I have been waiting to post this for a long time! I hope this information will help anyone looking for a job. Some background info - I graduated with high honors December 2011, got licensed February 15th. I had applied to a couple places before getting licensed, but did not seriously look for a job until I got my license. I must have done 20 applications, getting no response and/or rejection letters left and right. This is nothing compared to how many applications some of you have done, but nonetheless I was down and hard on myself because it seemed like most of my classmates have gotten jobs. I kept on thinking, what is wrong with me? I graduated almost near the top of my class! I volunteer! I (think) my resume and cover letter rocks! Then one day, I read a post on allnurses.com that absolutely changed my life...
I got a job!!!! BOO-YOW!
In this post, the author details all the strategies they used to score six job offers, and they are not "conventional" methods. I learned that I must get out there and make something happen for myself because sending in the good ol' resume does NOT cut it anymore! Read the post because the strategies are outlined very well there. I will share with you how I personally used those strategies here.
On the weekend of March 3rd and 4th, I went about getting information and sending out emails. The key is to contact the director of nursing (DON)/nursing supervisor/nurse manager of every unit in every hospital you want to work at.
1. Search for Contacts
I started out just searching for names and emails. Google became my best friend. This strategy works best when the hospital is well-known and has many publications on the internet. I got tons of information on the largest hospital in my state just by reading their annual nursing report, going back 5 years. Lots directors, supervisors, and managers were on there.
2. Search for Names and Phone Number
If I could not locate them on the internet, I would call the hospital switchboard and ask for the unit. I would ask the unit clerk, "Can I have your DON's name and phone number?" I didn't want to be transferred because the NAME was most important to find their email address. Luckily the unit clerks often gave me the full name. Sometimes they would give me the first name and phone number. I didn't want to sound like a stalker, so I thanked them and carry on. I would call the number during lunchtime on the weekends (none of the DON's were in their office!) so it would go straight to voicemail. The voicemail will say, "Hi, you've reached so and so..." Sometimes I had to call two or three times to make sure I got the right name. I would verify that this was indeed the right person by, again, Googling them. I got 90% of DON names this way. The large hospital was easy, the smaller facilities are a bit tricky. There was this one facility that only gave me the first name and the DON was sitting right there so she picked up the phone. I panicked and hung up! But don't think that was the end of that (ha!) I Googled her first name and the hospital name together. I did not get the DON's full name but I did find that my clinical instructor, with the same first name, works at that facility as a charge nurse. SUCCESS! I email her and ask her to forward my info to the DON. It helps that I was very successful in my clinicals and she basically turned into another reference for me.
3. Search for Email
Now that you have the DON/supervisor/manager's name, you need to find their email. This part can be tricky if you are not familiar with the organization's email system. With the well-known organization, it was a piece of cake because I knew how their email worked. For the ones I didn't know, I scoured their website to look at examples of emails. You can also google it. Some formats that I ran across for "Jane Doe": firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Taking it one step further, you can use Verify Email Address Online - Free Email Verifier - Free Email Address Verification to verify your email. Keep in mind that this is not 100% accurate as it did give me false negatives and positives.
**If you have access to the hospital database, use it! I volunteered at a hospital and didn't think to get in there and look up the emails until after I had already done this detective work. I did verify the info I had with the database, however. It showed that my detective skills were ON POINT! Hehe.
4. Contact by Email
Once I had their email address, I wrote a short but precise email about how I'm interested in working for their hospital and unit. The format is almost like a cover letter. You must SELL yourself. I attached my cover letter, resume and a couple letters of recommendation. One thing to note about resumes is that I believe you should keep it to ONE PAGE. But that's just me.
Remember, I did this on the weekend. On Monday, I received THREE replies! One said that she did not have a position open, however, the other two said they will work with the nurse recruiter and schedule an interview. I was too excited. Throughout the week, I got various replies, from "I suggest you apply with HR" to "I anticipate an opening in the future and will keep you in mind".
IMPORTANT: No matter the reply, you must send an email thanking them. You never know what they can do for you now or in the future. Then on Wednesday, I got the THREE calls from HR to schedule interviews. I scheduled two interviews that Friday and one the following Monday.
It is so important to be prepared for your interview. Study the organization's vision, mission and values. Practice answering questions. Some questions I got were:
Tell me about yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What kind of patients do you like?
Name some interventions you've carried out.
I got scenarios of patients and how I would react. For example, you walk in to Mr. X's room and see him collapsed on the floor, what do you do?
The most difficult questions are "Tell me a time when you..." You must study these questions beforehand because they are difficult to come up on the spot. Luckily they are quite predictable questions. One's I got are, tell me a time when you.... made a mistake, went above and beyond for a patient, have conflict with coworkers/classmates, how you manage stress. The key to this questions is to be positive. When you tell them the mistake you made, tell them how you learned from it and moved on.
The worst is to tell them that you've never made a mistake. Be honest!
Talk about your passion for nursing, how you are a patient advocate and will put them first.
Come prepared with at least 10 questions. Asking questions show that you are beyond "interested in the job". You need to know if you would be a good fit for the organization and for the unit. My interviewers were very impressed at what questions I threw at them. Make sure you have the questions memorized, it does not look good when you have to glance down at your paper to read off the questions.
Other interview tidbits is to be on time. I cannot stress this enough. If you are not familiar with the hospital, you must go there extra early. Parking and walking to the hospital/floor can take up quite a bit of time. You could even do a test drive the day before so that you are 100% sure where you will be the following day. Dress professionally and conservatively. I put my hair up, used minimal makeup, minimal jewelry (pearls), black pants, black blazer (this looks sharp on everyone), and 3" pumps (nothing more than 3 inch, seriously, wear those when you are going out, not at a job interview). I brought extra resume's in a black leather folder and left everything else in my car. After the interview, I wrote thank you letters to everyone that interviewed me. I wrote different letters to everyone on the same floor. You don't want to look lazy using the same message.
I got "the call" on March 19th, two weeks from when I started contacting the DONs. I received two offers that day and another offer a couple of days later. I officially accepted an offer today and learned that it has a $3,000 sign on bonus. Say what?! I am so, so blessed. I don't know where I would be if I had not stumbled on that original post. I'd also like to add that I was turned down by a nursing home and home health position. I was praying every night that something would happen. This was my answer. I always had faith that God has a plan for me. I firmly believe I got turned down because there were better opportunities out there. God is good! :loveya:
Tips on Nursing Job Interview Mistakes (added by staff)... [video=youtube_share;C9zHPGT8RrQ]