How to Look For a Nursing Job or Promotion in a Tough Economy

By Catherine Garner, DrPH, RN, Provost and Dean

No matter the industry, the recent economic downturn has created a very competitive job market for everyone. In healthcare, many nurses are now discovering that, when applying for jobs, on-the-job training is seemingly obsolete and many hospitals require two years of service within that hospital.

Additionally, the recession brought many nurses back into practice and discouraged many from retiring. This means that positions are very competitive and creativity is crucial in the job search.

If your goal is to gain a promotion within your organization, many Chief Nursing Officers have created planning processes for succession of leaders and managers. Step up and convey to nursing management that you’re interested in growing professionally and are willing to continue your education to advance.

Check with professional nursing associations about membership and continuing education. For example, if you are interested in critical care, but don’t have the experience, seek out continuing education with the American Association of Critical Care Nurses – and let prospective employers know that you are actively receiving as much education as possible to succeed in your desired role.

Compile a detailed list of reasons an employer would benefit by hiring you, even if your experience does not compare to other candidates. Highlight your communication skills, your professionalism with families and other nurses, and your ability to work effectively within a team.

It is also important to specify your desire to improve healthcare practice. Provide instances where you’ve improved practice in the past, citing in-services or participation on hospital or professional associations or committees. Letters of recommendation from previous employers and patients are also very useful. Prepare to explain how your performance exceeds that of other candidates, as this is what differentiates you from the competition.

Also, join local chapters of various nursing organizations to network with others in your desired profession; creating a lasting impression within these organizations can open doors with prospective employers. You should also volunteer with prominent organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.

Lastly, research internships outside of acute care: primary care centers, home and hospice care, managed care organizations, informatics companies and pharmaceutical companies. Look for organizations that are seeking nurse educators, retirement and assisted living facilities, free-standing surgical care centers, the Red Cross, physician clinics and other non-traditional providers. When searching for employment in an economy where the unemployment rate hovers around ten percent, one must be willing to temporarily work for free to prove worth to a potential employer.

HealthLeaders Media has an article on how new nurses are finding it tough to find a job in today’s market. I hope my suggestions here will help.

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