The prospect of finding a new nursing job that is an ideal fit for your skills, needs, and interests is an exciting one. And whether you’re fresh out of nursing school or mid-career and looking for something new, you want to present the best “you” to employers. How can you accomplish that? In a word: preparation.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Build Your Network
This is something you should always be doing, whether you’re actively looking for a job or not. Develop a network of health care professionals who work in different specialties and institutions. There are many ways to make connections—going to conferences, using sites like LinkedIn—but the really important thing is to keep growing and maintaining those relationships. If you cultivate your network, it’ll be there when you need it. And knowing people in the “right” places will give you an edge when you are looking for your next nursing position.
Know What You Want
You can’t search for something if you don’t know what you are looking for. And when it comes to finding a new position, there are lots of things to consider: compensation, schedule, workplace culture, potential for advancement, and much more. Which of these is most important to you? Do you see yourself in a more structured private practice? Or perhaps you prefer the fast-paced atmosphere of hospitals or clinics. Spend some time reflecting on the things you care about most in a job. Rank them in a list. Then research the types of health care facilities that match your priorities. From there, it’s a matter of identifying specific positions that might be available at those locations (your network will be invaluable here!).
Impress with Your Resume
Once you’ve identified a position you’re interested in, it’s time to throw your hat in the ring. And your resume is key. But the resume you used to get your last job? It probably needs an overhaul.
- Show how you’ve been a leader – The health care industry is in the midst of major changes. Nurses are valued for skills that facilitate interprofessional collaboration. Your resume should include important non-healthcare work experience, too. Having cross-functional team leadership, managerial, or administrative experience in other industries helps show initiative and a special skill set. List any job or project that illustrates how you took charge and achieved positive results.
- Show your impact – When listing your experience, consider both what you have done and the impact you made. Your previous job duties will likely look similar to those of other nurses. But the lives you have changed, processes you have improved, and difference you have made will be unique to you. Including other unique experiences—sitting in on disciplinary hearings or taking part in training new hires—can also help your qualifications stand out. And in this increasingly interprofessional world, keep in mind that multiple people will be looking over your resume, and not all of them are nurses, or even in health care. Spell out acronyms like NICU so that anyone will understand.
- Show the most relevant info first – When structuring your resume, consider which of qualifications is most relevant to the role. If it’s your education, consider putting that before your experience. If you have lots of pertinent experience, it might be most helpful to put that first. For each position you pursue, take the time to customize your resume and highlight how you fit the specific qualifications and experience the job posting calls out.
What to Do When Called for an Interview
Don’t make the assumption that just because there is a nursing shortage you can fly through an interview right into a job. Health care facilities are still very selective, and recruiters don’t just look at your skill set. They also want to make sure that you will fit in an institution’s culture.
- Do Your Research – Recruiters look for nurses who are enthusiastic about the position being offered. You can show great interest if you walk into the interview knowing about the position, the staff, and the facility. Answer questions with specific references to the office or hospital and the type of tasks the job being offered entails.
- Talk about Results – What you have done matters. The difference you have made can matter even more. By sharing the results you have accomplished in your career, you are showing an employer that you have made a positive impact in your roles. This can help them envision you doing the same for them.
- Practice and Prepare – Before the interview, practice answering questions that are likely to come up. When you go through common questions and answers beforehand, you’ll have a much better chance of not being caught off guard or struggling with an answer during the real interview. Use the job posting as a guide to identify the type of questions you might face in an interview.
Keeping Your Options Open
The job search is never easy, even in a market where your skills are in demand. Make sure that you are seriously considered for your ideal position by knowing what you want, and then presenting yourself as the best qualified to fill that role.