Shine Your Light
Mid-career transition is never easy. For the experienced nurse the job search process can come as a bit of a shock. With time, we 'find ourselves' in nursing, and we know what feeds our souls, and what makes us miserable. I believe that to find the right position a nurse should be honest with themselves and potential employers- to show their unique strengths, to shine their light.
I never thought I would be at this stage of my life and be looking for a job. It is not that I am old; I am basically mid-career as far as it goes. Being a mother changes career progression. You can't have it all, and I chose family. While many of my friends pursued glorious and glamorous positions I worked part-time and changed jobs a few times over the years to suit the needs of my family.
So now that I am finally at a place where I have the freedom to focus on my career, I find myself looking for a position that I can stay with, and dedicate myself to, hopefully until retirement. I thought this would be easier. It seems I am no longer willing to leap at the first opportunity that comes along. I am more cautious than I used to be. Employers too, seem to have become much more demanding about what they want. The world has changed, I know, but job hunting should not be this confusing.
Let me explain where I am coming from. I have both a lot of years yet to work, and a lot of experience under my belt. I read articles about how you should only put the last ten years of experience on your resume, to avoid looking "old", or having too much information that cannot be scanned quickly, leaving your resume for the scrap pile because no one has time to read it. So I shortened my resume, and now it looks like I have hardly worked anywhere since I have had the same job for ten years, plus a sideline job.
I throw in the most recent previous job for good measure. Now it looks like I have had three jobs, so I title it "recent experience". I wonder if that is a dead giveaway that I have been around for a while? No matter, if they want to know more they can always ask. Right?
I am to use the language of skills, another article said. Employers want to know what you can do. I am a nurse. I can assess, plan, implement, and evaluate. I can advocate. I can teach. I can give medications or care for a wound, I can document. I can research and whip up a policy; I can develop an action plan. It sounds ridiculous to put those things on a resume. All nurses can do them if they have had any kind of position that involves patient care and supervision. Yet every nursing job is also unique in its own right. I have learned new skills in every position I have ever had. Besides, I can learn what I don't know, so if I don't know it, teach me! I find I am not sure what to put here without sounding like I am either boasting or an idiot.
I have to also be careful not to appear "overqualified". I must hide some of those letters after my name that I worked so hard to earn. I am to show only what is relevant to the job that I am applying for. The rest should be kept as a dark secret. Whoever thought an education would be something to hide? But I know this is true. I once had an interview where the manager told me I was overqualified. I said "I think it only means that I am more qualified. How can someone really be overqualified?". I got that job. But now I am uncertain. To hide, or not to hide?
If they don't yet know that I am an "experienced" (older?) nurse, they will when they see me. I must also combat ageism in the interview. Society pushes us to try to be young. We should color our hair, get the right "youthful" cut, and avoid looking our age at all costs. I remember a time when I worked hard to seem older and more experienced than I was. Now I am told I must hide all that I have learned, all the experiences I have had, and who I am.
Over the years I have had some wonderful jobs and some soul-crushing ones. I know what makes me happy, and that is to work somewhere where I can be creative, and where I can be myself. I am tired of trying to pretend to be someone else. When in Rome, I may not necessarily want to be as the Romans are. I want to be me. I make up my mind to be as honest as I can in the interviews, even if it means I don't get the job. I don't want to play games. I want to take care of people. I want to grow and to learn, I want to use my mind in creative ways. I want to support new nurses and bond with my coworkers. I want work to be joyful and rewarding and I want to feel good about what I do.
All these open positions, and still employers create impossible barriers for job-seekers who are interested; job seekers like me. I understand the need to hire the correct candidate, which in theory would reduce turnover. But in the push to squeeze people into a cookie-cutter image of youthful, educated (but not too much), experienced (in one particular area), perfect applicants- all with the same navy suit on (professional, nothing flashy), all with the right action verbs, skill sets, and the latest buzz words on their resumes, results in many amazing people falling by the wayside.
Endless hoops of phone screenings, interviews, second interviews, background checks- even credit scores. Look sparkly, look young, tap-dance and SELL YOURSELF. Waiting, waiting, waiting. It makes me long for the time when a person could just sit and chat with those who do the hiring, and they would decide in a few days whether or not they got the job.
I am a good nurse and a good employee. I just need a chance!
I think the smart employer embraces the uniqueness of individuals and encourages them to bring their gifts to the table. It is through creativity that real change and improvement occurs. I think I have lived long enough to know that to be the best nurse that I can be; I must be allowed to be myself, to shine my light. I am going to try. Life is too short to spend my days in a miserable existence. So I am ruling out employers who won't let me - be me! Good nurses work hard; great nurses are allowed to shine!
I have thirty three years experience as an RN including acute care, long term care, home health, hospice, education, and school nursing.
Joined: Jun '08; Posts: 931; Likes: 1,224
from PA , US