September 7, 2010

Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 4:39 am by Nursing Tales Team

Whether you are attending a career fair or have set up an appointment for an interview with a top recruiter; you want to know the best way to present yourself from start to finish. Employers expect a good resume and cover letter; but it is what you show them about yourself in person that really counts. Here are 5 of the toughest interview questions and tips on how to answer them eloquently.

1. Why should I hire you?

The answer to this question can come right from your resume. Prepare this answer ahead of time and practice it to perfection. In your resume, you will find a few things (3 to 5 is recommended) that make you an outstanding candidate for the position you seek. Point out specific areas in which you have a proven track record. Answers can be as simple as “I work hard”; but should be backed with a specific instance to prove that statement.

2. What is your biggest weakness?

This is a tough question to answer. You want to be realistic but you also want to keep the focus of your interview on your strengths above all else. For this question, it is best to provide an answer that is honest, followed up with your working plan to correct the weakness. For instance, if you over-commit, your plan will be to set personal and professional limits in order to focus only where it is necessary and productive.

3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

The honest truth to this question may just be “I have no idea”. However, that is certainly not the answer to provide a potential employer. This person wants to uncover your commitment level to your career and to your employer. A simple answer to this question could be “Based on ongoing assessments, I can say that I see myself growing in the career path I have chosen, and I see myself doing that here.” This does not commit you to staying with this particular employer for five years; it is simply your current assessment of your future goals.

4. What salary do you think you deserve?

It is best to avoid talking salary on a first interview. However, if the question comes up, you need to be prepared to answer it. Since you have spent time in school, studying your profession; it is likely that you have an idea of the salary range for your specialty and your area. If you are unsure, do research before beginning the interview process. You never want to throw out a random number; it may be less than what the recruiter had planned to offer. Your answer to this question could be “based on my research, the range for my position goes from $45,000 to $85,000.” If pressed, choose a mid-range number.

5. What did you dislike most about your last job?

This question is fishing at its finest. A question like this seeks for you to show a weakness. So instead of answering in a negative way towards your ex-boss, the hours, the working environment; an answer such as “In my last position, I felt I was not being challenged enough” would show your positive outlook and motivation to reach higher levels.

September 4, 2010

Career Fairs and the Nursing Profession

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 4:36 am by Nursing Tales Team

Career fairs are a common way for nursing homes, hospitals and other healthcare employers to meet and interview hundreds of nurses each year. As a nursing professional, it is wise to investigate nursing fair opportunities both in your local area as well as in areas where you may be interested in a nursing career. To discover specific information regarding nursing in different U.S. cities, one has only to search “Best Cities for Nurses” in any internet search engine.

Before you head off to a nursing career fair, there are necessary preparation steps to take:

  • Update and proof-read your resume before making copies to hand out. Have a colleague or school counselor review your resume as well. Once approved, print on professional quality paper and place them in a folder or envelope to keep them safe and wrinkle-free.
  • Create a separate sheet for references. References can include professors from nursing school, managers from any job held, even if not healthcare related, and nurse preceptors or mentors.
  • Create a short bio. You have only a short time to make a good first impression at a nursing career fair. Creating a one-minute introduction will keep you on track and present a professional attitude. Your introduction should include your name, major, and type of position you seek. If you have any special skills, certifications or accomplishments, be sure to mention them. If you are a new graduate, speak of your specific goals.
  • Practice your one-minute bio in the mirror or with a friend. Also practice your handshake.
  • Obtain a list of employers who will be attending the fair and research those you think you would like to work for. Having information about a facility will allow your conversation with the recruiter to flow more freely, as you may have specific questions to ask or can present a specific reason why you would like to work for that particular facility.
  • Dress for Success. As you ready for your trip to a Career Fair, it is wise to check event literature for dress code specifics. If there are none, then be sure to choose outfits that are comfortable but not too casual. Even though you may wear scrubs on the job, you need to look your best for any interview. Conservative dress is key.

At the Career Fair, there are more steps:

  • Work through your list. Remember the list of employers for whom you would like to work? This was a step in the preparation process! Once you arrive at the career fair, make your way through your list – backwards. This means that you speak with employers who are at the bottom of your list first, when you are more nervous. Working from bottom to top, you give yourself time to work through nervousness before you get to your most desired employers.
  • Maintain focus. Career fairs are for networking. Even sophomores and juniors still in student mode can begin making essential connections at career fairs; and may come away with an internship in their area of specialty.
  • Move forward. It is important to ask every potential employer what steps come next in the application process. Do you need to apply online? Do you need to call to schedule an interview or will the recruiter be conducting call-backs? Take notes of the answers you receive from each employer so you follow the right steps to gaining the employment you seek.

When you return home from a career fair, review the notes you took from each meeting. Sending a follow up email to recruiters with a resume is appropriate in many cases. Your notes will serve as your guide. Once this step is accomplished, set aside some time to relax and renew.

Upcoming Nursing Career Fairs:

The University of Virginia School of Nursing will be hosting their annual Career Fair on Monday, November 29, 2010. The event will take place at McLeod Hall, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia

Nurse Week Arlington, TX Career Fair will be held on Oct. 5, 2010. This event will take place at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington Texas.

Nursing Spectrum Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Career Fair will be held on Oct. 18, 2010. This career fair will be held at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

August 24, 2010

Time Management in Nursing

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 7:08 am by Nursing Tales Team

Nursing is a demanding career in and of itself. Without effective time management both at work and at home, a nurse can easily become affected by prolonged stress. Because balance is necessary in life, time management is a skill you do not want to hesitate mastering.

Learning to manage your time effectively is highly rewarding. By managing time, you become more effective and less hassled. At the end of the workday, you return home with a little more energy and a better attitude. In the end, time management skills improve your quality if life immensely.

The first order of business in time management is to create orderly workspaces. This goes for work and home. Wherever you perform paperwork, you need space and order. Before you can begin managing your time, you have to have organization in your workspace. Clean off your desk and put everything in a proper place. Install extra file folders if necessary and purge files no longer needed. Once your space is cleaned up and efficient, maintain it by clearing it off at the end of every day.

Now that you have workspaces that are ready to serve you; you can set out to get more done. Not that you are supposed to take on more work. On the contrary, time management will likely include saying “no” more often. But effective time management actually allows you to accomplish more with less anxiety, so you will get more done in a lot less time than usual.

Lists are wonderful things; they help you remember to get everything you need from the grocery store and can also help you get tasks done at work and at home. It is helpful to create a to-do list every day. In fact, creating two lists is ideal – one for home and one for work. On your to-do list, prioritize tasks; putting those you dislike first. Be sure to mark off as many items as possible each day so you don’t become overloaded as the week wears on.

Sometimes as you make out your to-do list you will realize that many items you have written are tasks that you can delegate to someone else. Find out what tasks you can give away to others. Remember, there is no need to try and do everything yourself. This kind of a mindset will bring you nothing but pressure. You have a support system in place to help you. This consists of co-workers, friends and family. Utilize the support system that you have to get more done.

Charting is a big part of a nurse’s routine. In order to stay focused and avoid getting bogged down at the end of your shift, make a habit of charting every few hours. This enables you to chart while issues are still fresh in your mind and reduces a rush when it comes time to go home.

Time for yourself should also be included on your list every single day. This could be at home, during your lunch hour, or on the way to work in the mornings. Whatever time you can capture needs to be spent to rejuvenate and do something you love doing.

July 25, 2010

Great Cities for Nursing Part II

Posted in Nursing Career, Nursing Tips tagged , , , , at 7:25 pm by Nursing Tales Team

Working as a nurse, your career is wide open as far as where you can go and what you can do.  What you do is only part of the equation of your total job satisfaction.  Where you go is another part.   Here are a few more cities where nurses can expand their career and enjoy life outside of work.

In this portion of our list of great cities to work in, we will also mention a few great cities for travelling nurses since that part of the industry is forever growing.

Nashville, TN

Although the average salary, when compared to cities like Boston, is much lower Nashville has a lot to offer those in the nursing profession.  Earning approximately $35,000 – $40,000 annually, a nurse will find that this salary actually fits right in to the overall cost of living in this large city; so financial compensation in relation to expenses works out to be comparable.  When you also factor in the professional growth opportunities this city offers, you can see why it ranks high on the list of best places to work.

As with San Diego, Nashville has an average commute time of less than 30 minutes.  And the city also offers plenty of things to do in your time away from the hospital or office.  In the summer months, Centennial Park can be the place to go for dance lessons and Big Band dances.  At Radnor Lake State Natural Area and Warner Park Nature Center, one can find hiking and biking trails and commune with nature.

Honolulu, HI

For those who love the water and love to enjoy nature, Honolulu can be a slice of heaven on earth.  With an average salary of just over $40,000 annually, a nurse can exist comfortably in the island paradise that is replete with trails and beautiful beaches.

Because nurses are still in high demand in hospitals, clinics and private practice offices throughout the island, job security is not a concern.

For travelling nurses, the job that they perform can change with every new city that is visited.  Travelling nurses can work in a private setting or in a hospital or clinic; and work assignments can range from a few weeks to several months.  This realm of the nursing industry is growing, as more nurses are finding the adventure of travel quite appealing.  Here are some of the most popular cities for travelling nurses.

Boston, MA

Yes, Boston was also on the list of great cities for nurses in general.  Travelling nurses also love Boston because it serves up the vibe of a big city with a more relaxed feel to it.  Additionally, Boston is located in close proximity to places like Martha’s Vineyard and New York; so there is always plenty do on days off.

Salem, OR

Agencies for travelling nurses receive request after request for assignments in the up and coming city of Salem, Oregon.  Replete with farmer’s markets, great scenery and some of the friendliest people around, Salem is welcoming and full of things to do.  For the outdoorsy type, the city is ideal.

Great Cities for Nursing Part I

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 7:21 pm by Nursing Tales Team

Working as a nurse carries with it great benefits as well as challenges.  In terms of salary and availability of work, the field of nursing is still wide open.  Even throughout tough economic times, nurses can find work and receive a significant salary.  Here we will take a look at some of the best cities to work in the nursing industry.  Whether your preference is to work as a private nurse, in a large hospital or in a small town clinic, it isn’t difficult to find a great city to spend at least part of your career.

It is important, when choosing where you want to work in terms of what part of the country or what city, that you look at more than just the salary that you are being offered.  In some places where the salary for a nurse is high, the cost of living is also high.  If you are drawn in simply because of salary it could leave you more strapped financially than you might imagine.  In addition to salary, you also want to look at growth opportunities, living expenses such as rents, food prices and cost of fuel or public transportation.  You also want to take into consideration the overall climate and environment of any city you may be considering.  Here we will take a look at a two great cities.

San Diego, CA

California is the land of sand and sun; surf and turf.  Many people are drawn to the bustling city precisely because of its proximity to the ocean.  With an average salary offering of $45,000 and consistently good weather, San Diego will remain a top spot for nurses for a long time to come.

The average commute time throughout the city is less than 30 minutes; and apartment rentals run from approximately $1,000 – $2,000 per months depending on location.  In some neighborhoods, you can even find single family residence rental for under $2,000.

San Diego offers an abundance of things to do, from the beach to the mountains to nightlife or nature; there is simply something for everyone in this large Southern California city.  On the career front, there are several hospitals and a wide array of clinics and established medical practices. A nurse can find the perfect job and gain valuable learning opportunities.

Boston, MA

On the East side of the United States, Boston provides ample opportunity for nurses to find work and grow in their career.  This large city hosts several premiere medical facilities, such as Beth Israel, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s and Mass. General, US News and World Report’s 2007 fifth best hospital..  These four hospitals listed are just a few of the many wonderful medical facilities available.  Boston is known for having some of the best hospitals in the country.

In Boston, nurses receive some of the nation’s top salaries.  The average nursing salary for this city is $40 an hour, or $85,000 annually.  And the good news about Boston doesn’t stop there.  Think that you can only enjoy beaches on the Southern California or Florida coastlines and you’d be wrong.  Living in Boston, you can take advantage of miles of pristine Atlantic beaches as well as neighboring islands.

In addition to offering a numerous jobs within the city limits, this area also has a large offering of nursing jobs outside of the city.  If you like the thought of living in a suburban area with a slower pace, and working not commuting into the city you can find it in the Boston area.