Sometimes when you want something badly…like a job- you have to be extra persistent and creative.
I was a young mother with two pre-school age children. I needed a part-time job and was perusing the ads. A Help Wanted for a hospital switchboard operator caught my eye. It was on the pm shift, from three to eleven. Perfect! My husband worked day shift, and we would not need a babysitter.
Excitedly, I applied for the job and was soon called in to interview with Pat, the manager. I optimistically felt the interview went pretty well, considering that I had no experience, no education, and no required skill sets. I did, however, rely heavily on the Confidence and Personality approach. Pat promised to get back to me “soon”.
Days passed with no word. After one week, I decided to call. I was so nervous that I rehearsed out loud to myself in my living room.
“Hi, this is Beth..” (voice low and well modulated)
“Hello, you may not remember me, but…” (upbeat and energetic)
“HI THERE! 🙂 This is Beth!!” (cheerful and uber confident)
My children looked up at me oddly. Finally I picked up the phone.
“Hi, this is Beth, and I interviewed with you last week for the switchboard operator position. I’m just calling to let you know I’m still interested. My phone number is 555 444 1212 ” <message left to voicemail>
There was no call back. Another week of silence passed. It probably meant she found me a nuisance and I should not call and bug her. I decided to call again.
“Hi, this is Beth, I interviewed for the switchboard operator position. I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to make a decision, I am very interested. My phone number is 555 444 1212.” <message left to voicemail>
Again no response. By now I understood that I was not a candidate, but she would have to tell me that herself. Anyway, what did I have to lose? I called a third time.
This time the phone rang that same afternoon.
“Beth…? This is Pat. I’m calling to say Congratulations! You got the job! When can you start?”
Months later, I summoned up the nerve to ask Pat why she hired me. She laughed out loud “You wore me down!”
I choose to rephrase that by saying that I “kept myself actively on her radar”.
Indirectly, my nursing career began at this point. When I would leave the switchboard to go to the cafeteria for dinner break, I listened raptly to the nurses chatting downtable from me. I understood little to nothing of what they said, but it ignited a passion for nursing. Not long after, I started my nursing pre-requisites (read About Nurse Beth).
Rejected for Nurse Manager
My strategies don’t always land me the job. At least, not immediately.
A few years had passed, and I was now a fairly new nurse, with two years of MedSurg and Orthopedic experience. There was an opening for a Nurse Manager on the Ortho unit. I applied, because I always knew in my heart that I would go into management.
My application went into a black hole and I received no word. Finally one day, I stopped in at the Director of Nursing’s office.
“Hi, Evelyn. Do you have a minute? I just wanted to check on the Nurse Manager job.”
She looked at me blankly.
I tried again.
“The Nurse Manager job. On 2 East. I applied for it two weeks ago.”
She leaned back in her chair and burst out laughing. Laughing at me. “You are nowhere near ready for that, Beth. ” Oh. While she was not kind, she was not wrong.
I was stung, but I recovered and replied, “Oh, I know, Evelyn. Right. I just wanted to let you know that I am interested in management when the time is right.”
A couple of years later, I started my nursing management career at that same hospital. I believe that by applying for the job, I set myself apart. It put me on her radar and she began to look at me as someone with management potential.
Hawaii Here I Come
Yet another time, I was working in the Informatics Department as an Educator. CPOE was just going live across our corporate regional hospitals, and a nurse educator was needed to go to Hawaii for a week, to help one of our sister hospitals. An email was sent out across California, Oregon, and Washington states, to see perhaps if anyone might be interested..?
I could hardly believe what I was seeing on my screen. I’d never been to Hawaii, and to think I might be paid to go! However, I was not the most senior educator, in fact, I was the most junior educator in the group. I applied along with fifteen others, but tried not to get my hopes up.
One weekend during the waiting period, our hospital had a nice off-site event for employees. The theme was a luau. I found a perfect green batik dress patterned with palm leaves and attended with my husband. Sitting at an outside table, sipping on an umbrella-festooned Pina Colada, with a flower behind my ear, I had an idea. What if I took a picture of my cheerful tropical self and sent it to corporate? Along with the subject line “Aloha! Send me to Oahu. I have the clothes.”
I sent the email that night. When I got to work the next morning, I had a reply in my inbox.”Congrats! You are going to Hawaii!”
Two weeks later, I was looking out of our hotel window onto Waikiki and arranging snorkeling and luau adventures.
Ask Nurse Beth Advice Columnist
My most recent venture was to propose and land a job as an advice columnist.
I was writing an article for allnurses.com, the largest nursing discussion forum on the web, with over 4 million viewers per month. At the same time I was answering private emails and messages from readers on social media regarding school and career advice.
Hmm…I thought, why not combine the two and write a career advice column?
Always try to stand out from the others when competing for a job. You may be perfect for the position, but they may never know that unless you go the extra mile to get their attention. Good luck in your job search!
Do you have any examples of how you landed a job by being persistent and creative? I’d love to hear your story.
Until next time friend,