I have only been licensed for a year and have only had one job as an RN. I was fired because of two minor med errors, and because the job was not a good fit. Nearly all the job postings I find required over a year’s experience. I have gotten two interviews in four months. I want to be honest about why I was terminated, but I know how it must sound. I don’t want to say anything bad about my previous employer, but a large part of what led to the second error was the stress in the workplace after I told them I was pregnant.
I’ve applied for more than 100 jobs since then and am getting desperate. What should I do to get interviews and how should I approach the subject of being fired?
Dear Donna replies:
Dear Got Fired,
What happened is unfortunate. You are not the first nurse to encounter such difficulties, and like many before you, you can move past this and get your career back on track.
For starters, it’s important to know that the job market for nurses is evolving. Both new and experienced nurses need to look in new directions for employment and learn/use new skills to find and get those jobs. To get caught up on job market trends as well as effective marketing strategies read New nurse, new job strategies (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).
Next, realize that networking is a vital component of your job search as it is one of the most effective ways to find a job. This is especially true when you have obstacles to overcome. You should start attending nursing professional association meetings (as a guest if you don’t belong to any), career fairs, etc. Read How to get the most out of attending a career fair (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Career-fair). To see what’s coming up in your area, visit (http://www.nurse.com/events/career-fairs).
You also should telephone or speak in person to everyone you know, both in and out of healthcare. Tell them what you’re looking for, ask for leads, introductions, referrals and recommendations. You may not be accustomed to doing this or even comfortable doing it, but it is necessary. Read Picking up the pieces of your career (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces). For more detailed, step-by-step information about how and where to effectively network (and other job finding techniques), read my book, The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses (www.nurse.com/ce/7250).
Regarding what to say on an interview about why you left your last job: be honest but low key about it and only offer the information if asked. Theres no need to volunteer information. You might say something like, “I got off on the wrong foot at my first job and had some family challenges at that time. I learned a few hard lessons from the experience and can assure you nothing like that will happen again. I have taken steps to develop more skills and confidence, such as attending nursing professional association meetings.
Ideally, you would join your state chapter of ANA (www.ana.org), start attending meetings and doing some volunteer work while between jobs. You can find a volunteer position as a nurse in a free clinic, public health department, hospice, etc., while you look for paid employment.
Be positive, upbeat and enthusiastic and don’t focus on or dwell on how the last job ended. Focus on your strengths and what you do have to offer. Let them know you are committed to being successful this time around.
When what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to try a new approach. You can’t rely solely on submitting online resumes. You have to be much more proactive in the process and move forward.