Create the Job You Want

Photo: Thinkstock/djiledesign

I’m often met with looks of surprise when someone discovers my job started as a proposal instead of an application. A dietitian can be useful almost anywhere so why is it such a surprise? If the job you want doesn’t exist, why not create it?  I get a lot of questions on the process, so I’d like to share some personal tips. I’m not an expert, but I hope my experience can be useful to others hoping to do the same.

Do Your Research

Before you do anything, make sure the company you want to work for doesn’t already have a dietitian. A quick Google search of the company’s name plus the word dietitian would have prevented a recent snafu at my own workplace. An RDN used the “contact us” page to suggest it hire a dietitian, specifically her.

Once you know the company doesn’t have an RDN, note similar or competing companies that do. I compiled a list of major retailers with dietitians, especially local competitors. I also included articles from publications that discussed benefits retailers receive from hiring dietitians and included statistics such as, “95% of American grocery stores have at least one dietitian on staff.” No business wants to feel behind on a trend. If what you’re proposing is ahead of trend, use that for leverage as well.

Explain specifically what you can do for your target company. Contact dietitians in similar positions, see how their job descriptions differ and tailor your pitch by combining the best ideas. Include a complete job description with your proposal — the kind you see when job-searching online.

Consider adding an emotional aspect by discussing the benefit as it relates to the community, its employees, its image, etc.

Don’t Forget About Yourself

It’s one thing to persuade a company to hire a dietitian; explain why you are the best person for the job. Add this section after the reasons to hire an RDN.

Take Your Time and Organize

Be diligent and patient when researching, writing and compiling all aspects of your proposal and have trusted individuals proof your work. My proposal consisted of a formal letter, a PowerPoint presentation to coincide with the letter, a separate form of my proposed job description, my resume, as well as a CD of all the documents submitted. Deliver your proposal in person if you can. I was states away so I mailed it off in a nice portfolio and immediately left a voicemail with the owner explaining who I was and what was coming his way. Either way, always offer to present the proposal in person.

Who Do You Know?

After asking several people, I discovered I knew a friend of the owner. He didn’t do much — just mentioned my name and gave a good word on my work ethic — and I did the rest. It is not necessary, but it’s a great bonus if you can find it!

Be Persistent and Take Risks

Brace yourself for silence and practice persistence. After I was hired, someone asked my boss why, to which he responded, “She bugged me enough that I finally said yes,” and that’s fine by me! It was months of back and forth, but I didn’t let him forget about me and the experience showed me the importance of persistence and taking risks. It worked for me and who knows, maybe it’ll work for you, too!

Esther Ellis
Esther Ellis, MS, RD, LDN, is a retail dietitian and freelance writer based in New Orleans.