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What can I do to convince prospective employers I'm looking for a career position even though my resume shows I've had a number of jobs?

Wednesday April 30, 2014
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Question:

Dear Donna,
I've been a nurse for several years, I've had trouble finding jobs in the field I really want — acute care, PACU — so I worked per diem at SNF's, I also worked for two years in a mental health facility

Right now I am job hunting again. My resume looks like I'm a job hopper, although I've had a legitimate reason for leaving each job. What can I do to convince prospective employers I'm looking for a career position? How can I best present myself? I've become very frustrated with the seeming impossibility of finding a good job.

Wants to Find a Good Job

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Find a Good Job,

The job market for all nurses rapidly is changing,. Many nurses who have graduated in the last several years have had trouble finding hospital jobs just as you did. That situation still exists primarily because hospital jobs are shifting into other care areas including ambulatory care, home care and alternate inpatient settings.

Even though you are no longer a new nurse, you should find this article helpful: “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies). It offers tips and advice for marketing yourself in a competitive and evolving job market. The article points out that the use of social media, as well as face- to-face networking, are vital in today's world. You can no longer rely exclusively on submitting online applications in the job search process.

When asked about your job history, you can state that as a new nurse you were trying out different areas but that your heart was in acute care. You can state on an interview that you are looking to settle in a great hospital. Of course if you're interviewing for home care or something outside of the hospital, you'll need to just say that you're looking to settle n a great home care company or whatever position you're applying for at that time.

Continuing to job hop, good reasons or not, will not help your resume, your confidence or your chances of getting hired into a good job. If a hospital job is your idea of a good job, you may have to let that go for now if you can't find one. Back in the 1990s, new nurses were not getting hired into hospital positions for years. Then the job market shifted and hospitals were hiring nurses with no prior hospital experience and putting them through specialty orientation programs. A similar thing may happen over the next five years.

One of the most important things you can do now is join and get active in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org). You should attend ANA meetings and events and join a committee. This is a great way to build your professional network, stay current with issues and trends and create a support system. You'll meet face to face with recruiters, managers and staff nurses working in acute care in various specialties. Networking is vital to your success as a nurse and is one of the best ways to get a job. You also can attend local chapter meetings of the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (www.aspan.org) as a guest for now. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it.

You also should work on advancing your formal education if you have anything less than a BSN, keep your clinical skill certifications up to date (IV, CPR and possibly ACLS), and actively engage in continuing education. This will demonstrate to prospective employers that you are actively working on professional development.

Best wishes,
Donna


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www. Nurse.com/Events.