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Why finding a nursing job really isn’t about your resume

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Looking for a job? A lot of things are not in your favor these days. The economy took a bit of a nosedive (I’m told it’s recovering?), the face of health care is drastically changing (the Affordable Care Act is equal parts good and bad) and the nursing shortage has leveled off (for now). So searching for and finding a job is tough.

It seems that all the so-called experts out there have pages upon pages of sage advice on how to optimize your resume. What I don’t see, hear or read is the truth.

The truth of the matter is it really isn’t about the resume. Oh, sure, the resume is important. It’s what gets your foot in the door. It’s what gets your name on the employer’s front desk. What it doesn’t do is get you a job.

That’s what you’re there for. It’s your job to convince the potential employer that the person portrayed on that piece of paper is MORE than just what’s on the paper.

Let’s face it, there are thousands of other potential candidates out there with the exact same qualifications and skills as you. In fact, I’m almost certain there is an equal number of candidates who have more experience and skills than you. What makes or breaks a job offer is proving you’re more than just what that piece of paper is offering.

Here are just a few things that I think everyone should ask themselves before they show up for an interview:

  • Do you demonstration confidence? Remember, there is a profound difference between confidence and arrogance.
  • How are you handling and how do you handle stress? If you can’t handle the stress of an interview, why would someone want you working for them as a nurse?
  • Are you amicable? Are you friendly? Do you have to “remember” to smile, or does it come naturally? You can’t teach a positive nature.
  • Are you well-dressed? Are you well-groomed? You must dress for success!
  • What is your typical body language? Those questions they ask are not just about your answers to questions, but also how you answer them.
  • Do you show interest? Are you “showing” your interest because you need the job, or are you genuinely interested in the position?
  • What are you like outside of your job? Yes, it matters. We all have to eventually grow up and act like the adults we are.
  • What is your long-term plan? No employer wants to waste their time hiring and training you so that you leave within six months to a year.

An interview is not about your resume. It’s also not about you and your knowledge and skills as a nurse. That’s what the resume was for. The employer already knows you’re qualified. The interview is a personality and character assessment.

It’s not about telling them what they want to hear, it’s about telling them what you want them to know.

Best of luck out there.

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Sean Dent

Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing. After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital. He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
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2 Responses to Why finding a nursing job really isn’t about your resume

  1. Placement RN RN

    One other thing: Experience doesn’t count if the prospective employer thinks you’re “too set in your ways.” Older nurses really are having a hard time–and once you’ve been injured on the job, you are viewed as a liability.

    • this is unfortunate, but I think you are absolutely right about this.
      How do we help seasoned nurses prove their value?