Throughout your career as a nurse, everything you create, publish, write, communicate, or otherwise put out into the world serves as part of the database of your nursing career. From your LinkedIn profile and resume to your tweets and updates, your personal and professional brand is to a large extent fed and watered by the paper and digital trail of your career.
Nurses, What Are You Saying?
What you say about yourself is a big part of your career database, nurses. When your resume lands on someone's desk, it is 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 database that has a serious flaw 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 Pulse, the native blogging platform on that site. Writing on LinkedIn Pulse 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 best and most user-friendly. In doing this, you create a virtual paper trail that empowers your personal brand, showing 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 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 has 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 computer hard drive for safe keeping.
Perhaps you have 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 how effective those videos are for learning. In the 21st century, you can document your expertise in many 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 career.
You bear the responsibility for conscientiously managing your career database, and it can be an empowered, 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 is strengthened. It's a continuum and an ongoing process.
Build your career database proactively, with an eye towards the future of your nursing career; 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; you can ask for testimonials and references, and your other endeavors to deepen your database will be driven by your desire for professional success and fulfillment.
Your career database is like an enormous portfolio of both digital and non-digital data that paints 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 for the future.
NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show,
his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses.
Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of "Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century."
He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the
nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service,
LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.
Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader,
online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known
successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his
lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.