Dear Nurse Beth,
I'm returning to practice after a 10 year absence due to medical disability. This is raising all sorts of issues when it comes to filling out applications, submitting resumes, and writing cover letters. I really hope you can give me some solid advice.
I recently took a RN Refresher course and I don't know where to include this on my resume. I've seen it listed on some resumes under Professional experience and on others under Education or even Licenses & Certifications. My gut says listing it under Professional Experience gets rid of that initial impact of seeing my last nursing job was 10 years ago. Thoughts???
Is it appropriate to address my ten year absence from nursing in my cover letter? And if so, how do I best do this? I'm thinking in very general terms explain what happened, state I'm now in excellent health and able to return to nursing, this is what I learned from the experience and these are the qualities I can bring to your organization because of my experience.
One last question, when filling out job applications it asks reasons for leaving positions and/or gives options. I worked for one organization my entire career but was on FMLA/STD for longer than anticipated and when I was unable to return due to my doctor not releasing me medically I was "let go". How do I address that? I was rehired by the same organization a few months later when I was medically cleared. And then eventually had to leave again when I became permanently disabled. How do I address that?
I'm sorry I know it's all complicated but I don't want someone to take a look at my application/resume/cover letter and immediately trash it. (Although I realize the chances of that are pretty high.)
Thank you for your help!
Congrats on your return to health.
It is important how you frame your 10 yr absence from the workforce, but you cannot control how employers receive it. Under exactly which heading you choose to include your RN Refresher Course is not going to change the fact that your last nursing job was over 10 years ago. You are over thinking this a bit, although the most appropriate section is under Education.
As far as your work history, list the dates of employment from hire date to termination date (not date of medical leave). Do the same with your second round of employment with the same employer. It speaks to your performance that the organization re-hired you.
Your cover letter should briefly include that you are returning to the workforce after an extended health-related absence that is now entirely resolved. The reason for including it is that leaving it out only for the employer to discover later will not benefit you. The key is to be brief and immediately segue to the positive, focusing on the skills you bring to the table.
You have a unique challenge in that many employers will not be willing to train a nurse with a lengthy absence. Here is where sheer determination comes in. That means you have to persevere, apply to multiple organizations and keep your eye on the goal- to land that first job back into the workforce. Not your ideal job- your first job
Activate your network and ask for letters of recommendation from your Refresher Course instructors. Have you asked if they help with placement? Some of them should have ties to hiring facilities.
Finally, desperate times call for desperate measures and bold moves. Read about these strategies in my book below, for example, How to Successfully Conduct a Cold Call
Good luck, and keep us posted.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!