By Tyler Faust, R.N.
Determining what nursing job to pursue next can be a difficult decision. Where should you go? What specialty should you try next? When should you transition? Regardless of how those answers play out in your life, there are numerous things that you can do as a nurse right now to set yourself up for a job transition. Nurses often get too focused on trying to determine where they want to be and when, that they forget to do the things that will get them there now.
When opportunities arise, you need to be ready to respond. Although the demand for nurses is great, many specialty practices and opportunities are difficult to get into. High demand practices such as the emergency department, the medical intensive care unit, pediatrics, labor and delivery, and the neonatal intensive care unit can be highly competitive. When opportunities arise to apply for a particular job, you must be ready. One could put together a fresh resume and cover letter in a reasonably short amount of time, say a day or two. Especially for the driven one, the career developer, the one who knows where they want to be and doesn’t want to settle for less, the time is now to pursue that job.
Nursing can be so demanding on a day-to-day basis, that nurses don’t take the time to evaluate their professional development. In reality, preparing for your next job should be something that starts years before applying for the job itself. Otherwise, you’re not really putting your best self forward. Even in a job where you feel stuck and are looking to get out of, there are numerous opportunities that can set you up to get where you desire to be.
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. Our next post will discuss how to make your resume and cover letter stand out amongst the rest.
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.
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