Once you are a qualified nurse the time will come when you will need to start applying for nursing jobs. This can be a daunting experience for someone who is new to the job market but there are a number of tips that you can keep in mind to help you along your way and to find the best jobs possible with your personal set of qualifications.
1: Don’t Limit Yourself To Particular Areas Of Nursing
If you feel that you have special skills in a certain area of nursing, or if you have in fact specialized formally in a certain area of nursing, you must be careful about limiting your employment opportunities. Mention you specialization on your resume, but be sure to also indicate the many other areas you are qualified to work in as well as the many other skills that you possess. This will prevent you from closing the door on many of your options in the field. Although you may prefer to work in a certain specialization more than another, it is dangerous to be picky when looking for a job, especially if it is one of the first jobs you will ever hold. If you have a specialization in an advanced nursing practice you must also keep in mind that, to get to that level, you had to undergo general nursing training, making you eligible to work in facilities where specializations are not required in addition to working in your chosen area of specialization. Make this clear when applying for a job as a nurse.
2: Don’t Add “Interests” To Your Resume
A successful resume in nursing is one that stands out from the crowd and that is not generic. With this in mind we suggest that you leave out the traditional section on ‘interests’ from your resume. This is for a number of reasons:
- This tends to be the most generic section of the resume at all, and it is therefore best just to leave it out altogether.
- This will help you cut your resume down when applying for nursing jobs so that it is an easy to read one page document.
- This section merely clutters up your resume as it is seldom read in any case.
Most resume templates online will probably still include the section on interests. However this is no longer really appropriate in the modern day and age because these days employers have to digest large numbers of resumes at the same time and do not have the time to read them all in detail. Creating a resume that is easy to scan will help you in your search for the ideal nursing job.
3: Keep Your Resume Up To Date
It is of paramount importance that you keep your resume up to date. This means that you should revise and rewrite it (if necessary) before applying for any nursing job. Prospective employers want to know exactly what it is that you have been up to since you left high school up until now. Although your resume needs to be short, it also needs to be comprehensive. You will need to:
- Provide valid reasons for any employment gaps
- Provide succinct passages of your various duties of your most recent jobs
The first of the above is necessary as employment gaps look suspicious and may make your potential employer feel consciously or subconsciously that you are hiding something important from them in your resume and that you have not been entirely honest. The second is required as this highlights your actual skills and experience, giving your potential employer a better understanding of whether or not you are suited for the nursing job in question and whether or not setting up an interview is a good idea.
4: Work For Free
This is something that you should only do if you have the time and if you can do it without jeopardizing you current job. In the current economic climate you will have no shortage of employers in the health care industry that will be willing to employ you free of charge. The question that you may ask at this point is how, exactly, this will help you when applying for nursing jobs. There are two main advantages:
- You will gain additional experience that will make your resume stand out from the crowd and give you a head start in terms of impressing your potential employer
- You will stand out as someone who cares enough about the profession to work in a nursing facility for free – this in turn will create a good impression on your resume
You do not have to work for free full-time, but if you are able to squeeze in an additional hour or two a week working at another facility in your area that needs staff it will stand you in good stead.
5: Maintain A Positive Attitude
It can be tough looking for a nursing job, and some people, especially new job seekers, are not always able to handle the pressures involved. However you should, at all times, maintain a positive attitude. People want to work with people who are upbeat and, generally speaking, happy. Even if you are not naturally like this you need to try to keep your spirits up when dealing with potential employers. If your application for a job is denied you must accept the denial with a smile. If the rejection is sent by mail or email, respond, thanking them for their time and consideration politely. In addition you should accept a rejection graciously and with a smile when delivered in person. At some point in the future you may feel that you are more qualified to apply for the same position or another position with that employer, and you need their memory of you to be as good as possible. For your own well-being, a positive attitude and approach to your job search should be kept up at all times.
6: Keep Looking
Once you have been called out for a job interview you should not stop looking for another job. You cannot assume that an interview will mean that you will automatically be employed. There are too many different factors involved in this for you to make this assumption, including:
- The fact that, in nursing, there are likely to be numerous applicants for the same position all with similar qualifications to you who will also be interviewed for that position.
- In the interview your employer may come to the conclusion that you are not, after all, the right candidate for the job.
- In the interview you may come to the conclusion that this is not the right job for you and you may decline it even if you are successful.
Consequently you need to keep your options open. This technique also allows you to answer the question “Are you applying for other positions?” in the affirmative. It means that you will not come across as desperate, something which can damage your chances.
7: Eye Contact
An important step in the applying for nursing jobs is the job interview itself, which is possibly the most nerve-wracking part of your entire career. In the job interview it is important that you maintain eye contact with your interviewer no matter how nervous you feel. The two main reasons for doing this are the following:
- It will help settle your nerves
- It will also send good signals to your potential employer that you are confident and respectful
In addition it is very important that you maintain good posture. This essentially means that you should sit up straight and not slouch when doing an interview with a potential employer. In some interviews you may even be required to stand, but the good posture rules applies in these cases as well.
An important thing to note regarding eye contact is that eye contact is different from staring. Staring can make an interviewer feel uncomfortable, so it is very important that you are careful to strike a balance between staring behavior and appropriate eye contact with your potential employer.
Another tip for the job interview itself is that you should know what your motivations are. It is highly likely that you will be questioned on your motives for applying for the nursing job during the interview, so thinking about it before hand will make it easier for you to answer the question truthfully and intelligently. There are a number of things that you may need to consider here. For example, if you are changing from one nursing job to another, you may asked about why you are changing. Generic answers include things like “Because I want a more challenging career”. If this is true, give this as your answer. However, if you are just looking for something good to say, rather be truthful. If the truth is not pretty (e.g. you cannot stand your managing RN) you will need to sugarcoat it in such a way that it reflects well on you as well as on the establishment you currently work at. A potential employer does not want to hear you slate your previous employer as this reflects badly on your loyalty and your character.
9: Resume Rewrites
In many cases it becomes necessary to actually rewrite your resume each time you apply for a nursing job. This is especially true if you are applying for different positions. For example, if the first resume that you write focuses on simply being a registered nurse, you will need to to change that resume in order to apply for a job in a specialty, such as pediatric endocrinology.
So, it is important to rewrite your resume for different jobs, it is also important to rewrite your resume for very similar jobs. For example, you may be applying to be a certified nurse midwife at two different facilities. It is still advisable that you rewrite your resume for each based on the initial job advertisement. Different job advertisements will stress different roles and skills that will be necessary for that particular job. This means that you will stand a better chance of receiving a position if your resume emphasizes your ability to fulfill certain requirements for a specific job at a specific health care facility.
10: The Right Reasons
Looking for a new job is often necessary and positive, but there are many people out there who apply for new jobs for the wrong reasons. When applying for nursing jobs make sure that you are not motivated by any of the following factors:
- Your boss irritates you. This may seem like something that is hard to bear, but it does not constitute a good reason for searching for a new job.
- Some people start looking for new jobs just after Christmas because they feel depressed that they have a whole year to get through before the holiday season shows itself again. This is not something that will change with a new job.
Your focus must be on the benefits and rewards of a new job rather than on what you do not like about your current job. It is also a good idea to think of your reasons for looking for a new job so that you will be able to discuss them intelligently in the interview that you will need to go through to be employed in a new setting.
Looking for jobs to apply for as a nurse can be difficult in the current economy, but you must bear in mind that the medical profession is one that is always stable and that always grows, even as other industries falter. Consequently there will always be jobs around for you to apply for. The trick lies in making yourself a more attractive option than your competitors when applying for nursing jobs.