Career Advice From Nurse Managers and Recruiters
What nurses should do to get (and stay) hired
We asked the people responsible for hiring nursing staff at several Southern California hospitals the following four questions: When interviewing a nurse, what are you looking for? How can nurses improve their chances of being hired? What do nurses do wrong during the hiring process? And, what is the most common reason for terminating a nurse's employment? Here’s what they said.
When interviewing a nurse, what are you looking for?
“Traits that demonstrate an ability to work in a fast-paced team environment.”
— Rene Martinez, human resources supervisor, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center
“While the technical side of nursing and the work experience is important, we find that other skills are just as important for long-term success, such as: good communication skills, strong team work skills, problem-solving skills, organization, respect for others, continuing interest in learning, leadership abilities, a caring personality and, last but definitely not least, a sense of humor.”
— Wendy Crawford, director of workforce planning, Good Samaritan Hospital
“Willingness to learn from any mistakes that they have made in the past; a team player who works well and cooperates with others; treats patients, family members and co-workers with dignity
— LeVell McCune, recruitment manager/nurse recruiter, St. Jude Medical Center
“I look for energy, compassion, professionalism and experience.”
— Kristin W. Anderson, senior health care recruiter, Glendale Memorial Hospital
“The nursing shortage has brought people into the nursing profession because of the money. Money cannot replace passion. I am looking for a nurse who is passionate about providing quality patient care, a true patient advocate. I want someone who is passionate about the profession of nursing, someone who is knowledgeable about its history and possesses an insight into its future. I am looking for a professional nurse.”
— Nurse recruiter in Southern California
How can nurses improve their chance of being hired?
“Research the organization to which they are applying.”
“Expand their experience with leadership roles in organizations and broaden their view of the world by getting involved in activities that will broaden their view of themselves and nursing.”
“Realize that even though they are nurses, they should dress professionally. Most nurses come in for interviews wearing jeans, flip-flops and T-shirts with words on them. Treat the front desk receptionist with respect. Be willing to be trained. Realize that they do not know everything and be open to learning.”
“The basics are important. Come to the interview on time and dressed professionally; be prepared to answer specific questions about your nursing experience; and give examples of how you handled a variety of situations. Make sure you ask for the nursing director’s business card and send him or her a brief thank you note via email.”
“A resume or application will be the first chance a nurse applicant has to make a good impression. Misspelled words and incomplete applications show a lack of attention to detail and could be the difference in getting a call for an interview. Spend the time to complete the application completely and accurately because there is only one chance to make a good first impression.”
— Nurse recruiter
What do nurses do wrong during the hiring process?
“Concentrate purely on the monetary compensation and not on the total work/career experience.”
“It is very important to be very professional during the interview process. Oftentimes we see people showing up for interviews dressed in an inappropriate way — with sloppy clothes, too many body piercings, visible tattoos and hairstyles and colors that are not professional or natural looking.”
“Be sure to check you email and voicemail and respond right away to requests. Don’t be the reason your start date is delayed.”
“They do not come prepared to interviews. Do your homework on the requirements of the position. Ensure you bring the proper licenses and certifications to the interview to show you meet these requirements. Research the organization; you want to show you understand the mission and values of the organization. Dress professionally for an interview. Do not assume the recruiter has your resume. Be prepared to show why you are the best nurse for the position.”
— Nurse recruiter
What is the most common reason for terminating a nurse’s employment?
“There are a wide variety of reasons that nurses get terminated. It can be anything from unprofessional behavior to attendance problems. Sometimes it is even something as simple as not keeping their license up to date.”
“The root cause for terminations is failing to effectively communicate with their nurse manager. Simple things like calling in sick can become a big issue when it is not communicated to the nurse manager. Never assume your nurse manager has been informed; take responsibility and contact them and eliminate any doubt. Don’t let the little things become big things.”
— Nurse recruiter
Any other career advice for nurses?
“Make sure to take a healthy, balanced approach to life that carries over to your nursing career.”
“There are great opportunities for nurses to move into management positions and contribute in critical ways. A great way to rise above the crowd is to look at the challenges of managing a unit or department. Nurses are so key to the success of the hospital and the health and well-being of the patients. By working direct patient care they see what works well and what doesn’t. If they can help with suggesting improvements and efficiencies in work flow, everyone in the organization will benefit.”
“Nursing is so much more than a job; it is a profession. Continue to move nursing forward professionally both through advocacy and through personal practice. Become a member of professional nursing organizations to give voice to nursing. Through personal practice render the best nursing care at your disposal, each and every day with each and every patient. Through this practice you will continue to elevate the nursing profession.”
— Nurse recruiter