow at a rate of 7% over the next 8 years (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/recreational-therapists.htm).

Numbers and facts asides, you are a caring and well-trained individual looking for a job, right? So let’s focus that. Keep reading to learn 6 Tips to Get the Recreation Therapy Job of your Dreams.

#1 – What do you want?

Before you can find your dream job, you need to know what it is.

Take some time to get very clear on what is it that you want.

For as long as I can remember, I have been called to serve children and youth and as I learned more about recreation therapy services, mental health and community engagement became my calling as well. These areas of practice lit a spark in my heart that I couldn’t ignore.

So ask yourself, what is my spark?

If the answer comes to you right away – fantastic (move on to step #2).

 If you are not quite sure what your spark is yet – that’s okay too!

You can get a little clarity on this with this visualization activity below.

Close your eyes and think about your dream job:

  • What is the setting? (schools, community recreation center, long-term care)
  • Who are the people you are serving? (children, seniors, individuals with TBIs)
  • What activities are you doing? (rock climbing, exercise groups, painting)
  • What do you look like at work? (professionally dressed, in outdoorsy gear, in a swimming pool)

Be patient with the process, finding your spark sometimes takes a minute.

Once you know it, your dream job search can begin.

#2 – Develop your skill sets

Take some time to list out all the skill sets that would make you the exceptional candidate for the job. For instance, if you would love to work at a long-term care facility, training in Montessori programs (https://brushdevelopment.com/programs/) would be a fantastic skill set to list on your resume. Or if you want to work in physical rehabilitation a training in adaptive sports (https://www.blazesports.org/what-we-do/training-and-education/certified-adaptive-recreation-and-sports-specialist/) would help you stand out in a sea of applicants.  Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What skills do I already have?
  • A degree in therapeutic recreation, CTRS certification, training in motivational interviewing
  • What skills would the ideal candidate have?
  • Collaborative Problem Solving, Trauma Informed Care, Adventure Course Certification

PRO TIP If you are not sure the answer to this one, connect with a recreation therapist in your dream position and ask them what they would recommend.

  • How can I add to my skill sets?
  • Online trainings (www.smartceushub.com), continued education, volunteering

Now spend some time updating your Cover Letter and Resume with your skills sets (http://www.vault.com/blog/resumes-cover-letters/8-resume-tips-for-2019/)

#3 – Find the job

This is the fun part.  Here are a few ideas of where you can get started on your job search:

This awesome new website is great for those searching for jobs and internships, as well as employers looking for candidates. Click here the link above to go create an account and then your search can begin.

  • Therapeutic Recreation Associations

Check your state. provincial or national Therapeutic Recreation association website. It will most likely have a section where they post jobs and internship opportunities regularly.

  • Job Search Engines

Check out the old faithful job search engines such as Indeed, Monster, Zip Recruiter, etc.

  • Think Outside the Box

It is 2019, things don’t have to work the way they always did! Recently I wanted a job in a city I was moving to, but I couldn’t find any postings online. I hopped on my LinkedIn account and found as many RT’s I could working in that city. I sent them all a very professional messages stating that I was on the search for potential job opportunities. Guess what – it worked! I got a lead and was able to find the job recreation therapy job of my dreams.

# 4 – Prepare, prepare, prepare

Yay!!! Your application was successful, and they have scheduled an interview with you. Before you wow them with all your knowledge and personality, you need to know your background information.  Spend some time researching the following topics:

  • The Company
  • Who are they and what do they stand for? What’s their mission and values?
  • The Population
  • What are their needs, barriers, strengths and resources?
  • Current Trends
  • What are the current best practices for this population?
  • The Interviewer
  • Who are they? Check out their LinkedIn or company website. Maybe you have a commonality, or you can impress them by naming one of their research articles.
  • Relevant Questions
  • Finally brainstorm 2-3 relevant questions you can ask at the end of the interview. This again shows interest and preparation as well as knowledge in the area.

# 5 – The Interview

Take a deep breath – if you have worked through steps 1-4 you are ready. Here are a few of my favourite tried and true interview tips:

  1. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, interviews are a professional occasion. Dress the part.
  2. Be confident in yourself. Doing some power poses in the mirror before hand does wonders (https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en)
  3. If interviews make you nervous and give you all sorts of anxiety – you are not alone. Never fear, there are many things you can do to help – (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/career-transitions/201503/10-ways-calm-your-interview-anxiety)
  4. If your interview is over Skype or on the phone prepare your technology in advance. Nobody wants to spend the first 15 minutes of your interview finding each other on Skype.
  5. Use your therapeutic recreation elevator pitch – (https://growthroughflow.com/how-to-create-your-therapeutic-recreation-elevator-pitch/)
  6. Work on self care before the interview. It will help ease your anxiety (https://growthroughflow.com/be-your-own-rec-therapist/)
  7. Have Fun! Yes, you heard me, I said have fun. Even if you don’t get the job, you are learning and growing every time you do an interview. Work on relaxing and just enjoy the ride.

# 6 – Gratitude

This last one may be the most important tip – stay grateful for what you currently have.

  • If you are currently in school embrace it.
  • If you have a job but are looking for another, remember that you once didn’t have your current job.
  • If you are unemployed or not working in the field, more time to grow your skill sets.
  • If you continue to apply and interview but don’t get the job, you are gaining experience.

Final thoughts:

Give yourself some grace. If you mess-up during an interview, chalk it up to a lesson learn, change your game plan to reflect your growth, and move on to the next.  You will get that job of your dreams 😊

-Written by Meagan Young from the Grow Through Flow RT Blog. To check out the Grow Through Flow’s website just follow this link: www.growthroughflow.com