The One-Dimensional Job Search
In a one-dimensional job search process, it kind of looks like this: you get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, and open your computer. You then peruse job boards like Indeed and Monster looking for open positions that might interest you. Once you've exhausted those prospects, you might check the websites of employers you'd consider working for.
What's wrong with this picture?
Well, nothing's absolutely wrong with this approach at face value, but it's honestly a one-dimensional strategy for tackling a multidimensional challenge. A job search isn't complete without a full frontal attack, as well as an assiduous search for side doors, back doors, and a way to parachute in when no doors are apparent. Not all jobs are found through an online job search, and anyone relying on that process is more likely than not missing out on the chance to turn over more than the usual stones.
Not All Jobs Are Advertised
Some references say that 70 percent of jobs are found through networking -- still others say it's even more than that. More people than you can probably imagine find jobs through personal and professional connections. And if you have a robust network, you have a lot of strings to pull in the interest of achieving your goal of finding the right position.
I've blogged before about the importance of finding allies within your network, and I've even written a book about savvy networking for nurses. On episode 65 of my podcast, I talked about the four types of nurse networkers, a concept taken directly from my book. Learning how to be the best networker you can possibly be will open myriad doors, including when you're looking for a job.
Informational interviews are an essential tool of deep networking, wherein you're reaching out to individuals you've targeted for specific reasons. They might be gate-keepers, influencers, or holders of crucial information that you need about a position, an employer, a facility, an area of specialty practice, or other pertinent data you need to prudently move forward.
Remember that not all jobs are advertised. Who you know can greatly influence your ability to look under rocks that your competitors may not know are there.
Your Career Toolbox
In a three-dimensional job search strategy, you not only network in an effective and efficient way, you also have every tool in your nursing career toolbox sharpened and ready for action.
Your resume, cover letter, business card, and LinkedIn profile are four tools that must be in perfect working order at all times. You should reviewing, edit, and update your resume at least twice per year, and your cover letters should be targeted and based on keywords found in the ads you're responding to.
These items are the nuts and bolts of your toolbox, but you can't just rely on these tools to get you hired. It does sometimes work, but a job search and career development process with more depth and breadth will likely bear the more of the right fruit.
Becoming Your Own Sales Rep
Make no mistake, the job search process is about sales, and you and your skills are the commodity.
Sales involves written communication, face-to-face skills like networking and interviewing, and also your ability to pitch yourself as the best candidate for the job. Thinking like a salesperson will help you to identify your personal brand, make your strongest pitch, and put your best foot forward.
Another important tool is your ability to interview well and represent yourself in the best possible light. (This also happens in your cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and resume, of course.)
Meanwhile, your interview skills must be brought up to speed and maximized for positive effect. Informational interviews are great practice, as is going to job interviews for the purpose of practicing how you verbally represent yourself.
A lackadaisical approach to your nursing career development isn't necessarily going to move you forward in a powerful way. Staying inspired about your work is important.
How can you be at your very best in job interviews or networking when you feel uninspired and unhappy in your career and life? Inspiration has to be ongoing, or you'll just be another morose nurse who can't find her place in the profession and feels disconnected from why she even chose nursing in the first place. Getting bored at work can bring you down and lead to burnout and compassion fatigue, if not simply feeling glum about what you do. That kind of ennui is the enemy of inspiration.
Inspiration may come in the form of reading blogs, books, or articles that lift your spirits and reinvigorate you emotionally, intellectually, or otherwise. My book, Aspire to be Inspired: Creating a Nursing Career That Matters could help you on that score, among many other nursing and non-nursing books out there in the world.
Finding your own sources of inspiration is important, and it may come from spending time in nature, volunteering to help kids with homework in an afterschool program, or hanging out with your favorite octogenarian. It's up to you where you draw inspiration from, but you must remain conscious of the human need to fill your cup with the good stuff again and again. How else can you show up inspired in your work if you're not inspired outside of it? And this includes your career growth and job search activities.
Personal Growth and Wellness
On episode 132 of The Nurse Keith Show, I discussed how doing your inner work (your psychological, emotional, and spiritual growth) can bring about a happier career and a higher level of overall satisfaction in your life. Nurturing your inner world and personal wellness can help you to be more resilient, to see your work and life from a healthy perspective, and approach the stages of your career with optimism, openness, and joy.
And when you've done your work, that shines through in both subtle and not to subtle ways when you're networking, talking with colleagues, sitting in an informational interview, or applying for a new position.
The more personal authenticity that you can bring to the table vis-a-vis your career, the more likely you are to be happy, fulfilled, and able to land a job that's a good fit.
A Three-Dimensional Strategy
A robust and inspired three-dimensional job search and career strategy is one powerful key to your happiness and career satisfaction. A one-dimensional strategy puts all of your eggs in one basket, and if those eggs don't hatch, you risk feeling like a failure.
If you're actively in the job market, sitting at your desk and scrolling through Indeed and Monster in your pajamas every morning is a lonely endeavor that may or may not bear fruit. Sure, look for jobs online and apply for them, but if that strategy doesn't turn up much to shake a stick at, consider how you can shake things up and not beat your head against the same wall over and over again.
When an army is fighting a battle, they don't just attack the enemy from the front. They come from the sides, try to get behind enemy lines, and perhaps also come from the sea and the air. This isn't to say that your career development and job search should feel like a battle (may it never!), but a multi-front endeavor will be more likely to see success.
Many nurses contact me when their online job searches haven't borne fruit and they're unsure what to do next. I can't count how many emails I receive from people who just can't find a position and get hired through job boards.
In our coaching process together, I work with clients to first assess their goals and aspirations, and then dive deep into what they really think of themselves. Of course, we sharpen up the tools in their career toolbox, but I also cajole them to hit the streets and do some assiduous guerilla networking in the interest of getting the energy to move.
Moving the energy may sound like a New Age dictum, but I've seen this work time and again. When a nurse in search of a new opportunity sits at home and just looks for positions on their computer, things feel flat and lifeless. A multifaceted approach gets things moving, helping the nurse to feel like they have something to offer and a means to get there. These types of efforts are usually rewarded with results -- and results are, after all, what we're after.
Consider your job search and career development strategy, and get with the program in terms of developing a three-dimensional modus operandi for a three-dimensional challenge.
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, American Nurse Today, NursingCE.com, 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 their adorable and remarkably intelligent cat, George. (You can find George on Instagram by using the hashtag #georgethecatsantafe.)