How Can I Land a Job in the Nutrition and Dietetics Field?

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Pamela from Los Rios CC District asks:

“How can I find entry-level or part-time work as a nutritionist?”

Thanks for your question, Pamela!  The simple answer is to work hard at it, so you’ll ultimately accomplish your goal.  Most take a passive approach to finding employment.  You’ll want to be proactive in your search to successfully land an entry-level and/or part-time job in the nutrition field.  This work can help you for this job search, but if you do it right it can pay dividends for the future because every job is temporary.

You only need one job, right?  During your job search, you’ll experience both the emotional ups and downs.  Learn to appreciate both and continue to stay focused on the goal of obtaining one job offer.  Fuel your search with consistent effort each day.  If you don’t give up on the goal, you’ll get there.

Detailed below are some specific suggestions you can implement in your plan to land an entry-level and/or part-time job in nutrition.

Treat Your Job Search Like a Full-Time Job

One common mistake recent graduates make in their search relates to the amount of time and effort they invest into their job search efforts.  Most invest very little time into the search and assume that the successful outcome will come easily, even in spite of the competitive nature of the job market.  Here is statistic that might catch your attention:  1.9 million bachelor’s degrees are expected to be awarded during the 2017-2018 academic year.

These statistics aren’t meant to scare, but rather to motivate you to fuel your search with a great deal of effort.  Treat the search like a full-time job.  Invest 40+ hours a week into your campaign to land the right job.  Most of the recent college graduates I meet with recognize that they haven’t been working as hard as they need to in order land the job if they are being completely honest with themselves.  I’ve found that many get better results in the search simply by investing more time.

Utilize Your Network (and Continue to Build Your Network)!

People hire people, not computers.  We need the help of others to succeed both on the job and in life.  Networking is, was, and will always produce the best results.  Embrace saying hello to others, while reconnecting with people you already know.  One of the first things you should do is let all of your friends, family members, and connections know exactly what you are looking for and that you’d be grateful for any assistance that they can offer to you.  While many may not be able to help with a job lead, these individuals can offer tips, leads, introductions, referrals, and more that can be a stepping stone to landing the job.

Make sure to grow your circle of influence and network by attending community events. Utilize LinkedIn to grow your virtual network, find posted jobs, connect with recruiters, further your value proposition through skills endorsements and recommendations, and join industry related groups.

Connect with Your Professors

Make sure to get to know your professors, especially those in nutrition.  Take advantage of their office hours by visiting occasionally as needed to ask for their advice and guidance.  These individuals have likely worked at some point in the nutrition field, so they may know of job opportunity or can facilitate an introduction to other nutrition professionals.

Volunteer to Gain Experience and Exposure

Your question indicated that you have limited field experience.  One great way to acquire experience is to volunteer your time.  While the preferred way to gain experience is to be paid of course.  However, don’t underestimate the power of volunteering as a way to gain experience.  Additionally, get involved in your community with causes and organizations you believe in too.  These volunteer initiatives will help you to grow your network, build your reputation as a leader, gain experience, strengthen your resume, and much more.  Get out there!

Join Professional Associations in Nutrition

Another way to build your network, reputation, and circle of influence is to join a professional association in your industry.  There are several nutrition professional associations including NANP, ANA, AND, ACSH, and others.  This is a great way to connect with leaders in the nutrition and dietetics field and learn of employment opportunities.  Most professional organizations post their available positions through the association’s website or possibly through word of mouth at meetings.  Don’t just become a member and do nothing either.  Get involved and volunteer for a board or steering committee.  This will provide you with the opportunity to showcase your skills and ability to produce results.

Your Job Search is a Sales and Marketing Campaign

Think of your job search as your own personal sales and marketing campaign.  You are the product so you need to know all of the features, values, and benefits you can offer to a prospective employer.  Personally, I don’t like the term, “job search”, as it sounds like you are lifting up rocks to “find” something.  Mentally reposition the search while thinking of it as a campaign.  You are connecting with people, especially prospective employers and decision makers to highlight your value proposition (what you can do for them), detailing how you can solve their problems.  Also, you will sell to the buyer – in this case, the hiring manager.  This is the person who has the power to hire you.  Focus your efforts primarily on the hiring manager.

Use Various Job Search Methods

Most job seekers mistakenly assume employers post all jobs online through various job boards and company sites.  Employers are competing for talent similar to the way you are competing for jobs with other candidates.  Current data shows that many employers find employee referrals as a great way to fill job openings.  Recruitment by referrals are utilized for over 25 percent of openings according to recent research.

Jobs won’t always be posted online.  So, I suggest that you reverse this thinking by targeting employers.  Don’t wait for employers to post available jobs.  Develop a list of 25-50 prospective employers in your area that may have opportunity in line with your skills, experience, education, and interests.  Do some additional research and determine a decision maker to whom you’ll address your letter and resume.  This is a great way to get your value proposition into the hands of the person with the power to start a dialogue and ultimately hire you.  Companies are always hiring.  The downside is that they may not always be hiring on your timeline.  Get to the employer before everyone else.

Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for jobs to be posted.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.  Remember, you only need one job.

Target marketing and employee incentive referral programs as described above can be very powerful.  Consider adding other job search methods including:

  • Recruiters – While recruiters work for and are paid by their company (direct recruiter) or client (3rd party recruiter), these individuals need qualified candidates to fill direct jobs or put in front of client companies. Develop a rapport with recruiters, especially those who specialize in your industry
  • Job Leads Via Job Boards Using Double-Hit – After applying online, most go into hope and pray mode as they hope and pray an employer calls them in for an interview. Be proactive with employers by following up on all your applications.  Additionally, target market your value proposition to the hiring manager as well.  Research to determine who the decision maker is and craft a strong message to this individual highlighting how you can help them.  This is a great way to get your resume into the hands of the person who is making the hiring decision.  The first step is to apply through HR, then target the decision maker / hiring manager – the double-hit.  Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for a response.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.
  • Staffing Agencies – Staffing agencies may have opportunity that is not posted online so research to find an agency specializing in your field who work with local companies in your area.

Expand Geographical Search Area

Consider diversifying your job search by expanding your search area.  Obviously, a broader search area will likely mean more opportunity.  For example, if you were considering job opportunities within a 30-minute drive from your home, then expand this to a 60-minute drive.  It may not be the desired location, but do what you have to do to land the job.  You would probably agree that it would be better for you to be working even if you have to drive 30 minutes more to get to the work site

Contact Your Career Center for Guidance

Colleges and universities offer career preparation services to students at no additional cost.  Simply put, you should leverage your career center as it is a valuable resource.  College career centers are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and credentialed professionals who can provide assistance in a variety of areas including resume review, interview skills training, job search strategy, and more.  Your university’s career center can likely provide some further insight into your question about get your nutrition and dietetics career started.  Furthermore, your career center will likely have a job site exclusively for current students and recent alumni featuring jobs and internships posted with the institution. Your university’s career services professionals will be able to provide excellent advice about your immediate question, but can offer so much more as an on-going resource. Initiate contact with this department to set up an appointment.

Putting It All Together

Make sure start to build a strong circle of influence in the nutrition and dietetics field by connecting with your professors and other professionals through various networking initiatives.

Job searching is not easy. You’ll want to take consistent action each day to move closer to the goal.  I’m hopeful that you can see there are lots of different strategies you can incorporate within your plan.  Include these suggestions into your plan and fuel with massive action until you reach the goal.  Landing the job will take time, but don’t give up and you’ll be starting your nutrition and dietetics career soon.  You’ve got this, Pamela!

Good luck and best wishes!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon

About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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