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What to do if you just graduated and can’t find a dietitian job – by Maree Ferguson, Director, Dietitian Connection


“Congratulations you have graduated as a dietitian!  Now comes the task of finding a job.  Unfortunately this can be easier said than done.

I am constantly talking to new graduates who are struggling to find that elusive first job.  So firstly it’s important to know that you are not alone.  Below are my tips on things you can do to maximize your chances of finding a job.

1.    My number one tip for getting a job is to volunteer
Volunteering adds experience to your resume.  It’s also a try before you buy scenario for both you and a potential employer.  You get to see if you would like to work in that organization and your potential employer is able to get to know you.  I recommend that you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket and volunteer in multiple organisations.

2. Broaden your horizons
Most people I talk to would like to work in a major tertiary hospital in a capital city.  You can increase your likelihood of getting a job by expanding your job search and being willing to move to rural and remote areas.   Also look for jobs in niche areas that are less popular such as food service and aged care.

3. Further study
Take the opportunity to increase your knowledge and skills by undertaking another course.  For example you might think about doing a MBA, education or psychology course.  I also recommend considering a PhD if you are interested in research.  The investment in higher education can make you more employable in a few years and will likely lead to a higher paid position.

4.  Find a mentor
Ask your mentor for feedback on your job applications, and potential opportunities for volunteer experience.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor.  Most people are happy to help you and the worst answer you can get is no.

5.  Look for related positions outside of dietetics
Non-dietetic positions in public health, healthcare, food service or the food industry could provide some great work experience that you could use in future dietetic positions.

6.  Create your own job
You might decide to start your own private practice or look for a niche area to start your own business.  This is often more challenging than you think.  So make sure you seek advice and do your homework by putting together a business plan to ensure that you have a viable business idea.

7.  Change your expectations
It is highly unlikely that you will obtain a permanent full-time position straight after graduating.  In my experience, this can take quite a few years.  So be willing to take short-term locums and part-time positions in the beginning.  These can provide you with some experience and often lead to further work opportunities.

8.  Feedback
Get feedback on your job application and how you are presenting at interviews. Ask colleagues and mentors to review your job application and make suggestions for improvement.  Always ask for feedback on your job applications.  Keep in mind if there have been a large number of applications you may not receive feedback.

Finally, don’t give up.  It might take a little longer to get your first job than you had hoped.  Be creative and look for non-traditional job opportunities.

Best wishes for starting your career in dietetics!  Once you get started you won’t regret your decision to become a dietitian.”

Maree Ferguson is offering career coaching for dietitians via Dietitian Connection.

Maree is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and has held leadership positions both within the Dietitians Association of Australia and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association).

Maree-Ferguson2Maree developed the Malnutrition Screening Tool to identify patients at risk of malnutrition.  Her innovative malnutrition screening tool has been implemented in many hospitals worldwide.

Maree is an invited speaker at national and international dietetic conferences.  She has received more than $1 million in research grant funding and authored over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles.  She is a reviewer for many international nutrition and dietetics journals. Maree has been awarded the Dietitian’s Association of Australia National Award of Merit and the President’s Innovation Award.  She also received an Australia Day Achievement Award in 2011.

Maree received her Graduate Diploma of Nutrition and Dietetics and Doctoral degrees from Queensland University of Technology and Masters in Business Administration from Franklin University in the USA. In 2012 Maree launched Dietitian Connection, the essential link for nutrition leaders, and resources can be viewed at

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