How to Market Your Nursing Skills
Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB knew in 2013 after she had her second child that the overtime and night shift hours weren’t going to make her feel like the best mother, wife, and nurse. She honed in on her love of writing and started Write RN, a content agency in 2015.
She also wrote the book, Entreprenurse, which includes contributions from 30+ nurses that summarizes more than 15 careers nurses can do away from the bedside, ranging from creative work to managing a home care business.
This recent event will send you off with ideas on how you can start to market those core skills you developed at the bedside to empower you away from the bedside and help serve people in a different way.
Getting Started: Soft Skills Deep Dive
Let’s take a look at core soft skills. What skills do nurses have?
- Cultural awareness
- Detail oriented
- Critical thinking
- Good communicator
- Life-long learner
- Strong work ethic
When looking at this list, pick or think about the skills that you feel you relate to the most.
Core Nursing Soft Skills
Next, think about which of those 15 skills do nurses have that translate to a different career? (This is not an exhaustive list! Be creative!)
Soft skills: Almost all of them
Soft skills: Communication, organization, problem solving, professionalism, cultural awareness
3. Medical or Pharmaceutical Sales
Soft skills: Networking, organization, strong work ethic, respectful, communication, professionalism
4. Legal Nurse Consultant
Soft skills: Professionalism, respectful, productive, strong work ethic, detail-oriented
Soft skills; Life-long learner, detail-oriented, productive, respectful, critical thinker, innovative
6. Medical Writer
Soft skills: Life-long learner, detail oriented, good work ethic, productive, organized, good communicator
7. IT Jobs
Soft skills: Problem solver, life-long learner, good communicator, respectful, professional, innovative
8. Research Coordinator
Soft skills: Networking, good communicator, empathy, critical thinking, compassion, professionalism, organized, detail-oriented
9. Case Management
Soft skills: Organized, professional, detail-oriented, life long learner, cultural awareness
10. Holistic Health
Soft skills: Life-long learner, good work ethic, communication, empathy, professionalism, cultural awareness
Matching Soft Skills to Job Opportunities
What’s next? Now, look at the above options and think about two questions:
- Which jobs could I do?
- Which jobs do I want to do?
Which job(s) do you think you would like? Create a list like the one below, and think about which opportunity resonates the most with you.
- Case Management
- Medical Sales
- Legal Consultant
- IT Analyst
- Research Coordinator
- Holistic Health
5 Steps to Market Your Nursing Skills
Which qualities in the job description do you already possess?
Take a look at the job descriptions of the opportunities on your list and think about...
- For example, if "leader" is in the job description... Have you been a charge nurse?
- If "Able to work independently" is mentioned… Do you have your own caseload of patients everyday?
- And so on...
Make sure your read job descriptions and keep up-to-date with industry news within the industry you want to transfer into to gather ideas for what those companies are looking for in their employees and what new positions may be available.
“Women only apply for jobs when they are 100 percent qualified. Men, on the other hand, tend to apply when they are only 60 percent qualified.”
When this data was released via an internal report by Hewlett-Packard several years ago, many credited this disparity to a lack of confidence among women. Extra info here and here (this actually debunks the confidence disparity and instead highlights the lack of transparency in the hiring process).
Connect the Dots
Look at the job you're applying for and try to outline the roadmap to getting there. Maybe you're applying for an IT role from a bedside nurse role. In a resume objective, highlight the experiences you have. Make it clear how your former career has provided you the skills you need for this new industry and job.
Think about the skills you might possess—strong work ethic, good communicator, problem solver, organized and productive—and think about how you can incorporate those skills into your cover letter and resume.
Highlight Your Soft Skills
If you were the go-to nurse for IV starts, great, but when you are applying for those outside the bedside jobs, the skills that matter most are the ones that the nurse possesses internally. If you love to teach, brag about those whom you have already educated.
Talk about how you made a care plan personalized for your patient, and how you made it easy for them to understand. Or maybe your unit was not doing well in an area and you came up with a solution because you love to learn and research; talk about it!
Build your narrative through your soft skills:
- Translating care plans - Do you make details easy to understand?
- Solution building - Have you helped build a team?
- Learning/researching - Have you come up with a solution for your unit?
- Educating - Have you presented information through a committee?
Create a Resume
It might have been a while, but there are resume resources out there for you! In the meantime, here’s how you can begin updating your resume.
Revamp your resume:
- Start with the objective (write down your skills from the job description)
- Skills section (highlight those hard and soft skills from your prior job)
- Enlist help! (resume supports, Trusted Resume Builder)
Jobs Beyond the Bedside
Where can you find nursing jobs beyond the bedside?
- Remote healthcare work
- Set job alerts (Indeed, Google Jobs, Monster.com)
- LinkedIn (more on this below)
- Trusted vaccine jobs
LinkedIn Tips & Tricks
Here are some simple tips and tricks to get you set up and started on LinkedIn.
1. Public profile
Make sure your profile is set to public.
2. Profile picture
Your picture (NEVER a selfie), always a professional photo.
3. Optimizing your profile
Start with your headline; this is the number one area… You can also "LinkedIn stalk" some people in that industry to see what they have in their headlines and summaries to give yourself ideas (but don't steal their hard work, make it your own).
This is the statement that shows what you are doing and what you are transitioning into next. You can say something like, "My experience with leadership as a charge nurse for many years has brought me into a career in leadership." Never say you were laid off or anything negative about the current career. Bring those soft skills to light and add them to why you are changing directions (be excited!).
Remember from doing your research in the industry to include those skills that can transfer into your next career.
Include networks and skills in your LinkedIn profile, accomplishments, certifications, etc.
How Can You Best Use LinkedIn?
Network with those in groups
LinkedIn, like Facebook, has groups that are related to the industry you are interested in pursuing. Get in those groups and ask questions, answer questions, and connect with others. Even better, schedule a call with someone to ask them how they like the career and how you can make yourself "seen."
As a nurse, even though I have my own business, I have nurse job recruiters reaching out to me all the time. If you are on LinkedIn, here are some tips on how to transition into a new industry and how to portray that on your profile.
Start to become very knowledgeable in the industry you're looking to apply for; this will give you time to understand the jargon used in another industry. You want to know how to talk and think like them in order to understand the job as much as possible.
It will also make sure you are blind-sided by what the industry actually does, from what you think they do (my OB nursing experience for example). You never know who you'll meet and how you can get the "in." Make sure you go at it as a serving person, not a selfish person.
Did you know you can get a job right through LinkedIn? Yep. Sign up for their job alerts on your profile!
Get started! Your LinkedIn checklist in a nutshell:
- Research the industry to become knowledgeable
- Use a professional business profile
- Create a great headline
- Create a clear summary
- Network in groups
- Set up job alerts
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