You can walk away

When you’re applying to jobs, many of us jump at the first offer. But you should know, it’s ok to say no.  It’s ok to walk away.  And in today’s nursing job market, you probably should, at least sometimes. You see, most hospitals are under-staffed, at least a little. And most are experiencing enough nurse turnover to make them uncomfortable.  The good ones, the ones that attract top talent and keep top talent, they’re hard to get into.  In other words, the recruiting systems turn away a lot of resumes.  The interviews at those places are tough.  And after the interview only a small number of candidates actually get an offer.  Those are the good places.

Then there are the hospitals that are losing nurses a mass exodus.  Those places will hire anyone with a pulse. Those places are desperate.  And the reason they’re desperate is that they can’t keep their nurses, usually because their work conditions stink and they treat their nurses with roughly the same respect I treat my dog.

See what I did? I turned the job market into a dichotomy of good places to work and bad places to work.  But actually, there are a lot of in between places. There are good units in bad hospitals and bad units in good hospitals.  There are units that are good one personality and terrible for another.

The interview should be the place where you figure out if it’s a good fit.  And that’s what the interviewer should be trying to do as well – it’s not just a matter of sticking a good nurse in a good unit. Each workplace has a culture and even the best of the best might not fit quite right. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the culture, the work environment, the things that are important to you.

My first job out of nursing school involved a panel interview with questions I never thought to prepare for, and an unfolding case study. The interview was a beast, and that was probably my favorite job ever. The next job I took was a completely different story. The hiring manager brought me in for an interview, showed me around the unit, then sat me down and offered me the job on the spot. There was no interview, and that was a job where I (and my colleagues) stagnated for years.

The point is, if it’s a place worth working for, they’ll make you jump through some hoops.  If it seems too easy, it’s probably not worth your time.   And there’s nothing wrong with saying no to an offer.  You can walk away, and be confident that there will be other opportunities.  After all, nurses are always in demand.

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