Whether you are a new graduate looking for your first job in health care, or an experienced Nurse looking for a change, careers fairs are a great way to meet employers face to face and can open your mind to new career possibilities. Here are our top 10 tips to get the most out of attending a careers fair for nursing:
Top 10 tips when attending a nursing careers fair
1. Come prepared
With so many potential health care employers it’s a good idea to do your homework; examine the list of companies that will be attending and identify your top prospects. It will also be beneficial to introduce some wildcards, maybe an industry you haven’t considered working in or a company you haven’t heard of before. This is the best opportunity to find out more; to ensure you are making an informed decision. Speak with different Trusts that might be present and make the most of your networking time.
2. Find out how to approach interviews
Many careers fairs also run seminars and workshops where you can find out how to structure your CV and how to prepare for an interview. Make sure you take advantage of everything that is on offer. Preparing for an interview not only helps to settle your nerves, but also gives you the confidence to steer the conversation, find out more about the role and ask key questions.
3. Ask about training & development
Nursing begins with a period of preceptorship, which is a transition phase designed to help newly Registered Nurses to further develop their practice. It covers fundamental competencies in patient care as well as broad skills in leadership, management, teaching and communication. Ask if the company runs a preceptorship programme and / or a rotation programme and what you can hope to gain from these. Don’t forget you must renew your registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council every three years by revalidating so make sure to ask about revalidation too.
Ask if the company has a policy of hiring from within, and what the typical career trajectory looks like for a new employee. You can even request examples of long-standing employees who have progressed within the company.
4. Consider what support you may need
This is even more crucial if you’re fresh out of university and this is your first job – you will need ongoing support. Many companies will assign you a Preceptor / Mentor who will help you with any issues that may arise. Working in health care can be both physically and emotionally demanding ask what support is available to you if you are struggling - and importantly - don’t be afraid to ask for help!
5. WOW potential employers
Some attendees fail to recognise that a careers fair can actually act as your first interview. Usually in-house recruitment teams attend career fairs looking for the best talent, and you want to make a great first impression. If you know your dream employer is exhibiting at a careers fair, it’s now your time to shine. Make sure you research the companies you are looking to talk with and prepare talking points.
6. Ask about the good AND the bad
Every job has its challenges and it’s important you ask how others have progressed and where people may have struggled. Recruiters should be willing to talk openly about the challenges of a particular role – after all they don’t only want to recruit you, but they want you to stay. You may also be able to demonstrate how your particular skill set will help you to overcome these challenges.
7. Company culture
It can sometimes be overlooked but company culture is key to understanding whether you are a right fit for each other. For starters, culture contributes to the identity and values of a company and you need to ensure these are in line with your own. Understanding the company’s mission, expectations and work atmosphere from a current employee’s perspective with give you an idea of what to expect. Statistics show that a company’s culture has a direct impact on employee turnover, which affects productivity, and therefore success.
8. Health care policies & frameworks
Policies and frameworks are vital to the health care industry. If you have a particular interest, such as working within mental health, ask about the policies and frameworks the provider has in place and how you would be expected to follow these. Does the company work with recognised Trusts and Councils, such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to develop and implement these frameworks? This will give you an idea of the health care priorities of the organisation, and you can determine if these match your own.
9. In which type of environment would you be most comfortable, and most successful?
At career fairs for Nurses there are a variety of different industries present. Each health career requires different skill sets and personality traits. You need to think about the environment you want to work in, the skills you want to acquire and the relationships you would like to form. For example, if hospitals seem too cold or too large, you probably should not be a hospital Nurse. If you are easily depressed, you might not want to work in a hospice environment, where patients typically spend their final days. If you do not enjoy interacting with people, you might be happier working in a lab, or if you enjoy forming long lasting relationships then a care home environment might be the right fit for you.
10. How will your health care career impact your family & personal life long-term?
Finally, be sure to consider how your home life and your family will be impacted while you are in school, completing training, and after you get the job. For example, if you want to be a Doctor or Nurse in a hospital, you may be required to work nights or weekends while you are on call.
Additionally, are jobs and residencies available in your area, or will you have to relocate at some point? If relocation is necessary, is this a feasible move for your family? How will the financial constraints impact your family as well? It is crucial to give this thought now before you begin to invest energy, time, and money towards obtaining your new career in the healthcare field.
We hope these tips help. Attending a job fair can be an overwhelming process especially if you are not sure about the next step. Make sure you are making the most from the day, speak to people, network and ask for help and advice. If you have a particularly productive conversation with a recruiter, get their business card and ask to follow up on your application or talk about any open positions.
Good luck in your job search!
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