Publish Date: March 16, 2017
Phyllis Quinlan, Ph.D., RN-BC
Attending the AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo in Boston from April 1-5 is a smart decision if you’re looking to take your career to the next level. The educational offerings are solid and you’ll have networking opportunities unmatched by any other perioperative career venue. In preparation, I want to share some career coaching guidance with you.
1. Build a Strong Resume that Reflects Your Worth
Ensure your full name with credentials appears at the top in the header along with your contact information. The correct formatting is, name (middle initial optional), highest academic credential, RN, certification. For example, Mary A. Smith, MSN, RN, CNOR. A summary or statement of intent is no longer advised.
Your first section should be Academic Education. Start with your highest degree. If you’re still in school, it’s acceptable to note the date you started and an anticipated date of graduation. Next list your Professional Experience, Certifications & Memberships and Continuing Education & Computer Skills. End with Honors/Awards & Achievements.
If you find a job posting on the AORN Career Center site or other site, read it carefully and make sure that important phrases contained in that job posting language are also contained somewhere in your resume. This will increase the likelihood that the computer will recognize the language and select your resume, over others, for the recruiter to read.
2. Develop an Elevator Pitch
Once your resume is pulled, it is likely that you’ll get a screening call from a recruiter. This could be a make or break conversation. A successful screening conversation is the gateway to an actual interview. When the recruiter asks, “why did you apply for this position?” or “tell me about yourself?” you must be ready to share a ninety-second clear, passionate, and compelling answer that communicates you’re a serious candidate.
Take your time to form the exact four to five sentences that make your point. It may take an hour’s worth of revisions to get this just right but the return on your investment could be huge. You want to sound prepared but not rehearsed in your delivery. You may use your elevator pitch more frequently than expected. It’s always professional and polished to have it ready when networking and speaking with colleagues or vendors.
3. Invest in Your Own Resilience
Nurses downplay the need to take care of themselves so they can take care of others. Caring comes so naturally that we often forget that we cannot render quality, safe care when we’re physically tired or energetically depleted. Ensuring that we take good care of ourselves is actually quite generous. Building resilience allows us to stay fresh and available so we can deliver a consistent caring product every day.
Here are two suggestions for keeping your resilience well full. Incorporate some silent, still time into your life. Nurses are professional doers and always on the go. That may mean you take a walk and just experience the outdoors. It could mean that you discover meditation or yoga. There’s peace in stillness and we can all use a break from the endless noise of our thoughts.
Allow yourself to be cared for by others. Nurses are always giving and the only way to balance that is to allow yourself to receive. Lose the need for control and perfection by finding a way to delegate more at work and at home. Resist the urge to host every holiday and enjoy being a guest. Both of these practices will be hard at first but stick with it and notice the change in your energy level and yourself.
It’s been my honor to be the career coach for AORN since 2012. Each year at the conference, I have the opportunity to meet some AORN members for the first time and reconnect with members from past events. The most common question I’ve been asked over the years is, “so what is coaching all about?” This brings me to my final piece of career advice – career and personal coaching.
4. Consider Career and Personal Coaching
Career coaching is a great way to get individualized guidance and assistance with establishing your professional goals, making career choices, creating an academic roadmap, polishing interview techniques, and becoming skilled in marketing yourself. It often involves reviewing and revising resumes and learning how to increase your chances of getting your resume into the right hands once it’s uploaded to an organization’s career page. Sharpening your social media skills on sites such as LinkedIn is often useful as well.
Personal coaching is the process of supporting personal growth in a nonjudgmental manner. It can be challenging to remain clear and authentic about your goals and yourself as you try to navigate your life. Responsibilities, set-backs, and the demands of an adult life can overshadow your understanding of the present and cloud your vision for the future. Our human nature creates blind spots to options and solutions. Coaching provides vital support as one explores behaviors and attitudes that can short-circuit success in life and career.
I hope that you’re planning to attend this year’s conference in Boston. If you do, I’ll be offering complimentary one-on-one career coaching sessions. Sign-up in advance, and don’t forget to bring your resume.