Monday, 31 March 2014

Starting your Career: Searching for Jobs in the Lab

You've graduated, written the CSMLS exam and are now looking for your first job in the lab - but where to look? During my search over the past month, I've come across some handy tips and hints to help maximize your success and hopefully find that dream job you've worked so hard to obtain!

1. Your Clinical Site

If you've made it this far, then you had to have gone through clinical somewhere. Hopefully you've made a good impression and maybe you were already offered a job before you left which is great! But in some areas, the clinical sites are in a high demand area meaning they are not begging you to stay - but that doesn't mean you can't get a job there! Since you did your placement you area already a step ahead on training a new hire.  Make sure to keep in touch with your clinical supervisor or department manager and let them know about your exam status. Most want to know how their past students are doing anyways. In this email or in person visit, make sure to forward a resume if you're looking for employment.

2. Your School Career Fair

Most schools offer a career fair towards the end of the school year where a slew of employers come looking for new grads just like you. If you are employable or soon to be employed you are their prime target and can get a lot of great face time with an HR rep where you can ask questions you might not be able to ask if you were to apply online.

Tips for the career fair:

  • Dress well. No need to wear a suit but don't look like you rolled out of bed.

  • Look at the list of attendees BEFORE you go so you know who you want to talk to and can plan accordingly.

  • Get a nice folder to keep resumes and any business cards you might get.

  • Prepare company specific cover letters for those you want to leave a resume with and prepare cover letter and resume packages for them specifically.

  • Bring extra copies of resumes and generic cover letters in case there is a new exhibitor or person to leave one with.

  • Ask questions! If someone isn't hiring ask when they might be or how you can go about finding opportunities online.

3. Job Search Engines

Two of my favourite search engines I've been using have been and

Indeed saves your 6 most recent searches and will alert you when there is a new posting the next time you visit. You can also set up email alerts for certain areas and job titles so you don't miss anything! I find using a combination of searches for "Medical Laboratory Technologist" and "Laboratory" gives me piece of mind I haven't missed anything.

Indeed Search
An example of Indeed Searches seems to find the job postings that Indeed can't. They will alert me if a job positing is new within the last few days while Indeed will flag them as duplicates even though it's a new job posting just for a job with the sample title. Using them in combination will maximize your chances of finding that dream job!

4. Hospital/Lab Specific Career Site

If you really have your heart set on working at a certain hospital or lab it's best to also look straight from the source - their own careers page. Jobs can often be posted here before job search engines or also might slip through the cracks and not be posted to search engine at all! Once on the site, you might have the ability to pick what department you are looking for a job in but sometimes it's best to select all jobs in case one was coded into the wrong department.

Example: The St.Michael's Hospital Website

St.Mike's Careers

For a Public Health lab, Canadian Blood Services, or private lab, you can go straight to their site to see all their offering for the entire company.

5. LinkedIn

If you haven't made a LinkedIn yet - MAKE ONE NOW! I talk about how to maximize your profile in my post on LinkedIn from earlier this year. LinkedIn is a great way to network with people you might not normally be able to talk to and can help expand your world of opportunities to jobs you might have not thought of! Some companies such as Canadian Blood Services and Public Health Ontario are even allowing you to apply with your LinkedIn profile so it's a good idea to create one now!

Make connections with classmates, professors, lab directors and companies you might be interested in. They might know of a position coming up at their lab they can recommend you for or post jobs for friends in the lab community. Keeping a presence on LinkedIn can help you get ahead and be alerted to these postings or you can contact a lab director  yourself and ask if they might know of a position becoming available.

Along with jobs, LinkedIn can help you keep tabs on what the labs and hospitals are doing so if you have an interview you are able to speak confidently with their current direction.

6. Professional Association Site

The CSMLS and your provincial regulatory bodies (CMLTO, CMLTA, CMLTM etc) are another great place to check for postings. Quite often labs will go their first to give members an opportunity to apply before posting a position to the general public. It allows them to get certified members looking at their postings right away - usually meaning a better pool of candidates for them. I've put some handy links below for a few regulatory bodies job sites!

CSMLS Job Board - available once you log in to your account

CMLTO Job Board - Ontario

BCSLS Job Board - BC

SSMLT Job Board - Saskatchewan

I know the job search can be overwhelming - trying to make sure you see every posting and applying immediately so you don't miss out. Hopefully this helps on your job search to make the best of it and to start your career as a Medical Laboratory Technologist!


Sunday, 16 March 2014

The CSMLS Exam - The End is Here!

Just a few weeks ago, On Thursday February 20th, 2014 I wrote my CSMLS certification exam. The last 2.5 years of my life have been building up this exam so I can finally work as a Medical Laboratory Technologist!

The morning of I was quite nervous to write the exam. I can't remember how many times I checked to make sure I had packed my exam letter and ID with me en route to the exam.  I was staying with a friend so thankfully we had each other to calm down and try to remain sane. I was happy to write the exam back at my "home" base of the Michener gym where I had written many Med Lab exams over the past few years! Once we got there everything seemed to happen so fast – we went into the gym quickly to write and the next thing I knew we were tearing open our exam packages to write!

I imagine some students who are reading my blog are like me, and want to know the exact steps for the entire exam (ie: the registration, opening packages etc) so they feel prepared. I am a big visualizer and like to imagine my steps up to when I will be putting pen to paper to help me feel calm and ready. For those students here is how my exam day went down and please keep in mind the details will be different for each exam centre/day.

  • My exam started 9am so I arrived at the school for 8:30am. On my exam letter it specified I would be writing in the gym so I went and waited in the line of students with my exam day admission letter and my photo ID.

  • I was then checked in by last name by presenting my photo ID and exam letter and signed my name.

  • You placed any bags, notes, jackets, pens, pencils etc on the side of the room once you entered the gym.

  • Sit in any seat that had an exam package on the desk. The CSMLS supplied a mechanical pencil and calculator inside the envelope which you get to keep (woo!) after the exam.

Your very fancy calculator gift from the CSMLS
Your very fancy calculator gift from the CSMLS
  • Instructions were given out by the invigilators and at 9am you ripped open your package and began to write.

  • The first portion of the exam was 3 hours from 9am-12pm and the second portion was 1pm to 3:30pm. You are permitted to leave when you are finished unless it is the last 15 minutes, which then you are required to stay until the period is up.

  • When you are finished your exam you put EVERYTHING into the 2nd envelope, and I mean everything (at least that's what we were told). The original envelope, trash etc. I used the check list provided on the bottom of the admission to the exam letter to make sure I put everything in the envelope. Then hand it in!

  • You're done!

I cannot and will not disclose any information about the exam content due to confidentiality agreements signed. I do feel however the exam was what I expected and I left feeling “okay” about the whole thing. I don't want to be overconfident so talk to me in a few weeks when I get my results and I can let you know how I feel then!

Once I get my results back I will do a "what I used to study" post to hopefully help answer any questions on what I used to prepare. I feel like I can't write that post with authority without knowing if I passed or not.

If you wrote the exam in February, I hope you did well and wish you all the best entering the job market!