5 skills nursing employers desperately want from candidates

These probably won’t be in the job description, but they’d better show up in the interview session.

5 skills nursing employers desperately want from candidates

In my role as the president of RN Network, a staffing firm that helps fill travel nursing jobs, I—and my team—talk with nurses of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels each day who are interested in jobs, and some candidates stand out more than others. Why? They demonstrate that they have more than just X years of nursing experience or the letters “RN” behind their names. A lot more in fact.

We call these “intangibles,” and they’re not easily found within the confines of a job description. As we’re conducting our interviews, we—and lots of other employers—are looking to see evidence of these five skills:

1. Leadership

While only a few nurses will hold designated leadership roles at a facility, hiring managers are looking for nurses who lead in other ways.

Prove you have what it takes by volunteering to help other nurses wherever you can. Ask your director if you can take charge of orientation for new nurses, look for ways you can increase collaboration between departments, and get to know receptionists and billing team members to work with them more efficiently.

Then make sure your resume reflects your leadership abilities. If you help new hires learn the facility’s computer system, for example, include that on your resume and mention how many people you train each year. Employers will notice when you do something to help others.

2. Flexibility

One of the biggest traits we look for in travel nurses is flexibility, and hiring managers at hospitals are looking for the same thing. While your situation may not allow you to work different days or fill in for other nurses who can’t work—especially if you’re attending school or have a young family or aging parents to care for—it’s hard for a recruiter to employ a nurse who refuses to budge on schedule, pay or occasional on-call weekends.

Don’t sabotage your chances of landing a great job. Be willing to compromise a bit where you can, and you’ll find leaders are much more understanding when you do need to take time off or work a different schedule.

3. Positivity

Hospitals and doctors’ offices can be difficult places to work, especially during flu season or at other times when you’re caring for numerous people who are very sick. The job can be stressful and depressing at times. That’s why hospitals need nurses who can maintain a positive attitude and uplift others who may be feeling down.

Though this trait is hard to convey on a resume, you can show positivity in the interview. You should ensure that your responses to interview questions are positive and that you remain upbeat and happy throughout the interview process. A bright outlook will help you push through hard times at work and help your patients be more positive as well.

4. Positivity

Every nurse is exhausted after a 10- or 12-hour shift, and rightfully so. But if you’re sitting down after only a couple hours at work, your leaders and co-workers will notice.

Again, stamina is a trait that isn’t easy to include on a resume, but you can take a more active role in your physical health and mention steps you’re taking to improve your fitness. For example, you might list your participation in marathons or 5Ks among your interests or, better yet, get involved with a run sponsored by a local hospital and show you’re interested in both leadership and fitness.

5. Compassion

The best nurses are those who truly care about their patients and want to make a difference in their lives by providing the most quality care possible.

When you land a phone or in-person interview, talk about patient experiences that stand out to you and what you find most rewarding about being a nurse. Beef up your resume with other causes you’re passionate about, such as a Relay for Life program or supporting a local oncology clinic. Even if your interests don’t directly relate to your career, employers will notice that you care about others and strive to make a difference.

Though job requirements for nurses differ between specialties, having stamina, compassion, positivity, flexibility and leadership skills will give you an advantage as you’re searching for your next job—and help you make a good impression once you’re hired.

Eric Darienzo is president of RNnetwork, a travel nurse staffing company based in Boca Raton, Florida.