Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cover Letters and Nurse Practitioners

There seems to be some confusion about cover letters.  I have seen some advice on the big box job sites that is telling job seekers that the advice to include a cover letter may be a thing of the past.  No doubt this will have many of you jumping for joy – I mean, who likes to write a cover letter anyway? 
As always I feel compelled to issue my standard warning: Caution! The majority of advice you will find online is geared towards job seekers in the business community and are therefore may not be applicable to the Nurse Practitioner profession.  
When you read general job advice columns it is important to slow down and read the fine print. First, make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.  What I found is that if you read carefully you will find that the advice refers only to email inquiries and applications.  In other words, you must be emailing an actual person rather than submitting an online application directly into the system.  As most of you already know, that doesn’t happen very often.  Most “apply here” links take you into an automated applicant system and not to an actual HR representative. 
The article makes the assertion that since you are emailing then your email can take the place of the cover letter. Fair enough. I do agree with that point.  Of course, what is not clearly stated is that it is necessary that your email be formatted and written exactly like, well …a cover letter.  So you can see that the reports of the demise of the cover letter are indeed premature and greatly exaggerated. It seems that the point the articles are making is that your cover letter information should be in your email rather than sent as an email attachment.
Here is the NP Career Coach’s advice on covers letters for Advanced Practice or NP jobs. 

1.      You still need one.  Cover letters are not mere decoration for your resume.  A cover letter tells the prospective employer you are capable of professional-grade written communication skills and that you possess at least a minimum understanding of the social graces.  Nothing starts you off on the wrong foot with an employer quite like a sending an email that states only “I am interested in your position” or “attached is my resume”.  No greeting, no closing, just bad manners. 

2.      Cover letters are a great way to fill in areas that are not always clear on a resume. For example, explaining gaps in employment and articulating your goals and interests. You can also let the employer know whether or not you are interested in any other positions.  Oh, and if you know someone who works there you can (and should) name drop. J

3.      Do it all. Attach it, put it in the body of your email too.  Who cares if they receive two copies of the same thing?  It’s just not that big of a deal.  Some prefer to have an attachment and some prefer an email so do both and give them options.  Attachments look better than emails when printed and that can be a plus.  Putting your cover letter in the body of the email will increase the chances it is read upon opening.  But as you all know an inbox can get cluttered and saved emails sometimes get deleted.  Adding an attachment allows the recipient the ability to download and save your cover letter. 

4.      One of the most frustrating problems I encountered as a recruiter was receiving hundreds of attachments titled “cover letter” or “resume” which made it very difficult to find a particular candidates file. Problem solved.  You can easily avoid this confusion by naming your attachments with your name rather than “cover letter”.  See how easy that was?  Remember, the idea is to stand out and make your application easier to find.

5.      And finally, if you don’t already have one you should create a professional email account with your full name.  Busy recruiters and hiring managers don’t have the time to scroll through an inbox or contact list trying to guess which email is from you.  Using your full name as your email address just makes it that much easier to find you.  It also makes you look more mature than using an email address such as “proudmommy” or “catluvver”.    

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

You can't "redo" an interview. Tips to get your interview right the first time


There are good interviews and there are great interviews.  Simply showing up on time and rehashing your resume does not constitute a good interview, much less a great one.

But before I can teach you how to ace your next interview let’s first be clear about the purpose of an interview.  In today’s healthcare market employers are looking for more than just the right skill set, they want the right fit.  The interview is the best method an employer has to get a glimpse into WHO you are and what you are like as a person. Interviews are an opportunity for an employer to see firsthand how you think and how you organize your thoughts and to determine whether or not you will be a good fit with the culture of their organization. 

I just recently sat through a round of several interviews and while the candidates said all the right things many of them still didn't make the right impression.  I realized that even though they all were bright talented clinicians they made some errors that undermined their skills and left a poor impression.

These easily avoidable errors fall into the following categories.  

Articulation and detail: Employers appreciate that when you are asked a direct question you provide a direct answer.  Simply asserting that you are organized, flexible or caring doesn't set you apart or make it true.  In fact, it sounds as if you are pandering and just telling your interviewer what they want to hear.  For example, many candidates dance around questions relating to conflict, leadership and teamwork with indirect answers that seem to show they understand the concepts but in the end don’t really provide a satisfactory answer to the question. What your interviewer really wants to hear from you are examples of how you have demonstrated leadership, solved a problem or worked on a team.  When you relate a real life story it also has the added benefit of humanizing you and makes you sound more natural and authentic than simply reciting some well-rehearsed talking points.   And if you really want to impress your interviewer, make sure that the example you provide is pertinent to the position you are seeking.  This will also help your interviewer to actually envision you in the position.  

Planning: Expect the expected.  During your interview you will inevitably be asked classic interview questions such as “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”  There is truly no good excuse for job seekers who stumble and stammer when asked “what makes you the right NP or PA for this position?”  If any of these questions ever catch you off guard during an interview the employer will assume that there has been a lack of thought and preparation on your part. Seriously, these are Interview 101 questions that employers have asked applicants since the beginning of time.  Why would anyone want to hire a clinician who failed to see the foreseeable?   

Self-awareness:    If you know you have performance anxiety then why didn't you take steps to address the problem?  Some nervousness is understandable but it’s almost painful to conduct an interview when a candidate has let their nerves get the best of them.  It important that you be perceived as poised and confident, not remembered for how stressed out you were during the interview.  Strategies such as staying away from caffeine, doing some relaxation techniques and arriving early are helpful but if you really want to lick your stage fright then you need to do what performers do before a big show - practice. Find a friend to do a mock interview with you, and then rehearse over and over until your butterflies are gone.     

Body Language: Great candidates are also in control of their non-verbal communication.  Be the first to extend your hand, because the person who initiates the handshake is perceived as the most confident.  Good eye contact is a must.  Find something to do with your hands during the interview if you tend to be fidgety.  It can be really distracting when candidates click a pen or touch their hair repeatedly.  And, you know, like, watch the, umm, annoying verbal fillers too.  

Social skills: Yes, it IS possible for you to talk too much in your interview.  One of the biggest complaints I hear from hiring managers is that the candidate “hi-jacked” and took over the interview.  Let the interviewer set the agenda and the pace. The best candidates understand that interviews also involve listening.  Employers want to share information about their organization and their open position.  Your job is to be engaged, don’t interrupt, and listen politely.  When it is your turn to speak, take a second or two to gather your thoughts before you begin.  No one will notice and you will sound smarter.  

Manners: Interviewers also appreciate when you save your questions until the end. This is especially true if the interview is highly structured. It can be difficult for the interviewer to stay on track and organized if a candidate is repeatedly interjecting with questions.  And please, always have some questions prepared.  There is nothing that makes you look more disinterested to an interviewer than when you have no questions.  

Attitude: There is a saying that people may not remember what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel.  People are drawn to people who have a good attitude and a positive outlook.  Complaining is a red flag, so you should always speak favorably about your previous experiences and former colleagues and leave out the negatives.  And smile.  Your behavior during an interview is a proxy indicator to an employer of how you might behave when you are with a patient. 

Now go rock your next interview! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hello! What Does it Take for a New Grad to get Some Attention Around Here?


Dear NP Career Coach: 

I am a new grad NP and I am in the process of job search. I am struggling to get even an interview. Could you help me with how to market myself so that I can get the recruiters to look at my resume?

Dear New Grad NP:    

When crafting your new grad resume keep these points in mind.  
  1. Your resume needs to demonstrate that you have the skills the employer wants.
  2. The only thing that matters is what the employer wants. 
  3. As a new graduate the most marketable experience you have is your clinical rotations. 
     
    To be successful your resume must contain clear and easy to find information.  You can’t get an interview if the recruiter can’t determine whether or not you meet the requirements.   Your resume will have about 30 seconds to catch the eye of the employer, so it’s important to be sure all the info in your resume is easy to find.  The reader shouldn’t have to strain or work hard to figure out who you are. 
     
    In today’s market employers are expecting to receive a resume that is tailored to the position.  When creating their first NP resume many new graduates get carried away and include too much extraneous information.  Remember, your resume is just a snapshot to show the employer you are a match – not your entire life history.
     
    First, you must make it clear to the reader that you possess the appropriate educational preparation.  Place your educational section at the top of your resume. Make sure you have included your degree and the dates it was earned (or will be earned).   You can safely omit elements like your GPA, thesis, or doctoral project.   This simply adds clutter to your resume without increasing your marketability.  I know you worked hard for your GPA, but it doesn’t belong on your resume. 
     
    Second, clearly indicate your certification.  You will be seen as ineligible for the position if information relating to your certification status is missing. Identify the name your certifying body and note either “current” or the expiration date of your board certification. If you have not yet taken boards note “pending” or your scheduled test date.     Also, be sure you list your RN licenses.  This may seem like a no brainer but it is important that your nursing license(s) be on your resume.
     
    Next is your experience section.   As a new grad your clinical rotations are your most pertinent and relevant experience.  Take a look at the job posting and find the skills the employer has stated are a requirement.  Then make sure you mention those skills in your student experience section.   Avoid statements that reflect minimum entry levels skills.  It’s a waste of space on your resume to say “manage acute and chronic conditions” or “history and physical exam skills”.  That won’t set you apart.  Give the recruiter some real data about procedures, specific conditions and populations.   You should find this data in your clinical logs. 
     
    Finally, take care not to focus on your RN experience.  Employers like to see that you had RN experience but they are not interested in your RN duties.   A simple entry indicating the department where you worked in will be sufficient.   You are applying for an NP job and you are a new NP graduate, however, you are competing against candidates who have NP experience.   To put it bluntly, what you did as an RN will not trump actual NP experience so it’s best not to waste the resume space because it won’t make you more marketable.  If the employer wants to hear more about your RN jobs they will ask you about them in an interview. 
     
    Oh, and a nice cover letter will help you get noticed too. 
     
    I will send you my cover letter and resume guides via email. 
     
    Good luck and keep me posted on your job search. 
     
    ~Renee
     

Monday, February 3, 2014

Employment Contracts and Never Having to Say You Are Sorry

Count contracts among the top things you want to get right, or as close to right, as you can before you sign on the dotted line. 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

You should receive a copy of the employment contract either at the same time the offer is extended to you or shortly thereafter.  NEVER, EVER accept an offer until you have had time to fully review the contract.  In my experience, it is not so much that NPs and PAs regret the items they agreed to in their contracts as much as they lament what they neglected to include. 


A typical contract is 1-2 pages and commonly uses boilerplate language.  It is sort of a one-size-fits-all form where the employer fills in the proposed pay rate, whether employment is full time or part time and a general description of benefits.  Many may also include a non-compete of some sort. 



THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT

Upon receipt and review of the contract you can either 1. accept it, 2. reject it, or 3. negotiate the terms.  Life is easy if you just sign it, which is what the employer is hoping.  And to be honest, quite a few of us feel just a little intimidated and so we close our eyes, hope for the best and comply.  Why? One reason is because we lack the training on employment contracts.  This is especially true for the new graduate NP or PA who has no prior experience in contracting and feels unsure about what is appropriate or how to respond.  It can also be a little intoxicating to receive that first job offer. I often compare it to a marriage proposal in which we are so flattered that we just say “yes” before thinking it fully through.

COUNTER OFFERS

Contracts needn't be “standardized”. It’s your prerogative to negotiate and you can choose to include anything that is important to you.  In addition a wise NP or PA will clarify any points that they find to be murky or lead to possible confusion down the line.  So, rather than just signing as is use the option to add or delete information and send the edited the contract back.  That’s called negotiation.  

*Note – etiquette dictates that you submit a counter offer only once. Employers have little appetite for a prolonged back and forth so you need to carefully think through your response.  In other words, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are countering your counter.  Know your bottom line and leave it at that. 

WHAT TO INCLUDE

Wouldn't it be nice if you had a handy checklist of items so you could more fully evaluate a proposed employment contract?  I want to share with you a reference that is the most comprehensive list for contract negotiation that I have come across.   It is identified as a “sample NP contract” but would work nicely for a PA as well. Click here 

The only thing I disagree with in this sample contract is the term length.  The sample utilizes a term of 5 years.  That’s an awful long time to commit to a new relationship!  I suggest a shorter term of 1-2 years.  Healthcare is changing rapidly and a shorter term gives you the chance to renegotiate sooner.  

If you need more explanation on how healthcare changes can impact your employment please read my article “Contracts:Avoiding the Wrong Regrets”


Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over what your clothing was saying!

Initial impressions are strong and lasting.  It has been said that we will form our opinion of someone within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.  Of course, since we cannot truly begin to “know” another person in only 5 minutes it only stands to reason that our first opinion will be based mostly on what we can readily observe.   

Let’s apply this information to your next job interview.  An interviewer’s first, and most conscious, observation is going to be your attire and grooming.  Both of those factors create a very strong first impression. Unfortunately it is one of life’s little ironies that bad impressions will tend to make a bigger impact and last longer than do good impressions.   

This is why you need to get it right.  If you want to have a successful interview and get hired it is essential that you be remembered for what you had to say rather than for what you were wearing. 

Do not make these 3 mistakes: 
  1. 2001 is calling and wants their outfit back.  You really should update your interview wardrobe more often that you vote in a presidential election.  Yes, even the “classic” looks change over time.  Have you been holding on to an old suit because you think it will come back in style? Oh it will, but those sneaky designers will change it just enough that everything you saved will now look old rather than retro cool. 
  2. It’s never a good idea to look too trendy during your interview either.  Here is another tip – if you look in the mirror and think “oh, that’s really cute!” then don’t wear it.  Adults shouldn’t look “cute”. When you interview you want to appear to be professional not juvenile.  Stay away from loud colors, flashy shoes, plunging necklines and pretty much anything else that could do double duty on a Saturday night at your favorite nightclub.   
  3. Remember, it’s an interview and not a date.  Keep your jewelry simple, skip the perfume and tone down your makeup.  I recently interviewed a perfectly nicely dressed and otherwise very mature candidate, that is, except for the white sparkly eye shadow she was wearing.  I couldn’t stop looking at it!  What was she thinking? Well, I know what I was thinking – here is somebody with poor judgment

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stress is Contagious all Year Round


Have you heard about “secondhand stress”?  Turns out that stress may be transmitted from one person to another as easily as germs.  Dr. Amit Sood, who is an expert on stress at the Mayo Clinic, recently told the Star Tribune that “Stress travels in social networks,” and “It is highly, highly contagious.”

No surprise to any of us who have experienced stress in the workplace.  All it takes is one chronically anxious or irritable co-worker to start the wheels in motion and next thing you know the whole atmosphere at work has become toxic.  Early symptoms include decreased productivity, lack of morale and general mistrust.  Eventually, if not treated will result in chaos, back-stabbing and rapid staff turnover. 

No one wants to work in a toxic workplace.  The problem is that like many disorders, the condition is not always apparent to the casual observer.  And some organizations have become quite skilled in hiding their dysfunction. 

Since there is no known vaccine to prevent secondhand stress the best defense is primary prevention. In other words, you should avoid contact with the afflicted. 

If you are searching for a new Nurse Practitioner job,
the following suggestions will help you identify a potentially troubled workplace so that you do not fall victim to secondhand stress.     

Ask questions  

What happened to the person who was in the job before?  Why did they leave?  If your interviewer is hesitant or stumbles over their answer this could signal a problem.  Be especially alert for signs that the previous employee left suddenly or unexpectedly for reasons other than personal illness. 

Are there any other new staff?  If there seems to be an awful lot of new employees it could mean the organization or clinic has recently had a mass exodus.  If that is the case then you need to know why all those folks left.  

How long has the clinic manager been in their position? If there is new management, it could mean the organization is currently undergoing big changes and staff is still adjusting.  Some changes might be good ones, but change is still stressful.   

How long has the position been open?  Some jobs are open a long time for a perfectly good reason, but it could also mean no one wants the job. 

Do some cyber-snooping

Google the organization.  Many healthcare websites have ratings and allow comments.  Disgruntled patients can be a sign of an unhealthy environment.  Facebook and twitter might also give you a snapshot of what employees and patients are saying about the hospital or clinic.  Granted there will always be a one or two complainers but if you see a pattern then you should start to wonder what is going on. 

See for yourself

If you still have that nagging feeling that something doesn’t seem quite right you might consider asking for a “Shadow day”.  It’s easy for an employer to put on a good face or talk a good game during an interview.   Spending a half or whole day shadowing is a great way to get a feel for an organization.  Stress is hard to hide.  According to the article, the source of the stress can be compared to a vibrating tuning fork that causes everything close to it to vibrate as well.  Trust me, it won’t take you long to pick up on vibrations. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nurse Practitioners: Have you Branded Yourself?


Nurse Practitioners specialize in a number of areas from Acute Care, Family, Adult, Oncology and Woman’s Care just to name a few. Because of these highly specialized required skills set employers can have trouble finding top talent to fill their positions through traditional job postings. That means corporate healthcare recruiters turn to recruitment agencies and social media for help source the right candidates. Nurse Practitioners should take this opportunity to brand themselves on their social platforms because recruiters are looking to the web in places like Google Plus, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs and other online platforms to find the best talent!  

What do I mean by branding? Branding is simply a way to promote yourself much like the way Pepsi brands and promotes their products. Personal Branding is a way to showcase your unique abilities and skills as a professional nurse practitioner. Check out Dan Schawbel’s PersonalBranding Blog. He’s an expert on building personal brands and has incredibly useful information to help you brand yourself. I also recommend using the platform Brand Yourself. The Brand Yourself website is free and will help you clean up your online identity with the goal of your name and brand rising to the top of recruiters’ organic searches for “Nurse Practitioners”.
Once you have established your personal brand and identity it’s time to update your social media profiles to host the same information. Keeping your message clear and consistent will help your profiles rise to the top of Google searches and will nicely package your online personal brand. Carefully select which social media profiles you wish to be professional. Starting with LinkedIn is always best and then make decisions as to whether you want to add Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and blogs. When settling up your profile information make sure key information like your name (first and last) and title are public. The information that is public is the information searchable by recruiters.

After your brand has been establish and your profiles are updated you can begin to network. Start with linking in to like professionals, past professors and any professional connections you’ve made through your work and schooling. Participate in LinkedIn groups and Twitter conversations. Seek out companies you wish to work for and their human resources recruiters and/or hiring managers and make connections. Just like in the “old” days networking has been very effective in helping people find and gain employment. In today’s world both traditional and social media networking is important in building those relationships and will help you stand apart from the rest of the competition.

As a professional healthcare recruiter I see firsthand how online branding can increase the chances of top talent being found. So go forth and take ownership of your personal brand today!

Guest Blogger:My name is Bonnie Ungaro. I am a corporate healthcare recruiter for Centegra Health System. We are a fast growing healthcare system in McHenry County Illinois (A northwest suburb of Chicago). Currently we are seeking multiple Nurse Practitioners to fill our newly created Acute Care positions.. We are also seeking Nurse Practitioners to support our physician practices in local nursing homes.
If you’re interested in this opportunity we would love to hear from you!!  To learn more about our positions I invite you to check out our Careers page here.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Acute Care Nurse Practitioner positions please contact me at: bungaro@centegra.com

Thursday, June 6, 2013

5 Steps for an Effective New Grad NP Job Search

Hello New Grads! 

Abe Lincoln once advised "If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 7 sharpening my axe". 


Don't get worried, I don't actually want you to chop anything down! My point is that I want you to be well prepared before you begin your NP job search

In my last column for Advance for NPs & PAs I outlined 5 essential steps to include in your job search plan.  


In my column you will find advice on
  • Applying too soon (yes, you can apply too soon) 
  • Finding and choosing the proper references
  • How to sell yourself and your skills 
  • Handling the dreaded "strength and weakness" interview question. 
Click here to read more 



Thursday, May 9, 2013

Successful Job Searching after 60


Many of my posts are aimed at the New Graduate NP or PA but recently I had a question from a reader who was concerned about finding a new job after 60. 

Dear Career Coach: I am wondering if you have any thoughts or advice about finding a job after age 60. I have been in practice for about 18 years. I am finding it rather scary to quit my job because I am worried about whether I will really be able to get another job. What do you think?

Dear Mature Job Seeker: Employers are looking for two main characteristics when they hire an employee. The first characteristic is your skills and expertise. After 18 years in practice I think we can safely say you should have no problem meeting that standard. But having experience isn't enough, because the second thing most employers are looking for is employees who will stay with them for the long term. We all know that technically (and legally) an employer is not allowed to factor your age into their hiring decision, but I think we would both be kidding ourselves if we think that an employer is eager to hire someone who is within shouting distance of their retirement. The truth of the matter is that hiring a clinician is expensive and time consuming, and employers don't want to have to go through the hiring process every couple of years - especially during tough economic times.

One option you may want to consider is doing a temporary or locum tenens assignment. You might find that short-term assignments are a nice fit with where you are in your career journey. This is the one setting where long-term commitments are not required or expected. Assignments can range anywhere from a few weeks to a year in length. When I was recruiting I filled many of my temp positions with "mature" clinicians who liked to work temp positions because they enjoyed the freedom and the variety. And did I mention the pay? Temp jobs usually pay very well. If you are willing to travel the opportunities are even greater.

Teaching is another idea you might want to entertain. Many colleges and universities employ folks in our profession in an "adjunct" type position to work with nursing or other healthcare students. They may have a need for teaching or assisting with specific courses or for supervising the students in their clinical rotations.

Above all, no matter what your age, I never advise that you quit your current job until you have a new job secured

Click here to read my original post and comments. 
Seems I stirred up a bit of controversy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Grad Class of 2013 - this blog is for YOU

Graduation is exciting but also a little stressful. New grads (or maybe I should call them "soon-to-be-grads") spend almost as much of their last semester worrying about getting their first job as they do studying.

Well, I personally have never seen any value to worry. It's far better to spend your time preparing instead of worrying.  And luckily for new grads there is some good advice out there. 

Advance for NPs and PAs puts out a great "Guide for NP & PA New Grads" every year and it is chock full of both practical and valuable advice.

This year 2013 the guide has gone digital and you will find 4 extremely helpful articles. 

The first (which just happens to be written by me!) is Salary Tips for the New Grad.  I discuss realistic salary expectations as well as the proper time to negotiate.  You might be surprised at what I have to say.  Read more

There is also a nice article on Building a Better Resume. This piece includes some nice tips on social media, keywords and paper resumes.  As your trusted NP Career Coach I can say without reservation that the advice is spot on and will help you be more successful in landing that job interview.  

Speaking of interviews, did you know that the new trend is to do your interview via Skype?  Check out the handy tips in Get Psyched to Skype.  You will be glad you did. 

And finally, read Networking Know-How and find out how to make the most out of your networking.

Access the entire guide HERE 


HAPPY GRADUATION CLASS OF 2013!
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More reasons to hate on the term "mid-level" - as if there weren't enough already...

As many of you know I do not particularly care for the term "mid-level" practitioner.  Just in case you aren't familiar with my opinions on the subject you can read one of my posts from May 2012 in which I give numersous reasons to shun the term.  (if you agree please share!)

Now, as if there weren't already enough reasons to dislike that label I have found yet another - and it is a doozy. 

I came across a link to what is actually a very handy grid from which outlines the DEA authorization to prescribe controlled substances in each state. It is a state by state guide to which schedules we are allowed to prescribe.  This is actually quite a helpful resource if you are considering a move to another state or perhaps thinking of doing a NP or PA travel or locum tenens assignment. 

The guide starts out with the official definition of a "mid-level" provider. 

Pursuant to Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1300.01(b28), the term mid-level practitioner means an individual practitioner, other than a physician, dentist, veterinarian, or podiatrist, who is licensed, registered, or otherwise permitted by the United States or the jurisdiction in which he/she practices, to dispense a controlled substance in the course of professional practice. Examples of mid-level practitioners include, but are not limited to, health care providers such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants who are authorized to dispense controlled substances by the state in which they practice.


OK, I don't like this definition but I can live with it, at least for now.  But then I kept reading and I see that also included in this mid-level category is "animal shelters" and "euthanasia technicians".  WTF?

This is still a helpful guide but it really is hard to look past this.  Who can we complain to? 

You really must see it for yourself.  Click here

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Not sure? Shadowing might be the solution.

Have you received a job offer but you just aren't sure if you are ready to accept?

You may have left the interview feeling a little rushed, and that your questions were not fully answered. This is not unusual.

Receiving an NP or PA job offer is a bit like receiving a marriage proposal. It's very flattering to know that you are wanted. But sometimes you can find yourself so overwhelmed by the notion that someone truly desires you that you don't consider whether or not the feeling is mutual.

Starting a new job is not unlike a marriage, it is big commitment and shouldn't be left to one's emotions, because once done, it's not easy to undo. It's one of life's little ironies (or jokes) that getting out of a bad relationship can be much more complicated than entering into one.  (We will leave the topic of how to gracefully "divorce" a job for another blog!)

So for those of you entertaining an offer but still feeling unsure I recommend you consider a longer engagement. Before you think I have completely gone off the rails let me explain.

Ask for a "shadow" day. This has become more and more common in recent years. Requesting to spend a shift or two with one of their current providers, "shadowing" is a good way for both parties to get to know each other better.

As a clinician, you will get a clearer idea of not only the job duties and patient flow but also the personality of the practice. Remember, an interview lasts usually no more than an hour and everyone is on their best behavior. It's a little harder to hide dysfunction for an entire day. If there is an undercurrent of tension or disorganization you are going to pick up on it.

So what's in it for the employer? A good fit, that's what employers get out of the shadow. Employers are just as eager to find an employee who fits in with their practice culture as you are to find a practice that fits you. A happy employee is a long term employee. As I have said many times before, clinicians rarely leave jobs where they are happy even if they can make better money elsewhere. Great pay and benefits aren't enough for happiness.

Now that I think about it, that is the case for many marriages as well...

From a blog originally published on Advance for NPs and PAs

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pick me! Pick me! How can you get a recruiters attention?

A reader recently asked me why employers choose one nurse pracitioner application over another. 

I offered up this advice in my latest blog: Advanceweb.http://community.advanceweb.com/blogs/np_6/archive/2013/02/06/applications-and-interest.aspx 

Dear NP Career Coach: What can I do to get employers to notice my application? I would like to know if there is anything you can recommend that will increase my chances of landing an interview. Can you help?

Dear Job Seeker: Obviously it is important that your resume show the employer that you possess the right qualification and skills for the job. However, you also need to convince them that you have a genuine interest and a strong desire for the position.

Employers tell me that if you are able to clearly articulate the reason you are applying for the position then they will be more likely to want to interview you. So how do you demonstrate to a potential employer you have a passion for their position? I have a couple tips to help you.
  1. Research the employer. Learning about their culture, mission and history is one way to show an employer you are interested in them. The information you gather will help you to emphasize why you are the right fit for them. And if you get a call or an interview it will also help you to formulate the right questions to ask. Start by checking out their website or Facebook page.
  2. Make clear the reason WHY you want this position and make sure that your reason makes sense. The best tool for you to express your motivating reason is the cover letter. Use your cover letter to explain why you feel drawn to the position. Perhaps you have previously worked with this population or specialty before. Or maybe your reason is that you did a clinical rotation in their organization. If you know someone who is a current employee who has inspired you to apply that is perfectly good reason as well. (Name dropping is allowed!) Just remember that whatever your rationale, it needs to be employer-centered and show clear benefit to the employer. For example, proclaiming that you want the job because the hours or commute better suits your lifestyle is not helpful.
  3. Don't "over-apply" or be a "serial applier." When employers see you submitting several applications for several different positions it makes you look like you either don't know what you want to do or that you are desperate. Neither of those options is very attractive. Think carefully before applying; if you aren't sure why you want the job, then you are unlikely to convince anyone else why you would want it either.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

3 Essential Components of a Successful Nurse Practitioner Resume

Tuesday Tip:

I have preached this for years.  Call it a resume trifecta, the holy trinity or the triple play but every (and I mean EVERY) NP resume must contain these 3 critical pieces of information.  If employers do not find this information - and find it quickly - your resume will never make it past the first round. 

It's a simple formula really

1. Your education
2. Your certification
3. Your skills

Create your resume around these elements. Remember, we review your resume in less than 15 seconds so you must make these 3 bits of data the centerpiece of your resume. Skip the fancy formatting, long winded "objective" statements and just focus on ensuring that this information as easy for us to find as possible.

What to know what to include under each of these 3 headings?
Read my latest blog here

Friday, January 18, 2013

Survey says: 2012 was a Good Year!

The "2012 Advanced Practice Clinician Compensation and Pay Practices Survey Report" a survey conducted by Sullivan, Cotter and Associates indicates that 2012 was a good year to be an NP or PA. 

Key findings include:

NPs and PA job openings: 

  • A 17% increase in the number of Advanced Practice Clinicians positions was reported by 63% of the respondents
     
  • In addition half the respondents plan to increase the number of NPs and PAs in their organizations by 15% during the coming year

NP and PA salaries:

  • 62% indicated that NP and PA salaries increased by an average of 3.9% over the past year.
     
  • At least half revealed they are planning salary increases of an average of 3.1% in 2013 for their Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants.

Reasons cited for the trends:
  • Team based care driving the demand for more NPs and PAs
  • MD shortage
  • Recent national trends to ensure all medical professions can work at the top of their practice level and training.
While this is only one study it does confirm that the market is moving in a positive direction.  This doesn't mean we can relax just yet though, my contacts tell me that open positions are still attracting large numbers of applicants. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Salary updates

This time of year always bring a new batch of PA and NP salary survey information.  I like to review the various surveys to compare if they match up with the trends I observe.  Sometimes they do, and sometime they don't . 

As always, a few words of caution about salary surveys.  First, they keep in mind the participants are self-selected which may skew the results.  In my experience those doing well are more eager to fill out salary surveys while those experiencing less favorable compensation tend not to want to talk as much.

In a volatile or rapidly changing employment landscape a salary survey can often lag behind current trends.  This has been especially true for PA and NP jobs over the last previous years, however, this past year has seen some increasing stabilization which make recent surveys more reliable. 

Here is a quick summary of the most recent salary survey from Clinical Advisor along with my comments:

For an NP in family practice the yearly pay averages in the mid 80K range  Womens health and pediatric NPs come in about 10K lower.  Specialties, such as geriatrics or heme/onc will bring in a yearly salary in the 90K bracket. 

My take: This is not a surprise to any of us in the recruiting biz.  For those certified in womens health and peds wages and jobs have been in decline for years. What this survey doesn't say is how the respondents for these categories are certified.  An FNP working in these areas will earn more than those certified as peds or WH.

PAs earn about 10K more a year than NPs. The exception is in family practice where they come out only slightly ahead of NPs in pay.

My take: The other categories listed are specialty practice areas.  No surprise they earn more. Specialty practices bring in more revenue so it logically follows that they will pay more too. PAs also still dominate in specialty practices.  They tend to be more open to specializing than NPs although that is beginning to change too. 

The survey also compares experience.  In both categories experience brings more pay but for PAs the increase continues over their careers while the earnings of NPs level off after 5 years. 

If you want to check out the entire survey, which includes further breakdowns by geographic region, it can be found here

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NP Career Coach interviewed for Contraceptive Technology Updates

Most people think of January as the season for snow and winter activities, but for your NP Career Coach it's season of the annual Salary Survey.

And with the salary survey comes interviews...

Recently I was interviewed by Contraceptive Technology Updates and asked for my thoughts on how to be best prepared in the event budget cuts result in a decrease in your work hours or find you out looking for a new NP job.

In the article I discuss the value of having a "master resume" ready to go, the importance of flexibility in this market and whether it can benefit you to consider signing on with a recruiter.

Family Planning Salaries Hold Fast - Where will 2012 take Employment Levels?

Click here to read
the entire interview which begins on page 13.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Do you have a passion for Rural healthcare?

I don't often discuss specific job openings but I am going to make an exception for this position.

How do jobs make my "short-list" you might wonder?

Because I feel I have a certain trust level with my readers I won't blog about any and every position. I will only promote a PA or NP job if I feel the employer values and respects nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants. This job meets my criteria due to the high level of independance their NP and PA providers enjoy.

Another plus is this NP/PA job is in my home state of Minnesota - actually small town Minnesota to be exact.

Here are the details:

This position is a true family practice position in a rural satellite clinic providing care for all ages across the lifespan.

Hours are Monday - Friday, 9a-5p.
There is occasional Saturday morning (8-noon) coverage in a neighboring clinic required which is rotated among 6 (yes I said 6!) other advanced practice clinicians.

Other responsiblities include "PRN back-up" for call in nearby Critical Access ER.

Back-up call and Saturday clinic coverage does pay additional compensation on top of the base salary.

Speaking of salary...
Salary range is $75-$95K depending on experience.
Position includes Medical Benefits, 401K, plus CEU/licensure reimbursement. Relocation assistance is negotiable.

They will also consider NEW GRADS! How cool is that?

Now excuse me for a minute while I brag about my home state. I'd like to remind everyone that Minnesota has alot to offer and this clinic location has something for everyone. I'm talking about easy access to the best fishing and camping in the state for you nature enthusiasts as well as theatres and large shopping centers for you city folk. (FYI - Minnesota DID invent the shopping mall) And when you want/need to come to the big city Minneapolis-St Paul is less than 2 hours away.

This is a rare opportunity to provide true family practice services with maximum independence in a rural setting that values nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

If you would like to hear more call Katy at 800-856-6385. ext. 2113.

Be sure to tell her the NP Career Coach sent you!


Monday, August 1, 2011

To err is human...but a second chance needs to be earned

Do you have a negative in your history? By negative I mean a dismissal, misconduct or a disciplinary action by your board. Personal negatives include criminal charges, DUI's or a history of substance abuse.

All is not lost.

If you are a nurse practitioner or physician assistant and you have one of the above issues and you are struggling with how to frame a past transgression in your NP or PA resume I have some advice for you.

My latest column in Advance for NPs & PAs outlines some strategies for dealing with negatives in your professional background. I discuss when and how to bring up your past problems as well as what steps you must take to convince an employer to take a chance on you.

Click here to read my advice

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Attention: Dallas-Fort Worth area NPs!

I haven't done this before but judging by the number of emails I get from NPs who are looking for work I thought I might post a job opening.

I just spoke with an employer who is hiring for an innovative and intriguing nurse practitioner job in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in Texas. Reliant Health House Calls is looking for several NPs to join their team seeing patients in their homes. This is a FULL-TIME opportunity with benefits. They are also willing to hire NEW GRADS.

Salary: $80,000 - 106,000

If you want to learn more contact G.S. Reddy at 817-808-3443 or gsreddy99@gmail.com

Be sure to tell them I sent you!
Renee

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Returning to the Workforce

Dear Career Coach: I am a NP seeking to return to the workforce after a 10 year employment gap. I have experience as an adult nurse practitioner Occupational Health, Cardio-thoracic, Primary Care, and Student Health. I recently completed 150 CEU's including 75 in pharmacy and passed the certification test for Adult NP in preparation for my NP job search.
Should I include this information in my resume and cover letter? How do I handle the lapse in my professional career? I have 3 kids and we moved several times. I was active with volunteer activities and held several leadership positions. Do employers really want to see this information in my resume?

Dear Reader: This information needs to be included in both your resume and your cover letter. I suggest you start your resume off with a "Summary of Qualifications" section, this will allow you to highlight your qualifications and future plans.

EXAMPLE:
"A nurse practitioner with a wide variety of experience with an emphasis in (list your specialties) Recently completed a total of 150 CEU's including 75 in pharmacology and have used this knowledge to successfully pass the certification test for Adult Nurse Practitioner. Passionate to resume hands on patient care. Possess the energy and flexibility of a new graduate plus a wealth of past knowledge which will benefit both my patients and my future employer."

Next on your resume list your experience starting first with your recent CEU's that are pertinent to the job you are seeking. Highlight your proficiencies for each past job and communicate that you are still comfortable with those skills.

You also MUST write a cover letter. You can use your cover letter to discuss your passion for the position, highlight your proficiencies and emphasize the knowledge you recently acquired in your CEU courses. It's also a good idea to mention your desire for a long-term employer. In the last paragraph, before your closing, you can then disclose and explain your employment gap.

Remember always to edit and tailor your resume and cover letter to match each and every position you apply for!

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Can't we all just get along?

They say nursing "eats it's own". I had this recurring fantasy that when I became an NP that something would change, unfortunately this hasn't been the case for me or many other Advanced Practice Nurses.


I have been receiving several letters lately from APRN's all over the country expressing their frustration with their RN peers. They recount stories of the RN's behaving like "tyrants" towards them. They accuse them of nitpicking, refusing to help and generally making the NP's work life miserable. In some cases they tell me, RN's are even assigned to supervise the NP's. (This is a situation that seems wildly inappropriate at best, and downright dangerous at it's worst.) The nurse practitioners attribute the RN's behavior to "professional jealousy".


Now I know there are 2 sides to every story and I am sure the nurses have their tale to tell as well. But unfortunately I too have observed and experienced some of this behavior firsthand. A few years ago I was working an assignment in which the RN's refused to do vitals on my patients when they roomed them. Why? "Because you are a nurse" was the response. I shrugged it off because I personally liked these nurses but I must admit it really grated on me professionally.


This is a sad and disappointing side to our profession. When I teach new nursing students it's one of the first things they ask me about in class. What does this say about us? In my years working as a recruiter I can tell you that it's not money that leads many NP"s to search for a new job. Most Nurse Practitioners quit because they are unhappy and frustrated with their current work environment.


I'm throwing this one out to you for discussion. Do you have a story like this to tell? What have you done to resolve the problem? If you are a Physician Assistant does this happen to you as well or is this strictly a "nursing" problem? Leave me a comment.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Cell or Not to Cell

I was shopping today and as I was turned the corner into the soap aisle a young man was just ending a cell phone call. I heard him say a few stern words into his cell phone, then he hung up and exclaimed to a woman whom I presumed to be his wife "Can you believe it? They actually called me about a job I applied for while I am at Target!" Considering the job market these days this should have made his day, but no, he was quite indignant that they had interrupted his grocery shopping. Yeah, imagine that. He had given them his cell phone number and they actually had the nerve to call him, unbelievable.
I have long cautioned job hunters to think long and hard before putting their cell phone numbers on their applications or resumes because, well, employers tend to call them.
The great thing about cell phones is that they are portable, and the not-so-great thing about cell phones is that they are portable. If you listed you cell number as your contact number when you applied for an NP job odds are sooner or later a potential employer is going to call you at an inconvenient time (like when you are shopping at Target).
If your cell phone is your only phone then please think before you answer. If you are busy, in loud or bad reception area it's better if you let the call go to voicemail and return it when you are free to talk. You get one chance to make a good impression and you don't want to be deciding "paper or plastic" while taking a call from a potential employer.
Trust me, they won't call back.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lot's of Locums

Now that my first column on Locum Tenens assignments has gone "live" I have been recieving a ton of emails and calls. First, let me say I am pleased so many NP's and PA's are reading what I write! It's nice to know you are out there. It's also nice to see so many clinicians warming up to doing temporary jobs. So far I have heard from folks at both ends of the career spectrum, some are NP's who are just beginning their career while others are looking towards retirement and just looking for something different (but lucrative). All have concerns and questions.

Temp NP or PA jobs definitely take you out of your comfort zone, some see this as exciting and challenging while others might view it as nothing but pure stress. No matter which way you lean I advise you to be sure to get some critical information before you agree to that temporary job assignment.

Be sure you find out the reason that the employer is seeking a locum tenens clinician. Is this a new venture and they prefer to see if things are going to work out before taking on a permanent employee? In our current ecomony this is very reasonable and actually protects you as much as it protects them. If things don't work out for any reason no one will question a short employment entry on your NP resume if the position was a temp assignment. And if it does work out you could have your foot in the door to be hired permanently.

If the reason they are seeking a locum tenens clinicians is due to a a vacancy it is a good idea for you to you find out why the previous provider left. It could be something as simple as a medical leave or something much more serious such as a toxic work environment. Good to know before you commit.

Next week I will talk about ways to ensure that you have adequate physician back-up while you are out on assignment. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 Market "Forecast"

January is the traditional time each year when we look back at the past year and then try to predict what will be the trends for the coming year. Well, this year is no different!
Last month I was interviewed by Jen Ford at ADVANCE for NP/PA's regarding my thoughts on what's in store for NP's and PA's in 2011. She wrote a great article which covers several topics that are of interest to all Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants regardless of whether or not they are job hunting. We discussed the job market, temporary positions, salaries as well as upcoming trends mixed in with a few thoughts for this years new grads.
I highly recommend that you check out the article "A Changing Landscape - The Job Outlook for NP's and PA's. You won't be sorry :-)