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Can't Get Hired Because of Old Nurse Mindset

Nurse Beth   (3,296 Views 6 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

332 Likes; 10 Followers; 81 Articles; 224,700 Visitors; 1,685 Posts





Dear Needs Suggestions.

You say that you are hard-working and reliable but unable to land a job because employers turn you down due to your age.

There is nothing you can do to change others, but you can change yourself. No one is entitled to a job, even when they are qualified, and in a competitive market, soft skills count.

For example, your choice to type all in caps conveys that you are not computer savvy and employers look for candidates with computer skills.

Far better to put on your resume that you are proficient with Cerner, or Epic. In other words, communicate that you are relevant and up-to-date in your nursing practice.

You assume you are not landing jobs because of your age, but how effective are your resume and cover letter? Blaming your problem on others' mindset is easier than learning these important job-searching skills. Back in the day, these skills were not necessary in nursing- today they are highly important. Are you skilled at interviewing? For example, do you know how to answer (and how NOT to answer) 'What are your greatest weaknesses?" Are you prepared for situational interview questions?

I guarantee that a well written cover letter and resume, a targeted job search, and interview skills will get you results.

Is your resume targeted to each organization? You must do due diligence and at least know the mission and values of an organization when applying. If an organization is expanding a certain service line, you want to be informed. If the community population is Spanish speaking, you want to emphasize your conversational knowledge of Spanish.

Do you have preceptor experience? Does your resume highlight your employee engagement, such as serving on committees? Is your perfect attendance prominent, and is there a lack of wordiness and cliches in your cover letter and resume?

I recommend reading my book below to teach you how to easily stand out and present yourself in the job market. Also the secret to answering "What's Your Greatest Weakness?" and the 10 top interview questions. It's full of practical and actionable examples and strategies from a hiring manager's inside point of view.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next

Also be sure and read this helpful post on Ageism in Nursing to combat the bias against older workers. Are you projecting the "stereotype" of an older worker? Instead remember you are a reliable, experienced nurse with maturity and life experience.

Edited by Nurse Beth

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151 Likes; 6,126 Visitors; 508 Posts

Employers want more than warm bodies these days. Being present, on time, is the bare minimum. Do you provide excellent customer service? Are you a team player? Are you adaptable (i.e., will you float, work any shift, holidays, weekends, etc., all with a smile)? Do you have great time management (no one wants the nurse that racks up the incidental OT)? As Nurse Beth mentioned, do you have computer skills?

If you are not even getting interviews, then your resume and cover letter are the problem. Gaps in resumes usually are a red flag. HR assumes you were fired. So, if you are not working, try to at least volunteer so you have some current experience. The longer you are unemployed, the more likely HR will assume your skills are out-of-date.

If you are getting interviews, but no job offers, then your interviewing skills need some fine tuning. Practice the common interview questions. Make sure you look your best. And go in with the mindset that you can and will get the job (employers can smell desperation).

Good luck. I got my first (and only job) in acute care in my mid-40s. I have at least 50% gray hair, I have some massive bags under my eyes at all times, and I'm clinically obese. I had absolutely no healthcare experience prior to this job. So, it can be done. I'm positive it gets harder as we age, but it can be done.

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traumaRUs has 25 years experience as a MSN, APRN and works as a Asst Community Manager @ allnurses.

466 Likes; 14 Followers; 127 Articles; 184,820 Visitors; 20,483 Posts

I won't tell my age but suffice it say I'm far older than mid-40's. Enthusiasm, great customer service skills, ability to mentor, precept, teach all are positive skills.

Again, enthusiasm, computer skils are so very important. Also (and please don't take offense) talking about how old you are, what was popular in the 70's or 80's is a turn-off to many younger nurses. What I've found that works:

1. Being available and being the clinical leader - knowing your stuff.

2. Answering questions succinctly. For instance, today I was asked about antibiotic coverage for a pt - the other NP just wanted a yes/no answer which I provided along with a few-word explanation as to why that was the answer.

3. Don't be a know-it-all. Admit that you need to look something up or that you simply don't know the answer.

4. Don't complain about aches/pains. Don't share too much about your personal life with others. I know for sure I'm older than some of the NPs parents. However, that is not something I advertise - best to be thought of as younger.

5. Know the current trends - for instance FB is used for the most part by older nurses - younger nurses use Instagram, Twitter, other more instant social media avenues.

Above all - smile and appear happy to be coming to work. Nothing works better I've found then to at least appear happy, calm and in control.

Best wishes with your job search.

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not.done.yet has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and works as a Professional Development Specialist.

275 Likes; 4 Followers; 42,869 Visitors; 5,165 Posts

I second all of the above feedback. You don't say how old you are exactly or what kind of physical shape you are in. If you are overweight, movement impaired, limp or otherwise look to be a liability for a fast-paced floor, that combined with your age may very well scream out "not a good fit" for today's nursing environment. Since I know nothing about you, I do not know if this applies to you. If it does, you may wish to look into nursing positions that are less hard on the body and less likely to be judgy about your physical fitness for the job. Deconditioning combined with signs of not being computer savvy (ie typing in all caps, as mentioned above) can be the kiss of death regardless of age.

I train all of our new hires on our EHR system. We do hire older nurses pretty regularly. At least half of them struggle to comprehend the newest computer charting systems. It is a liability for them. It is also a liability for the facility. The ones who do poorly during orientation don't last long.

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Kaisu has 2 years experience and works as a Hospice.

7 Likes; 1,383 Visitors; 89 Posts

I got hired for my first nursing job at 59, and for the job of my dreams at 60. I am an excellent writer and worked over my resume and cover letter for each job. I researched the organization and used terminology from the corporate websites in the letter.

I have excellent interview skills and practiced with friends responding to curve ball questions.

I don't think age is the issue.

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Leader25 has 35 years experience.

55 Likes; 2 Followers; 4,228 Visitors; 658 Posts

If that is really your picture then age is an issue,as this is for privately discussed posts,respecting everyone's privacy.Fyi your pic can be copied and used on other sites.Just saying imho.

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