I am far from all knowing, but have been through the trenches. If this article helps one person find a job or career faster, then it was worth the time put into the article. College doesn't teach many of these things, but they are a prerequisite to being able to practice what we were taught. This is part one of a series. please enjoy!
You started your NP program with the purpose of ultimately working as a nurse practitioner. Why is it then that so many nurse practitioner program graduates have difficulty finding jobs after graduation? This is a very good question, which seems to remain unanswered online. I will do my best to share my small amount of knowledge with the world... This will be part-1 of a multi-part series. Enjoy.
You must to be willing to get creative and do think outside of the box. This does not entail renting a billboard and advertising yourself, but just being different from the group. Stick out like a sore thumb. Let me tell you my story in this multi-part series.
Nurse practitioner programs do not prepare you to find a job in today's tough market. One must stand out from the crowd and be prepared to do things other nurse practitioners do not want to do in order to land the position of their dreams. I spent many hours applying for jobs online, with a few callbacks, but no true luck. I will outline the rules to finding a great nurse practitioner job in this article; so follow along for the ride J
1. You must do what others do not. Anybody can sit online and copy/paste resumes onto websites. This takes no challenge and no skill at all. It is essentially a joke. What you are showing prospective employers is that you enjoy sitting home posting resumes online and are not willing to get up off your butt to make telephone calls or to visit clinics in person. Think of the easiest way to apply for jobs and STOP DOING JUST THAT. Think of the most difficult way to apply, one that you know most people will not do and START DOING THAT. It is that simple. Birds that flock together, fail forever... and together.
2. Fix your resume. What do most people do when they make a resume, they fill it with blank words such as 'creative,' 'hard working,' good communicator,' 'task oriented,' 'people person,' and other garbage like the such. These words mean nothing. Anybody can throw these phrases on a piece of electronic paper and hit the submit resume button on a website. Employers don't want to know what you think you are, they want to know what you have done and can do. Every chump out on the market does not only use these terms, but they also fail to explain past results they have achieved in the past! No matter how small, results are results!!!!
Include direct, measurable terms. Think QUANTITATIVE, not qualitative. Think OBJECTIVELY, not subjectively.
- Managed a team of 8 on the CCU/ICU unit
- House supervisor for a 200 bed medical center
- Assisted in implementing computer charting in 2009
- Head of code team and rapid response team for 2 years
- 3 years of computer charting experience in both ICU, ER, AND SURGICAL FLOOR
- Expert at computer charting
- Good leader
- Code experience
- People person
- Computer savvy
3. Follow up with resumes. Give it a week or two and make some calls. Some say this is annoying, but guess what? They don't get results. Show you really want to job, and make it difficult for them to say no. Anybody can ignore an e-mail or a resume posted on monster.com. But when you directly call somebody, it makes him or her think twice about instantly rejecting you. Plus, they get to hear your voice, which makes you more personable. While the Internet may be a great tool for gathering information, it is far from the best way to connect with somebody. Human nature is to want relationships, and electronic documents will not suffice for this. The mind will remember these things, even if the person is not aware of it. Have you ever wondered why you make decisions in life the way you do? I do all the time, and I don't understand it. It is because it is our subconscious mind doing much of the processing. Don't set out to impress people, set out to leave a mark on their subconscious decision making (this will be explained further in a later section). Also, even if they reject you over the phone, you open doors for future placement.
4. Good reference letters. While the phrase "it's not what you know, but who you know" is not as important as some make it out to be, it still counts. If you had good relationships with your preceptors during clinics, this will help. If not, then you may need to reach out to your professors. If neither... then you may need to work on your people skills and read "How to win friends and influence people." Ha, just kidding, but it was a good book and you will have a harder time if you have not formed relationships. This does not mean performing rectal exams on your teachers and preceptors with your nose either. Be a real person. Three to five reference letters will do the trick, especially from preceptors. Have these early, I mean, get them during EACH rotation, don't wait till 3 days before graduation and start e-mailing preceptors from 8 months ago screaming for a reference letter.
5. Take those duck-faced selfies off of Facebook. I swear there was a direct relationship between job placement time and the amount of selfies one would have on Facebook regarding my folks in my graduating class. Actually, some are still unemployed, and yes, they are the ones with the mirror selfies, car-shots, duck-faced whatever pictures all over their profile. I don't care if you made a 4.0 since the second grade, had 5/5 clinical ratings, and coded dying children at the same time. If you post garbage like that on Facebook, nobody is going to take you serious. These flashy pictures point towards drama, drama, and more workplace drama. If you are a drama queen, at least don't show it until you get hired and take your inch-thick makeup selfies off of Facebook. Oh, and this goes for ridiculous party pictures also. At least try to look professional. And if you doubt me, don't listen and you will be staring at your telephone wondering if the ringtone is broken. This goes for Twitter and Instagram also.
6. Don't think your RN experience will count for much. This is a totally different career. Oftentimes it will be physicians who are hiring you, and they won't be impressed with your nursing background. This is especially important in the interview. Don't wag your ego tail to an interviewing physician, it will get you a rejection faster than anything you've ever seen. Let them know that you know your knowledge is limited (I don't care if you worked in a level one trauma center for 15 years and won 'Bedside nurse of the year award' for 10 years running). Because.... They. Don't. Give. A. Crap. Be humble and act interested to learn a new career path. You are a novice in this field, and your CCRN certification does not speak differently.
7. Don't be too picky. Don't expect to land the ER job of your dreams making 125k right out of school. It isn't going to happen. And if it does, you are lucky. Get a job that will get you experience. "I made more as a travel RN blah blah blah blah." Good, nobody cares. Take a job that will open doors to your dream job, no matter how crappy it may seem, it's just for a year or two. So stick it out, gain the experience you need, and LEARN. You have to LEARN before you EARN. I had an offer at a pain clinic making CRNA money without the liability. Easy work, big bucks. Did I take it? No. I would have no clinical experience or chance of ever finding anything else besides a pain management job. Be smart.
8. Show them you are human. People skills go a long way. According to many successful people of the past, people skills count for around 85% of ones success in a field, and the other 15% from technical knowledge. So that one girl with the4.0 GPA that can't hold a conversation for 5 seconds is going to do very well in an interview. Not. Get accustomed to communicating. It is more important than you could ever believe. Speak of your hobbies; try to find common ground with people you interview with. But in the end, still be honest and not overbearing. They can detect fallacy.
Part-2 will be posted hopefully sometime this week. Thank you folks!
Last edit by chillnurse on Mar 11, '14
: Reason: part got cut off at bottom
May 15, '14
I know this is a few months old but I really enjoyed reading it. I am a new FNP in KY and I was wondering if you did any "door to door" job hunting? How was that perceived? I am interested in ultimately working for a surgeon as a NP first assist but feel that I need some experience as a nurse practitioner first since most surgeons I know are hospital or group employees and their bosses want experience in your role (nurse practitioner).