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No Experience

The old ‘catch-22’ – you need a job to get experience, but you need the experience to get a job! 

You are browsing the job ads, a job you want shows up but you don’t have the experience. Damn. But if I know you, you are brave and bold enough to send in your cover later and your resume anyway. 

BUT, how do you get a job with no work experience? Settle in, I’ll tell you.

All hope is not lost. There are 3 key areas which you can improve on to help cover this issue. Each building on the other to help you get passed each career-based hurdle.

  • Your cover letter
  • Your resume
  • Your interview

Check out the checklists and response options below and make sure you sign up for our video series for additional information to get you primed for your job application.

The importance of cover letters cannot be overstated.

Tick off this checklist when completing your next cover letter to make sure you include it all:

1. Carefully review the job posting and research the company’s website.

2. List your contact information at the top of the document. 

3. Greet the reader and introduce yourself.  

4. Explain your skills and achievements relevant to the position.        

5. Remind them why you’re best for the position. 

6. Ask them for an interview.  

7. Conclude your letter forward-facing. 

8. Proofread for spelling, grammar and clarity issues. 

9. Save the document as a PDF and send it in with your resume, keep reading for how to nail that.

The low down on resumes:

Try this checklist when looking at your resume to make it more appealing for the interview:

1. Include a summary statement

2. Pay attention to the hard skills you do have 

3. Take stock of your achievements and activities

4. Focus on your education and skills

5. Internships, internships, internships

6. Include any extracurricular activities or volunteer work

7. Never include these certain elements: address, DOB. For more details sign up for our online education session. 

8. Keywords, keywords, keywords

9. Add a cover letter

10. Customise your resume for each job you apply for.

The info about interviews: 

Try one of these 2 responses:

· The similar experience response- show how your previous experience can be translated into their desired experience.

· The no experience ‘show your understanding of the experience and what skills would be required and how you meet them’ response. Include that you are a quick learner and are very eager. Discuss what education you have looked into completing to help bring you up to speed quickly. Show your interest.

Also, do this:

The managers and the panel you meet will look for the following (in amongst other things) so prepare an answer for:

· Your elevator pitch (the ‘tell us about yourself’ question)

· How well you understand the realities of a job you have never done

· Relevant skills applied in other contexts that could help you be successful in this job

· Enthusiasm for the work and a willingness to take the rough with the smooth that comes with every job.

Bring everything from your cover letter and resume to the interview. Repeat things used there. Don’t reinvent the wheel for every interview. 

So you have a great starting point here but do you want to go deeper?  

Well, click here for a link to our online education session with a free workbook. The session builds on the information above and takes you that step further. 

While I have you, why not join our Handover email list here so you can be notified of our new releases as they happen. We have some exciting things coming and you don’t want to miss this. Click here to sign up (www.autonomic.com.au

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The REALLY underutilised secret to finding your niche.

The underutilised secret to finding your niche. Drum Roll…..

A nurse mentor!

When done properly a nurse mentor can be life and career-changing. This is especially true of new nurses as a mentor can be invaluable for their education and their preparation as a nurse in the real world (outside uni and pracs).  A nurse mentorship can be formal via your hospital or informal.  

Nurse mentorships aren’t overly common in Australia but they should be.  If there is none offered in your work what then? I am setting you a challenge.  Find someone who you want to be your mentor and ask them!  This shows you are forward-thinking and the person will be incredibly flattered. Yes, it can be nerve-racking BUT is that one moment of nerves not an amazing pay off for the many benefits which can come from a mentor? Yes, it is. 

What is a nurse mentor?

 A nurse mentor is an experienced nurse who volunteers to serve as a role model, advocate and motivator to help new nurses settle into their careers. Mentors serve to provide formal and informal training, support and counselling to new nurses within safe environments, in and out of clinical settings. This relationship can last from months to years depending on how much each party wants from it. 

What does a nurse mentor do?

After completing all your academic work and practical placements, nurses begin their journey into nursing. Once you are in the real-world health care workplace, you may be struck by the pressures and intensity of the nursing profession. This is where nurse mentors are needed to provide guidance and share their clinical experiences to help new nurses gain confidence in their roles.

Who can use a mentor?

Anyone! At any stage of your career really. Mentorships have been found to be a really successful way to achieve professional growth and personal development of new grad nurses but also other nurses who are transitioning into new roles. If you are a nurse you should consider getting yourself a mentor. 

So what makes a good mentor?

Here are 8 key points that help to foster an effective mentorship.

  1. Commitment

Mentoring is an ongoing active process. A mentor needs to be willing to invest time and energy in a one-on-one relationship.

If you make a commitment to do it, you must fully commit to it, please. It is not fair for either party if you start letting it taper off. Think of it as a contribution to advancing the future of nursing. 

If we really want to retain good nurses we need to all be giving back when we can and supporting other nurses. 

It is a real privilege to be a mentor- you get to watch someone new grow in their career and in their personal achievements. Amazing!

  1. Supportive

A mentor’s role is primarily to support and encourage other nurses to manage their own learning in order to develop their skills.

Mentors need to be approachable, reasonable and competent nurses themselves. They need to be committed to helping mentees achieve the success of which they are capable of. A good mentor not only strengthens the mentee as a nurse but also as a person as well.

  1. Role Model

The mentor is the guide, expert and role model who helps develop a new or less experienced mentee. Mentors need to use experience and insights that helped them to help others. The mentor needs to be walking their talk. They should role model the desired behaviours of a successful nurse. 

  1. Realistic expectations

It is vital that mentors and mentees have realistic expectations of their joint goals. Set limits for how often to meet and what needs to happen at each meeting. When I say meeting I mean coffee in the cafeteria, this doesn’t have to be formal and stuffy! Patience, honesty and collaboration with each other will help foster stronger relationships.

  1. The right fit

Mentoring is an ongoing relationship between a mentor and mentee for as long as both find meaning and value in it. It is really important that you click with the person. Trust your gut, don’t pick someone who you know isn’t right for you but think they will help you get where you want. If it’s not working once you start, then cut your losses sooner rather than later. 

  1. Appropriate mentor

It is crucial that the mentor knows what it is like to be in the position of the mentee. They should know the role and therefore be able to guide you with insider info. They can help you by sharing their personal pitfalls and experiences.

  1. Positivity

Ideally, a mentor should be someone who is passionate about their career and passionate about sharing knowledge. You really need someone who is positive and enthusiastic. They should have the right motivation for being a mentor. It shouldn’t be something for their CV only. Look for genuine interest in both parties. 

  1. Know your own limitations

It’s important to be willing to know your limits as a mentor. Admit when you don’t know something and work together to find out the answer. This is great role modelling and shows how to work within your scope of practice.

Action point:

  • Think about if getting a mentor may be the right thing for you. If it is then JUMP IN! Ask someone and let me know it turns out.

Email me at beth@autonomic.com.au if you have any questions or hit me up on the socials. 

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5 ways to stop doubting yourself

So this week I want you to think on the following quote:

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

This week we want you to focus on not doing passive but doing passion! 

Being passionate isn’t about being consumed by work alone and losing sight of life outside it. Being passionate isn’t being exhausted by being ‘on’ all the time.  Passion to me is being engaged, intentional and conscious about your work.  It is about knowing your worth and not doubting yourself about what you can do and the type of work you deserve. 

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For too long I lived as a self doubter.  And I do not think I am alone with the self doubt self talk. (I am actually a big fan of Melissa Ambrosini, she has a whole book you can read called ‘Mastering your Mean Girl’ if you want to go deeper on this negative self talk).

The above quote spoke to me when I saw it recently as it took me back to an old internal battle I used to constantly fight.  About how often at uni and then at work AND also in my out of work life I would know the answer, I knew the correct solution, but I was afraid of speaking up.  I constantly second guessed my actions.  It drove me mad.  I had the knowledge and resources to do so many things at work and outside but I listened to a little voice that kept telling me I didn’t know how or I couldn’t do it. Essentially ‘who was I to speak up’. 

Needless to say, this sort of talk holds us back significantly.  When we lack self assurance we hold ourselves back from progressing.  We don’t speak up when we should as a patient advocate.  We don’t action clinical decisions in case they are wrong.  We let people treat us less than they should just in case we actually ARE in the wrong. But more often we aren’t. 

I am sorry to say that the solution is not simple.  There is no clicking of fingers here and suddenly our insecurities go away.  It is a steady progression of improving but one worth investing in. 

Below I have compiled my top 5 ways to stop doubting yourself.

1.Don’t get stuck on planning out every minute of your day.

Don’t get me wrong I love being organised. I love using day planners. However when we get too caught up in our planning we can get a little bit upset when something doesn’t get done on your previously set out schedule. 

You may fall into the mindset of ‘now one thing has gone wrong, everything will go wrong’ and lose the flow of your day. It can be a slippery slope from there!

 Continue to plan. But also make sure you are adaptable to the day and be realistic.  Things happen!  Life happens!  No matter how much we try to control the day, we have to accept the unpredictability of our roles as nurses. 

2. When you catch yourself wasting time overthinking, just start on the tasks.

Have you ever fought with yourself in the corridor about what to do next. Eating up precious time?  This type of overthinking can really turn your brain to mush! And take up space for critical thinking. Just starting something is more effective than thinking about starting something.  It will all happen or you can always hand it over.  The beauty of nursing is that someone else is coming!  Thinking about urgent tasks (think time specific or patient safety tasks first.)

3.Don’t get stuck in the comparison trap.

Stop looking at how other people from your intake are going. Comparing yourself to others will have self doubt creeping up before you know it. 

A better idea is to only compare yourself to yourself. How have you improved from one month ago? Six months ago? One year ago? Then you will really notice how far you have come. 

4.Sharpen your skills.

If you are doubting your ability in a certain skill then I have one piece of advice. Do that thing until you don’t doubt it. 

Remember that song line ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’? Well do it! 

I used to dread running up a certain hill on my runs. For a while I used to run a different track so I didn’t have to do it. But did that help? No. So I started to include the hill in EVERY run and now I own the hill! 

Keep doing it until you feel confident and competent in completing that task.

5.Celebrate each small step forward and wins.

When you feel like you are doubting yourself and your ability it is time to celebrate the small steps and the small wins.

Stop and note on a regular basis what you have achieved that week. Keep them on a list in your phone so when you doubt yourself look at the list and smile and remember how great you are. This will then recharge your motivation and keep you taking action. Your self doubt will be pushed aside so you can keep getting those wins, big or small. 

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10 signs you are not in the right job

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So you may have noticed that something is off. But you can’t put your finger on it. Or maybe you can, but aren’t ready to make a change. You know that your enthusiasm for your job is waning and it has been a while since you felt excited to get up for work. You clock watch and dream of escaping the ward for anywhere else. 

The above are perhaps signs that it is time, to be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you are in the right role. Being in a role that isn’t suitable for you is depressing. And it can impact not only your work life but your home life. So why are you staying?

If you’re umming and ahhing every day about whether you should stay or go, here are a few signs that may help you in deciding whether this role is indeed the right role for you.

You feel it brings out the worst in you

Do you feel like an imposter? Are you frayed, stressed and anxious? Do you find yourself getting angry at the slightest things? In short, do you feel all out of whack?

Also, take note of any new habits you may have taken up as a way to cope with this unsuitable role. Excessive drinking, smoking, overeating (or under-eating), or any self-destructive patterns need to be addressed immediately.

If you feel the job is indeed changing you for the worst, it is time you find something that will help to bring out your best.

 Your skills feel under-utilised

All those years of training, experience and skills but you’re not putting any of it to use? This is certainly going to leave you feeling down and discouraged especially about your future. This is also about feeling your contribution to the ward isn’t recognised.

You don’t see the role going anywhere

Are there opportunities for advancement in your area? Feeling that you’re in a stuck job isn’t ideal.  But knowing you are is worse.  With no room to grow or manoeuvre, the role can get old very quickly.  Take this as an early sign to begin looking elsewhere for something that provides you with the opportunity for growth.

Also, think about if you want advancement? It is totally fine if you are happy with the level you are. This point applies to people who wish to move into more senior roles. 

You know your heart is elsewhere

Do you spend most of your daydreaming about your ideal job? The more you think about it, the more you realize how unsuitable your current situation is.

It is great of you to work hard in a role which isn’t ideal for you. You never know what crucial experiences you are getting. But you may find you are dreaming of a role somewhere else. Focus on the current experiences that you are gaining in the meantime. 

Trust yourself to know when it is time to jump. 

You feel obligated to stay

This is common. I stayed in a job which wasn’t suited as several other people had resigned and I felt bad leaving too. What advice would you give to someone else you felt this way? Would you encourage them to look after their own needs? Most likely – so start talking to yourself in a way you would to your best friend.  You may also feel you have spent too long investing in improving your skills for the role you are in. It is probably time to think about moving on. 

Be thankful for the opportunities you had on the ward and thank those you have helped you. 

The people who truly value you and your work will respect your decision. 

You’re constantly underperforming

Is the job stressing you out as you feel behind each shift? Like you are chasing your tail? Are people needing to help you or have you been asked to improve with no help offered? Take a minute to step back and think about why you are underperforming in this role? It could be that it’s not you or your abilities but that the role just doesn’t fit your requirements. 

Lack of excitement

Sometimes when you have been in a job for a while the excitement can just fade. Being more engaged and setting goals can help with this lack of enthusiasm. You may enjoy going into work each day but still feel a rumble of being tired, bored or generally unmotivated. This could all be a sign that it is time to stretch your wings. Consider working towards a regrading, or look at secondments or if there is a different area to try. 

You are constantly criticized.

This may not be from your manager. But it could be from your colleagues or maybe even patients and their families. If you don’t ‘feel’ your job and people pick up on this they may start doubting your abilities. If you feel criticised perhaps it’s time to reflect on why and consider the attitude you bring to work.

You are left emotionally drained.

At the end of your shift, you are exhausted. The trip home is a daze. You don’t even play music. You sit in silence. You don’t remember the drive home. You spend the evening on the couch, unengaged with hobbies or with the people you live with. You dread having to do it all again tomorrow. This is not right. 

Your boundaries are not respected

Your manager asks you to constantly work overtime. You are asked to do work that you don’t feel comfortable undertaking. People interrupt you constantly when you are busy. If you feel you are regularly dismissed by other staff then perhaps you need to work on being more vocal about your boundaries or take your skills to a new role. 

If something here resonates with you then check out our previous blog posts on finding your nursing niche to help direct you in the right way.

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The only skill you need to find your nursing niche

Cardiac, emergency, geriatrics, research, remote nursing, oncology, community, mental health, renal……… 

The list is endless. So how do you decide?

Well you only need one skill really and that skill is…. *drum roll*

Self-assessment and reflection!

I have written a list of some questions which you can use to help you self assess and reflect on. So grab a pen and paper and start your journey of discovery. 

What is your personality type and your interests?

Each nursing speciality comes with its own pace and its environment. My advice? Try to find one that fits your personality and personal working style. This will help you to be comfortable and work at your optimum level. Do you thrive on adrenaline? Then perhaps an emergency department might be your place? Do you like details and following protocols? Then research might be for you. Think about your interests outside of work? Do you love playing with kids? Could you use this passion in paediatrics? There are so many nursing specialties. You will be able to find one that allows you to be you and thrive at work, as well as outside of it!

How much do you like to engage with people?

Some nurses (people in general!) are more introverted than others and might want to pick a nursing role that fosters this tendency. You might not want to be patient-facing the entire time or you may not want to meet new patients every day. THAT IS FINE! 

Possible niches include:

  • Research nurse (like me!),
  • Insurance assessment nurse
  • or Telehealth nurse. 

If you are a bit more extroverted and enjoy a faster pace and meeting new people every day think about:

  • Pediatrics Nurse
  • Emergency Nurse
  • Medical-Surgical/Theatre Nurse
  • Critical Care or Intensive Care Unit Nurse

Consider what you desire your ideal workday to look like.

Do you see yourself as a nurse leader? Then maybe look at nursing management roles. Do you want to be in a high-touch role? Or perhaps you want to be away from the bedside? 

Close your eyes now and be honest about where you would like to be. Picture the day, picture the time you wake up, what you do and where you walk into. Walkthrough your perfect workday in your mind now. No one is watching so be honest!

If you see yourself away from the bedside perhaps consider as examples, education roles, care coordinator or an infection control roles. Or if you want a high contact role consider ward-based roles or clinic work. 

What job setting works best for you?

I’m sure you are aware that nurses work in more places than hospitals.  Nurses can also work in schools, public health departments, correctional facilities, industrial sites, research, doctors offices and cosmetic clinics, just to name a few. 

This isn’t to say that a traditional hospital role isn’t for you. Within a hospital setting, there are many different settings for you to consider also. From ICU to delivery rooms to mental health departments. The pace and environments and the interactions you will complete each day vary greatly. 

Do you thrive under pressure or find it stressful?

This question is essential to get you thinking about how much stress can you manage or would like to manage at work.  Do you want to handle being on call? Do you want to handle fast-moving care needs? Perhaps as a surgical nurse on a transplant team? Could long or irregular hours suit you or add stress to the role? 

As you can see the only real skill that you need to be able to change your nursing niche is the skill of self-assessment.

I firmly believe that a willingness to try a new area is far more important than any nursing skill. You can learn skills, you can get your accreditations. Also, remember that skills change throughout a nursing career. 

If you think you need a little more direction to help you love your work then please click here to access our ‘Love Your Work’ course. A punch-packed short email-based course on loving your work through burnout and compassion fatigue prevention, job selection and self-care.  Click here

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How to discover your nursing niche today.

From the days of Florence Nightingale, we have become nurses straight from school and stayed in that area for years. Well, the future is now and you don’t have to be so passive with your career. You can discover and create your own path.

In my experience, many nurses are simply unhappy at work because they aren’t in an area suited to them or their requirements. Don’t let this be you. It’s not nursing, it’s your current role! 

During June we will be looking at nursing niches. What they are. If you need one. How to identify if it is time to find a new niche. What skills you need and how to move them around niches. And finally how you should be doing passion not passive to find your place. 

Did you know that nursing has over 200 sub-specialities? And this list is ever-growing. So WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?

No pressure. But let me tell you a secret. You don’t need to pick it today. It is not easy to decide on a niche to settle in for the long term. And to be honest you don’t really even need to think about the job you will have in 40 years. With your constantly evolving self and also the wild speed of the healthcare landscape. It would be almost silly to think that you will stay in one place for your whole career. 

I am not here to be your career counsellor and give you a list of job options. I am here to teach you how to be your own.

Many people often tell me about what they don’t want. But fewer people can tell me about what they do want. So do yourself a favour and stop right now and have a think about the most important requirements for your ideal job? Close your eyes now and tell me where you picture yourself. I use this little visualisation in my ‘An introduction to finding your nursing niche’ worksheet. Click here to get it straight into your inbox. 

Finding your niche may change your life. You change over your life so why wouldn’t requirements for your job change? I would recommend a yearly (if not more often!) check-in with yourself. Prior to now how have you picked your nursing area?  Tell me do you have a tendency to move towards a goal or away from a problem? Would you say that you are proactive about your career rather than reactive to things that happen to you? 

There are people who are forward-looking, self-motivated and focused on achieving a goal (i.e finding their ideal work environment) and clear about what they want to achieve. They are focused, good at managing their priorities and excited about the future. 

And then there are those who aren’t natural problem solvers. They analyse risks, looking at what should be avoided and what needs to be addressed. They can be distracted from their goal if they have one. 

Have you picked who you are yet?  You may find that you feel a bit column A and a bit column B. Have you decided if one is right or wrong?  

But just hold up and look at the context here. Have a think about a health goal, you may start going to the gym if you don’t like how you look in the mirror, or how you feel in your too-tight jeans. You are problem-solving here. 

While at work your motivation for hard work is that you can learn more and expand your skills to increase your career opportunities. You are forward-looking here. See how there is really no right way to problem solve. Finding the way that suits you to help you find your niche.

If you think you need a little more direction in how to love your work then please click here to access our ‘Love Your Work’ course.  A punch packed short email-based course on loving your work through burnout and compassion fatigue prevention, job selection and self-care.  

Love your work

Beth x