By Megan M. Krischke, contributor
Have you set your sights on advancing your nursing career and obtaining a new position? There is some tried and true advice and some surprising new insights that can assist you in your quest for a new job and help you better market yourself to potential employers. Two successful chief nursing officers from the Poudre Valley Hospital System in northern Colorado, Kay J. Miller, MS, RN, NE-BC, CENP, and Donna Poduska, MS, RN, NE-BC, NEA-BC, along with Hallie Crawford, a certified career coach, offer their tips for becoming a top candidate for the job you are seeking.
Begin with networking
Kay J. Miller, MS, RN, NE-BC, CENP, said that nurses should know their strengths and work to improve in areas that need growth if they want to advance their careers.
Donna Poduska, MS, RN, NE-BC, NEA-BC, said that expecting to learn something every day contributes to professional success.
Both Miller and Poduska emphasize that the most important thing you can do to build your network is to be an active member of your professional organization.
When attending these professional meetings Crawford recommends going prepared with business cards to hand out and your “elevator speech,” a succinct 90-second answer about your background and why you are there.
“The hidden job market is where most people get jobs, so networking, both in person and online through sites like LinkedIn, is critical here,” she remarked. “Eighty-percent of recruiters are searching on LinkedIn. We have a client who upgraded her account and is reaping the rewards of seeing the actual traffic to her account. There are many ways to use this actively to run your search.”
When using LinkedIn, Crawford urges job seekers to ensure their profile is 100 percent complete, and to include keywords in their profile that an employer might search for relevant to their field and background such as sub-specialties.
She also recommends setting up informational interviews to learn more about the type of position you are interested in and because it creates a great contact.
“Everywhere you go, tell everyone you know about your job search,” Crawford said. “I have a friend who got a job through his daycare provider because another parent’s company was hiring.”
Know yourself, promote yourself
Determine what makes you unique from your peers, recommends Crawford. Do you have experience with a certain population of people? A background in a unique setting like a VA hospital? A history of volunteering in an underserved community?
“If you don’t have something unique, consider doing something now to help build your résumé. It could be a great way to make networking connections as well,” she added. “Often people discount their soft skills, like work ethic or ability to work on a team. In a tough job market these skills will help you stand out from the crowd.”
“Don’t be shy!” continued Crawford. “Know how to promote yourself and be comfortable doing it. You have to promote yourself--no one else can do that for you.”
Finally, you need to assume that potential employers will “Google” you with online searches, so you need to know what they will find. Do what you can to remove anything incriminating that comes up and be prepared to address anything you cannot remove.
Precision, accuracy and follow-up
“Nursing is a profession that requires precision and accuracy,” began Miller. “So in order to get an interview, your résumé needs to reflect that precision and accuracy. It is astounding the information gaps and typing, formatting and spelling errors I see on résumés. Also, be absolutely certain that your references know you have listed them as a reference and that they know about the position for which you are applying so they can speak to your attributes when they are called.”
Poduska added that candidates should make sure that they are submitting a one-to-two page résumé, not a curriculum vitae.
Hallie Crawford, certified career coach, noted that more you put yourself out there for networking opportunities, the more likely you are to find, and be hired for, the position you desire.
“Always follow up,” remarked Crawford. “Too many people send in their résumé and just wait to hear back. You need to make a call and follow up with networking contacts and employers.”
The interview starts before the interview
It is important to understand that any interaction you have with a potential employer is part of the interview.
“You interview every day you come to work,” stated Miller. “If you are applying for an internal position, all of your work, your participation on committees and your commitment to the organization and the profession will help you stand out.”
“Additionally, I always follow up with the receptionist and the administrative assistant who helped set up the interview to find out how the candidate related to them on the phone and when they arrived for the interview,” she continued. “I have eliminated candidates just because trying to set the interview appointment was so difficult.”
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