My earlier blog post on the shocking lack of professionalism demonstrated by Nurses interviewing for a position with our company seems to have struck a chord. I have had positive feedback from Nurses who feel the same way that I do (thank you), and while I certainly don’t have all the answers, after more than a few years of interviewing all levels of staff for many different positions at our company, I’m happy to share my recommendations. Here is the follow up to my “Where is the Professionalism in Nursing?” blog post

Founder, retired,
Eldercare Home Health Inc.

Lisa Wiseman BScN, RN, GNC(C) President and Registered Nurse

If you’re applying for a nursing position, a cover letter is a  must:

If it’s a nursing career you’re after, write a cover letter, period.  Most Registered Nurse applicants, amazingly, don’t.

As a Registered Nurse your resume is the nuts and bolts of what you have accomplished – education, positions, professional accomplishments etc. Your cover letter is an opportunity to let your personality come through – are you detailed, do you have a sense of humor, are you involved with interesting activities outside the workplace?

Be enthusiastic and positive. Express a point of view (in our case, it should be about nursing, Seniors, caregiving in the community etc. – something that shows commitment and/or insight). Show  that you’ve done your homework – that you’ve visited the company’s  website for example.

Your cover letter is your chance to stand out from all the other applicants – don’t waste it (remember to double check for spelling errors – spellcheck will not always catch everything so ask a friend to review your cover and your resume).

A note about visiting the company’s  website –  do it! I really dislike when someone asks me to describe what we do at Eldercare Home Health when they could easily have taken a couple of minutes to check out our website and found out for themselves. An applicant who has not done their “homework”, who has not taken the initiative, is unlikely to be the right candidate for us.

If you don’t live locally, if the phone number or address on your resume is a long distance one, state that you are planning to re-locate, that you are available as of a certain date, that you can interview via skype as a first step – don’t make it difficult for a prospective employer to figure out how you being out of town is supposed to work for them (this is definitely the kind of thing you should make clear on your cover letter).

Be honest with yourself:

Our job descriptions always make it clear what level of experience we are looking for

If you don’t have the qualifications that would make you an obvious fit for the position you are applying for, yet you really believe that it is the kind of work you were meant to do, say so. Make it clear why you think the person reviewing your resume should take your application seriously.

On the other hand, if you are most comfortable in an office setting are not a confident driver, and do not want a physically demanding job, you really shouldn’t be applying for a Visiting Nurse position.

Be appropriate with everyone at the company you are applying to:

Follow up your resume with a phone call if you haven’t heard from the company after a few days.

Be pleasant with the person who answers the phone – they may be a trusted resource for the person who is doing the hiring-that’s how it works at our office The person you are trying to reach is probably in a key position within the organization and may not be immediately available to speak with you.Don’t get frustrated if it takes a couple of calls to reach them.

The phone interview:

When I receive a resume that looks promising, I conduct a phone interview. It’s an opportunity to clarify details and to get a sense of the person behind the paper. Based on what I discover, I may or may not invite the applicant for a face to face interview.

The phone interview is a key opportunity to move the application process forward.

Contact phone numbers are often cell numbers. That’s okay, but if you receive a call that could be the first step in your successful employment but the call is received while you are at work, in a busy noisy environment, or driving, don’t just say it’s okay. Let the caller know that the opportunity to speak with them is important to you. Offer to call back once you are somewhere quieter.

The phone number on a resume needs to be connected to a voicemail box so that there is an opportunity to leave a message. The e-mail address must be correct – if a message bounces back (and yes that happens too) chances are slim to none that you will ever hear back from that prospective employer.

If you have the opportunity for a “face to face” interview:

(building on part 1 of “Professionalism in nursing”)

  • Be on time (we don’t interview anyone that arrives late and we don’t offer a second chance)
  • Dress in business attire (jeans, t-shirts, running shoes, flouncy skirts, plunging necklines, chipped nail polish…these are not going to help you make a good first impression.)
  • Bring several fresh, clean, crisp copies of your resume.
  • Do not bring a cup of coffee or other beverage, or snack, into the interview. It is a formal interview, not a casual get together with friends.
  • Have your references prepared – you may get asked for them.
  • You need to be “on”. Don’t show up, bleary eyed from a night shift that just ended an hour earlier.
  • Develop a good solid handshake (no limp fish). Use it.
  • Do not be overly familiar. Don’t tell your life story (married early, stayed at home, husband left….) – focus on what is important to the potential employer:  you are a Registered Nurse, talk about your practice experience. The other stuff (the personal stuff) may be important in terms of your needs, but frankly, the details are not really relevant or welcomed by the people interviewing you.
  • Offer up plausible explanations as to why there are gaps in your resume or why you changed positions often. If there have been challenges in your Practice, tell us how you overcame them.
  • Think like an employer; would you hire someone who changed jobs every year due to wanting a new experience or who had negative interactions with someone in each of the last 3 places they worked? How about someone who could not offer a reference?
  • How have you kept up your nursing knowledge and skills (and don’t say through going to work!)? Have you undertaken additional education – have you done something formal like taken courses or attended conferences? Do you read nursing journals or make a point of going to Rounds at your current workplace? Are you planning to become certified in an area of study that’s pertinent (in our case it would need to be related specifically to the care of seniors).
  • Be prepared for questions – such as what interests you, specifically, about the work that the company does?
  • Don’t tell an interviewer, as many have said to us, that you are sure that you can do the kind of work the job requires, if you never have. Or that you just want to do something new.  It’s disrespectful and frankly, ignorant. I don’t look at others who have developed expertise over many years of practice and tell them I could easily do what they do.

So, what makes a successful Registered Nurse Case Manager applicant at Eldercare Home Health?

If you’re applying for a nursing position with Eldercare Home Health you should be a seasoned Registered Nurse (a minimum 5 years’ experience, 10 preferred – working with seniors) who demonstrates knowledge, commitment and passion for the care of older people, who has done their homework when it comes to Eldercare Home Health; who wants to make a difference.

You should be aware that we have been practicing in the community since 1995 and that our team is committed to providing the best in quality care.

A sense of humour is always appreciated.

For more details visit our Registered Nurse job post page

I hope these tips, collected over years of interviewing experience, help you to be successful in your next interview, especially if it’s with us!

Best wishes,

Lisa Wiseman BScN, RN, GNC(C), President of Eldercare Home Health Inc.


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