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How to make a career transition

Changing sectors may be a daunting experience but rest assured nurses are in the driver’s seat, writes Julie Moore

With a chronic shortage of nurses and nurse managers in Australia, more and more employers are thinking innovatively about how they can secure nursing talent. This means they will consider people from outside their sector and will offer flexibility in working hours and location. For nurses looking for a career transition, there has never been a better time to take action.

As a registered nurse, you may ask yourself, “How do I go about changing sectors, when my experience is in a different area?” Well, here is a 6-step plan that will help you make the transition.

Step 1: Update your resume

Cover your career objectives, what you are looking for in a role and what you think you can bring to a role or an employer. It is important to cover your skills and experience. For example, if you have managed large teams or delivered training and education in acute care, then you can do the same in another sector.

Step 2: Identify the health care sectors you are interested in

Stick to just a couple of sectors – targeting too many will dilute your efforts. Identify the organisations that you would like to work with within your sectors and then introduce yourself to them. You could contact recruitment consultancies working in the sectors you have chosen or directly contact the HR departments of your target organisations.

Step 3: Be clear on the roles that you want and the locations in which you are prepared to work

Finding the right job can be like finding a new house. There’s no point wasting time looking at a two- bedroom city apartment if your needs include housing for four kids and a dog. As you would when house-hunting, it is important to draw up a specification of your ideal job, including key job content, length of commute, location, remuneration and type of organisation (e.g. Not For Profit).

Step 4: Develop a relationship with a reputable, well-connected recruitment consultant

Find someone who is interested in you and your aspirations, and who is prepared to sell you to their clients. You should establish their credentials and connections in the sectors you are interested in, and satisfy yourself that the consultant has shown genuine interest in your background and what you are looking for.

Step 5: Do your homework on the sector and the employer

For example, if you are looking to move into aged care, brush up on the Aged Care Act and Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI). You won’t be able to claim any experience but you will demonstrate awareness of them. Having the knowledge will boost your confidence and it will leave a prospective employer with an impression of initiative and enthusiasm, and this will differentiate you from others.

Step 6: Be bold and tenacious

Don’t let self-doubt as to whether your background is suitable stop you from seeking a role in a different sector. There are progressive employers that want your skills and that are prepared to invest in bringing you up to speed. It may take a while, so be prepared to make a number of approaches. Stick at it. Remember, good nurses are thin on the ground and this is your time.

Julie Moore is an executive recruitment consultant with PJ Maynard Consulting

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