The Right Fit


I have interviewed thousands of nurses and each time, the question that always come to mind is, "is this applicant qualified?". Interviewing is harder than it looks, but it’s worthwhile. As an interviewer, my primary job is to assess candidates. More important in my profession, though, is convincing the potential ones to stay with the employer.

I know the expectations and dreams of applicants. Many come with impressive curriculum vitae; a handful have graduated with Latin honors; some are top notchers in board exams; whereas others are armed with clinical experience. They have specific countries they'd like to go to or hospitals that they'd like to work for.

There are various choices of countries and hospitals that an applicant can qualify with. It may look like an applicant truly fits a particular post but it becomes harder since other nurses are also competing for the same position. An applicant may also dream of working in a specific hospital however, she doesn’t fit just because of a lack in experience. Sometimes, an applicant may have all the necessary qualifications, but will not be ideal for an employer because deep down she prefers to work somewhere else.

With all these factors, determining the right fit can get quite complicated. One thing that I’ve discovered though, is that the right fit favors the person who perseveres. An applicant like you who invests her time and effort in these three simple actions will usually find it easier to land one or even more opportunities:

1. Gain experience. Employers will always have specific qualifications and requirements. It may be 1 to 2 years of work experience, an experience gained in a 100 to 200 bedded facility, no gaps at work and the list goes on. Whatever they may be, employers usually prefer those who are already in the workforce, or have been to it in the past, so that the applicant won’t find it too difficult to adapt to the new work setting. It’s unnerving enough to work in an entirely new country—previous experience will at least help the applicant adjust better.

2. Develop your basic nursing skills, then pursue the area of specialization that you are most interested in. As much as possible, stay focused in your area of interest for 2 years or more. Choosing a specific career path then building your experience in it will reflect your mastery in the area. Overseas hospitals’ systems and practices are becoming increasingly intricate, that if asked to choose between a specialist or a jack of all trades, they’d gladly go for the former.

3. Never give up. Sometimes, repeated rejections may make it seem that you’ll never fit anywhere, but keep in mind that your hard work has a purpose. Grab every opportunity, be disciplined and always stay committed. Small steps, when done consistently, will eventually lead to leaps towards success. Before you know it, you’re already watching yourself upgrade.

Sonia Fernando, R.N. is a Nurse Consultant in Abba Personnel Services, Inc. She joined our team last January 2004. As Nurse Consultant, she conducts the technical interviews among nurse applicants and some Allied Health Professionals. Sonia has worked in King Abdulaziz University Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her over 20 years of experience from local and international hospitals has given her exposure in OR and Post Anaesthesia Care Unit, ER-Admissions, and VIP unit assignments. She has also taught at the College of Nursing in Centro Escolar University. Sonia is a BSN graduate of the Philippine Christian University-Mary Johnston College of Nursing.

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