Applying for the Ideal Nursing Position

When I decided on the nuring profession I considered the fact that I could change specialties.  I knew there would always be work no matter where I chose to live.  Finding a job that fits your skills, needs and interest can be exciting but also a challenge.  When applying for the ideal nursing position your resume is key.  No matter where you are in your career you have to always put your best foot forward to employers.  How can you do that?  Basically, it takes preparation on your part.

Build Your Network

Whether you are a new graduate or further along in your career you should develop a network.  Your network should include health care professionals in many different specialties and institutions.  I made sure to collect business cards when I went to conferences for future reference.  Develop relationships on social media sites like LinkedIn.  Always leave on good terms as you move from one position to another.  You want to make sure to know people in the right place when looking for that next nursing position.  Knowing someone will help to get your resume in front of the right people.

Set Your Goal

Know what your goal is when you start your search for a new position. Are you looking for a compensation package, different schedule, advancement opportunities, or a change in workplace culture? Make a list of priorities and importance.  Is the structure of a private practice more important than a fast-paced hospital?  Once you have your list it is a matter of researching facilities or job opportunities that meet your priorities.

Once you find the facility it is a matter of finding the specific position that meets your needs.  You will find your network to be invaluable in this step.  Call on someone you know in the area to assist.  Even if they do not work in your chosen facility they may know someone who does. Reach out for assistance as you search for that next opportunity.

Update Your Resume

Now that you have found the position that meets your needs prepare your resume to submit. Your resume is the first glimpse into who you are.  Make sure it is up to date and represents the you that can fill the position.

  • Are you a leader?  – So much change is happening in the healthcare industry.  Interprofessional collaboration is an important aspect of the nursing profession.  Your resume should reflect your ability to collaborate with non-healthcare resources as well. Demonstrate cross-functional team leadership, managerial, or administrative experience in other industries to show initiative and a special skill set. Include any projects you managed where positive results were achieved.
  • What has been your impact? – list your experience to show what you have done with the impact you made. Show how you are unique from other nurses by the lives you have changed, processes you have improved, and the difference you have made. Include all unique experiences such as training new hires or serving on a committee to help your qualifications stand out.  Remember that multiple people will review your resume.  Not everyone who may read your resume is nurses so do not use acronyms likely only nurses would know and understand.
  • What is the most relevant info? Show the most relevant qualifications first.  Your education may be more important over experience or perhaps they are looking for experience so make it first.  Customize your resume to each position you are seeking.  Show how the qualifications and experience fit the job posting.

Be Ready for the Interview

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because there is a nursing shortage you are a shoe-in for the job. Your skill set is not the only deciding factor to fill a position.  Recruiters and administers are still very selective. Do you have what it takes to fit into the institution’s culture?

  • 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.
  • Results – What you have done matters. Share the results you have accomplished in your career. Let them know the positive impact you have made. By showing an employer that you have made a positive impact in your roles they will envision you doing the same for them.
  • Practice – Practice answering questions that may come up. Consider common questions and answers beforehand so you are less likely to be caught off guard or struggle with an answer during your interview.  The job posting can be a guide to identify the type of questions likely to be asked in the interview.

Keep Your Options Open

Finding that next perfect job is not easy.   Remember you are not the only one seeking that position with the same skill set.  To be seriously considered for your ideal position know what you want, and then present yourself as the best qualified to fill that role.

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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a retired RN and US Army Nurse Major. She has over 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and once to South Korea. Her medical training began during the Vietnam era when trained as an army medic. She went on to train as an OR tech and then as a LVN/LPN. She completed nursing school and was direct commissioned into the reserve Army Nurse Corp. nurse. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and working in other medical facilities. During her career she spent years as an OR nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, Hospice Nurse, Forensic Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as being a Nurse Entrepreneur.