Nurses, What Are You Saying?
What you say about yourself is a big part of your career database. When your resume lands on someone's desk, it's a paper (or digital) representation of you and your career. Even if you're not offered the position for which you're applying, that resume may sit in a drawer or file and be revisited later for another position that opens up down the road. If your resume or cover letter are substandard, then you're creating a flawed database that may come back and bite you in the gluteus maximus later on.
Let's say you go to a job fair and you bad-mouth your current employer to a recruiter from a competing hospital. That recruiter may agree with you in the moment and share a laugh about your employer; however, the next day, she may only remember that you're the nurse who was pretty free with his criticism, and she may wonder how loyal an employee you would truly be if she took a chance and hired you.
Meanwhile, maybe you've decided to begin posting articles on LinkedIn. Publishing your own content on LinkedIn can position you as an expert and clearly demonstrate that you know what you're talking about. If you're an ICU nurse who really understands programmable IV pumps, you might write a series of articles about the pumps you think are the most user-friendly. In doing this, you create a virtual paper trail that empowers your personal brand, demonstrating to colleagues and potential employers that you're smart, savvy, a good writer, and an excellent candidate as a nurse educator.
Create Your Expertise
The above-mentioned nurse who really knows IV pumps has a special unassailable expertise: she can describe those pumps, point out their flaws and idiosyncrasies, and run circles around other nurses. This nurse can share her knowledge through writing, verbal instruction, and through how she leverages that expertise in her resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and during job interviews. In her nursing career database, IV pumps and her critical knowledge and skill are a major point of strength.
Another nurse is a savvy executive and leader. He's been a manager, a Chief Nursing Officer, and a unit nursing supervisor. In the course of his seven years in management and leadership, he's asked colleagues to write testimonials about him on his LinkedIn profile (do you get the feeling I think LinkedIn is important for nurses' careers?), and several of those testimonials have also been printed on letterhead, signed by the writers, and stashed in a convenient hard drive for safe keeping.
Perhaps you've taken part in research and had your name listed as a co-author. Maybe you make patient education YouTube videos in your spare time and enjoy getting feedback from both patients and other professionals about the effectiveness of those videos. In the 21st century, you can document your expertise in so many creative ways.
Conscientiously Manage Your Career Database
This career database I'm talking about isn't a static thing that never changes or evolves. Your career database is an organic, growing entity that will morph and stretch along with you. When you move from bedside nursing to research or management, your database comes along for the ride and its nature will be changed by your new experiences. If you become a nurse entrepreneur, your career will shift, and your paper/virtual trail will be populated with new data, taking on an identity that's aligned with who you are now in the context of the overall trajectory of your nursing career.
You bear the responsibility for conscientiously managing your career database, and it can be an empowered and joyful process. With every certification earned, your skills and knowledge deepen, and your credibility broadens. With each blog post, resume update, interview, or YouTube video, your nursing identity is solidified and your database strengthened. It's an ongoing process.
Build your career database proactively, with an eye towards the future of your nursing career, and make decisions based on your short-term, mid-term, and long-term career goals.
No one will necessarily add to your nursing career database for you, but you can, of course, ask for testimonials and references. Your other endeavors to deepen your database will be driven by your desire for professional fulfillment.
Your career database is like an enormous portfolio of both digital and non-digital data that paint a picture of who you are and what you're all about as a nursing professional. Build it with a sense of proactive, conscientious thought in the interest of your future success and satisfaction.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known nursing blog, Digital Doorway. Please visit his online platforms and reach out for his support when you need it most.
Keith is the host of The Nurse Keith Show, his solo podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century and Aspire to be Inspired: Creating a Nursing Career That Matters. He has contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession. Keith has written for Nurse.com, Nurse.org, MultiBriefs News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University, Black Doctor, Diabetes Lifestyle, the ANA blog, NursingCE.com, American Nurse Today, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online and print publications.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, keynote speaker, online nurse personality, social media influencer, podcaster, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives, and his adorable and remarkably intelligent cat, George.