Career Questions – What to Ask Yourself When Job Hunting

career advising

On Friday in early May, I was posting a job lead from a local employer seeking graduates from our upcoming June class when a student came in to my office, sat down and worriedly exclaimed, “I need a job!”

It would have been tempting to hand him the job flyer and start prescribing tactics to help him. But when faced with career question, it’s important to make sure your core values and skills align with the career you choose.

I worked with the student and we talked about interests and goals, determined his primary motivators and discussed work-life fit. Then, we proceeded to formulate a larger plan. In the end, he thanked me and left with a better understanding of what drove him when it came to his career.

This is something that anyone can do on their own when assessing their career aspirations. Here are some example questions and the objectives to consider when thinking of your own answers.

What are your core work values?

When considering the answer to this question, evaluate what would bring you the most satisfaction. For example, some students want to obtain positions where they are able to give back to the community. Others want to be in an area which lets them discover new practices. The answer to this question can also help you identify they type of nursing specialty which interests you the most.

In what type of healthcare environment do you see yourself?

Hospitals may be the first work setting that comes to mind for nurses, but there are many other options to consider, such as schools, correctional facilities, government, public health and research. Consider the following factors when choosing the environment right for you.

  • Shifts – What type of hours will you work?
  • Patient population – What demographic will you primarily serve?
  • Career growth – Can you achieve your goals in this environment?
  • Location – Is it easy for you to come and go from work?
  • Team – Will you work in large or small teams? Alone or in tandem with someone else?

What are your career objectives?

Your career objectives are what you want to accomplish in the long term through your professional work. Some students want to be in leadership roles, while others want to work directly with patients and still others want to be educators or work in research.

Your objectives should have a strong connection to your core work values. Your core work values are what are important to you in your job. For example, if you value work-life balance, you’ll want to find a nursing career that can offer that balance.

What are two to three “ideal” jobs in nursing which correlate to these objectives?

After understanding your career objectives, identify at least two or three nursing positions, or even potential career paths, which will give you the opportunity to achieve your objectives.  Some roles will work as stepping stones to help get you to you where you want to be.

What are your current most marketable skills?

Take stock of your transferable skills from previous positions and experiences. Consider skills such as:

  • Speaking a second language
  • Strong customer service skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively verbally
  • Specific skills developed in clinical sites
  • Being a successful member of a team

What is the skill gap between your current skills and your ideal position?

There may be a gap in your current skills/abilities and your desired position. Identify what those skills you need to work on by researching various job descriptions for this type of role. For example, if you want to be a senior staff nurse, you’ll want to make sure you have excellent leadership skills.

What actions can you take now to develop these skills?

Next, determine what actions you can take to develop the skills needed for your ideal position. If you’re looking for an entry-level position, here are some of the ways you can develop your nursing skills:

  • Volunteer at a hospital or healthcare organization
  • Get a part time position such as Patient Care Technician
  • Look for opportunities during clinical experiences to build skills
  • Join a student association such as student government or the student nursing association

Start asking yourself these questions today to put yourself on the path to your ideal career. For more information about how to launch your nursing career, reach out to your career services advisor or check out our resources in the Careers section of the blog.

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