If you’re looking for a nursing job the competition is fierce, especially for new grads with no experience and a shallow employment history. You say you’ve filled out application after application and have gotten no results. Simply filling out an application and leaving it at that, is akin to standing on a river bank throwing a stone into the water. Like the rock, your application most likely will sink to the bottom never to be seen again. In order to get a leg up on the competition you need to employ strategies that will help your application float to the top rather than sink to the bottom. The goal is to get your application to the desk of a nurse recruiter and ultimately a nurse manager who is doing some actual hiring. So how do you get your application into the hands of someone who can make a difference? If you are looking for strategies to get this done, then you have come to the right place.
How To Land a Nursing Job
The traditional sequence of procuring employment as a nurse goes like this:
- Submit application and wait
- Wait some more
- Interview with HR/nurse recruiter
- Interview with nurse manager
- If all goes well nurse manager offers you the job
If you are a new grad, getting that interview with the nurse recruiter is especially challenging. Hospitals receive hundreds of applications from new grads each year so your application may not be seen by a human for weeks if not months. That is why I have a strategy for dealing with this that I call, “The End Around”
The End Around
There is a little known fact that in many hospitals in this country a nurse manager can contact HR and have a specific application pulled. For you the job hunter, this is good news because it provides a way to get your application on the desk top of someone who can help you out. What you need is a way to get face time with the nurse manager. When that door opens you need to be prepared, act swiftly, act confidently, and act with purpose.
Preparation is key:
The first step in the process is doing your homework. Things you need to have prepared in advance are:
- An abbreviated resume. Keep it to one page or less. If you are a new grad, accentuate attributes that would make you a good fit, but again keep it brief.
- Do your homework on the hospital and unit you are targeting. Know what types of patients they service. What is the unit’s mission statement?
- Learn something about the nurse manager. What awards has the manager received? What projects is the manager involved in? How long has the manager been with the organization? Find out what the manager looks like. (Google is your friend)
- What type of committees do they have? What awards has the unit received?
- Taking what you learned about the unit and the unit’s manager craft a brief cover letter that highlights what attributes you have and how you would be a good fit. Again, be brief. Keep it to a page or less.
- Get some business cards. Nothing fancy, all that is needed is your name, phone number, and email address. Options range from buying business card stock for your home printer, to ordering a box from Vistaprint for as little as $6 for 25 cards. The reason to include a business card is that there is a possibility your card could sit on the managers desktop for quite some time. A business card sitting on the desktop is like a billboard advertising your name. For this reason to not staple your business card to the resume.
- Get some decent clothes together. You don’t need a business suit yet, but business casual is a must for when the plan is put into motion.
If in the process of doing the homework you learn the unit you are targeting is locked and/or secured the methodology will require modification. Typical secured units are the Emergency Department, L&D, NICU, and Peds. To enter you need credentials. I don’t recommend bypassing security to gain entrance to secured units. Doing so will most likely result in being escorted from the building, and possibly being blacklisted by the facility.
In order to get your documents to the nurse manager the assistance of someone “on the inside” is needed. If you don’t know someone on the inside, the situation is more challenging. Establishing a contact is possible, but requires more homework and sharpening your networking skills.
You can still try the “direct strategy” described below, however your attempt to cross paths with the nurse manager will need to take place outside of the unit.
The direct strategy:
The direct strategy is to simply show up at the unit you are targeting armed with your resume, cover letter, and business card. The unit’s secretary is usually your first point of contact. The secretary is your best resource to find out the location of the manager’s office. If the secretary is especially friendly, it may be to your advantage to disclose exactly what your mission is. People naturally want to help, and if not too busy the secretary may blaze a path for you to the mangers door.
If the secretary is not helpful, be resourceful and strike up a conversation with a friendly looking nurse if there is one around. If this is not working then simply do what you have to do and find the manger’s office and knock on the door. The goal here is to get your resume, letter, and business card into the hands of the nurse manager.
The manager is not expecting you and may not have much time. Be ready to make your pitch in one minute or less. If it is good you may get more time, but you need to stick your foot in the door when it is cracked open. Tell the manager why you are there and how much you want to work on the unit.
Butter up the nurse manager:
Complement the manager on something you learned while doing your homework. Mention that you have an application in HR and that you would like to leave your resume, letter, and business card. Once you have handed the manger your docs, mission accomplished. Be sure to thank the manger for taking the time to talk to you. State your name one more time and say you hope to speak to the manager again sometime in the near future.
If the manager is actively hiring for the unit, you are already ahead of 90% of the competition because your docs are on the mangers desk.
If you try, or have tried this strategy please leave a comment and let me know how it went. If you have your own strategies that have worked, share them below with the other readers and me.