Experiences You Need
When it comes to being a great fit for a new job, experiences are king. Every nurse on the floor is doing their job well and at a minimum, maintaining the status quo. In order to set yourself apart for your next job, this shouldn’t be characteristic of you! Rather, you should be going above and beyond on your current unit seeking experiences both big and small that will set you apart and impress the hiring manager on your desired unit.
What are the experiences you could pursue? Join (or better yet lead) a committee. Get trained as a charge nurse. Fix a problem on the unit. Participate in a quality improvement project. Attend a conference and bring back ideas to implement on the unit. Talk with your manager about opportunities to get involved in projects that you might not be aware of. You might not be able to think of an idea within your specific role right now, but given that you work in healthcare, the opportunities are surely there.
Certifications to Consider
Getting a certification relevant to your next job is a fantastic way to build your resume as well as to show your commitment to getting that new job. Certifications can cost money and do take a significant amount of preparation time, which might sound less than ideal. Consider how it will feel to be certified when applying for that next job you’ve always wanted. It will give you a strong vote of confidence to know that you already hold a certification relevant to the job you’re applying to. That will be sure to catch the eye of any hiring manager.
Large hospital systems will demand a minimum of a master’s degree to be competitive in applying for leadership positions. Master’s degrees will take two years for full-time students and three years for part-time students. Doctorate nursing programs will last three to five years depending on full-time or part-time status. Planning will need to occur for what program to apply to, how to pay for school, and how to manage work and life while going to graduate school.
What can I do in my Current Role to Prepare for my Next Job?
If you are looking to prepare yourself for a specific new job or you simply want to position yourself for any future job, the quickest and best way to prepare yourself is at your current job. Leveraging your current position is the best thing you can do right now. How is our relationship with your current manager or supervisor? Does it need improvement or do you need to be noticed by them as an exemplary employee? Ensuring that your annual appraisal will be appealing is something that can be leveraged. Are there awards or recognition that you could pursue within your organization? Who from your leadership team could you meet-up with to get advice from or learn more about their role?
Employees are often unaware of the opportunities around them. Ensure you have taken full advantage of opportunities within your current role in order to prepare yourself for the next job move. That way when other factors align, you’re primed for the interview process!
When the time is right and the opportunity presents itself, you have to be ready for the next steps in pursuing your next job. In order to be prepared, you should have a resume and cover letter put together that require only minor editing.
If you don’t currently have the opportunity to become a charge nurse, join a committee, or fix a problem on your unit, there are other opportunities you can pursue. Although these experiences might not strengthen your resume as much as the aforementioned, the following experiences can be opportunities for you to network, learn, and develop skills that you otherwise wouldn’t. Here is a list of other valuable experiences to consider:
Attend a nursing conference
Nursing conferences are great for learning about the latest and greatest within a particular field or specialty. Attending relevant conferences shows that you take your career seriously and that you recognize the need for on-going learning. Additionally, you could have opportunities to bring back what you learned to present it to your unit. Hospitals and departments often have funds set aside for staff to attend conferences so you can go for free!
Join a professional organization
Joining a professional organization showcases your commitment to that line of work or specialty. Every specialty has at least one professional organization. For the more general specialties, there are often multiple national organizations to choose from and usually local organizations as well. Organizations often host conferences and allow for valuable networking and information sharing to occur. Learn to speak the language of your specialty on a new level and impress the hiring manager when interviewing for a new position.
Become a preceptor
Given the nature of nursing and the amount of turnover the field experiences, training and educating staff is of utmost importance. Staff are constantly coming in and going out of units. Every time a new position gets filled, the new staff member needs training. A good preceptor is highly valuable to a nurse manager. Becoming a preceptor on your unit will mean that you are experienced in your practice and possess the ability to teach. You will also get additional training on how to be a nurse preceptor, making you more valuable than someone who has never been a nurse preceptor.
Become a unit Wellness Champion
This is an opportunity for any nurse, including relatively new nurses who are passionate about healthy living in the workplace. If you enjoy a healthy lifestyle and excel at it, consider bringing your skills to your unit and helping to improve the health of the staff on your unit. A Wellness Champion will help to coordinate activities and promote healthy habits. This could be having a steps competition or healthy eating challenge. This is a good way to learn how to lead, communicate, and promote health on your unit. Given that nurses often struggle with maintaining their health due to rotating shifts, lack of sleep, work stress, and a multitude of other things, these skills are valuable to a hiring manager.
Have a conversation with your manager
One could not possibly list every opportunity that might be afforded to you as a nurse. Your nurse manager is the person to talk to about what options are available to you. Don’t be afraid to start small and increase as time goes on. It’s not often that a nurse will come to their manager looking for additional opportunities to grow and learn. That in and of itself will set you apart. See what options are on your unit that your manager would support and pick the one that’s a good fit.
Experiences play an enormous role in deciding whom to hire. Not only are these experiences often enjoyable and challenging but they help to grow you professionally in ways you’d never expect or experience otherwise. Seek out these experiences so that when you’re ready for a career move, you’ll be among the top candidates.
Tyler Faust is a full-time registered nurse and part-time freelance healthcare writer. He has his BSN and Master’s degree and Winona State University and has worked at Mayo Clinic for over 7 years. Currently, he works as a nurse manager. Tyler is a creative thinker, strategist, and passionate about leadership.