3 strategies second-career nurses can use to market skills, experience




These days, many nonmedical professionals are changing careers and shifting into nursing and healthcare. We’re seeing nurses entering the profession from careers in industries as varied as insurance, banking, publishing, retail and management.

As a significant number of younger nurses simultaneously enter the profession directly from the post-high school college experience, new nurses who are slightly (or significantly) older must find ways to call attention to their previous work experiences in order to market themselves to prospective employers. Here are three strategies for highlighting your previous career as you enter the nursing profession.

1) Tout transferable skills gained from other jobs.

Promote your previous work and life experiences on applications, resumes and cover letters. Whether you worked in banking or retail, there are always skills that are directly transferable to nursing, and these can be leveraged in a variety of ways. Employment in the retail sector necessitates the development of customer service skills, and experience in the insurance industry can make you valuable in terms of management and negotiation skills. Your previous work experiences can be beneficial in a nursing role.

2) Show why your maturity is an asset.

As a new nurse in your 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, your relative maturity can be seen as a strength if you showcase your life experience when applying for a job. You can refer to your age and maturity as strengths in terms of your history of working with others, your deep life experience, your varied skill sets and the wisdom and learned intelligence you bring to the table.

3) Demonstrate your grasp of the issues.

Mature entry-level nurses can use resumes, cover letters and interviews to communicate their understanding of healthcare and nursing issues. For instance, a nurse with experience as an insurance representative can demonstrate understanding of the complex world of the Affordable Care Act and the need for attention to detail in terms of ICD-10 codes and medical billing. Or a career in middle management may allow you to display keen insights regarding emotional intelligence and positive workplace culture.

If you’re an older entry-level nurse competing against 22-year-old college grads for the same positions, promote your personal and professional life experiences — and be proud of them. Your job is to convince a potential employer that it is worthwhile to invest in your skills, experience and maturity. Be yourself, put your cards on the table and allow an employer to see you for who you are — a competent new nurse with a plethora of life experience under your belt.

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About the author
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC 

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a popular nursing podcast, and also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He brings a plethora of experience as a nursing thought leader, holistic career coach, writer and nurse entrepreneur.

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