“How do I get directly hired by a district, Jaime?”

I hear this question ALOT. Especially in Long Island, where I live. Many districts have been using contract agencies for years. Luckily, times are changing.  More districts are looking for direct employees, to be part of a team. But these jobs are highly competitive.

Things to know before you go.

Are you looking for a school-based OT job?  Here are some tips you’ve got to know before you hit that apply button…

You need a Résumé that meets ATS Standards

 ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. This is how employers use technology to decide if your resume goes to the “no thanks” pile. 

ATS searches for keywords the school district is looking for. This makes it easier for the district to narrow down their options with a built-in screening process that either pushes you through or “tosses” you in the “no thanks” pile.

No thanks?!  Oh No! 


No one wants to be tossed in that “no thanks” pile.

For info about ATS compliant résumés, watch this short video regarding the Five Must-haves for a Successful Résumé in 2022 on YouTube.

You need a “pretty” Résumé & one for ATS. 


If you went to Etsy for a pretty résumé, save that for the in-person interview. When you submit your resume online, go for the standard, one column resume. Don’t add any pictures to that one.

Want even more information? Here’s a webinar all about Résumés and LinkedIn. It is free with the option of paying for CEU credits (if you want). Sign me up!

Long Island—Get on the Civil Service List

Finding a direct-hire job on Long Island is very competitive and hard to find. Don’t give up. The first thing you have to do is make sure you are on the Nassau County or Suffolk County civil service list. This will help you get a job as a direct-hire at a school on Long Island as well as BOCES.

Create an account, input your information, and pay the fee. That’s it. They call it a test, but it’s really just putting the info you would typically put on a resume.

There is a small fee to apply and to get onto the civil service list.

For Nassau County, it is $50. For Suffolk County, it’s $40. To apply for Nassau County there are no end dates. However, there is a specific time period you are able to apply for the Suffolk County exam. The date is unknown at this time.

A tip about the Civil Service List: You will periodically get “invites” to apply for positions that you’re not interested in (part-time, too far away, a leave replacement, etc.). Make sure that you still respond to the “invite”. If they send you a certain number of “invites”, and you don’t respond, they remove you from the list.

These tips are specific for Long Island and New York City, but be sure to get on the Civil Service List where you live!



Sign up on OLAS 

Create an account and periodically check this website to search for occupational therapy openings on Long Island as well as other locations within New York State. This website is called OLAS. Olas is an online search platform that connects candidates to jobs in school districts. You will also have to apply on their website with your résumé.

How to apply to a school in NYC DOE

Are you interested in working for the largest school district in New York State? If you apply for the DOE, you may end up in any of the five boroughs.

Once you get accepted to attend a hiring hall, you have to decide which borough you want to interview with. The most available jobs are in the Bronx and then Brooklyn. As with Long Island, you also have to apply for the civil service exam.

FYI- they tend to exhaust the list and allow OTs to apply and then join the civil service list afterward.

This is the link from the NYC DOE website to begin the process of applying. If you have any questions, this is their email: pps@schools.nyc.gov.

Here are some FAQs from the UFT (the teacher’s union in the DOE) website regarding the civil service test: click here

The application period for the Occupational Therapy Civil Service Exam opens up periodically around October.  Click here. It costs approximately $85.

Don’t worry if you are accepted to work in the DOE but you are not happy at the school you were placed in. You may transfer to a school or borough of your choice once you are in their system. The transfer period begins in the springtime for current DOE employees. (Another reason to keep your résumé updated!)

Scholarship opportunity for OT students interested in working in NYC DOE

oAnother option is to apply for a scholarship. You must be a full-time student attending an occupational therapy program at a New York college to be eligible. Click here to see if your college made the list. To be selected out of several other aspiring occupational therapists, it is important to stand out and have an amazing résumé, writing samples, and interview skills. Attending the Résumé Bootcamp can be the first step to getting a leg up over your competitors. If you are selected for the scholarship, the DOE will pay for your tuition. How amazing is that!

For every one year they pay tuition, you have to work for them for 2 years.

You can wipeout all of your tuition debt by working for the DOE for 6 years.

Just know that the schools that you could be placed in, will be high needs areas. If you’re not happy, there are ways to transfer during the transfer period which happens during the springtime. Applications for the fall can begin applying from January to April 30. Here is a link to learn more.

Connect & Network

• • • • • 

MORE Tips & Tricks for Getting Hired

The process may seem confusing but don’t give up. Another way to find out information is to network and connect with other therapists that are working in the areas you are interested in. Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Ask questions, get advice, who did they contact? School districts get TONS of résumés. Make sure your résumé:

  • Stands out
  • Highlights who you are as a professional
  • Uses powerful action verbs
  • Has the right “keywords” to get attention
  • Meets ATS standards

Use our resources in order to get the dream job you want and deserve. From the words of Tanya Peterson, “generic résumés get generic results and you are anything but generic.”

Learn all you need to know about Resumes & LinkedIn

Miss Jaime brought in a subject matter expert to help prepare her followers with the best practices for resumes and LinkedIn profiles that get results! It’s on-demand, so take it at your leisure and earn AOTA CEUs!. It takes motivation to update your resume and LinkedIn profile—especially when you are not actively searching for a job. But keeping both of these important tools is the best way to be ready for that exciting new opportunity!

Resume & LinkedIn Webinar + CEUs


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