this article should be titled "How to NOT get a job as
a Caregiver, Nurse or LPN." In my time as the
editor for Assisted Living Directory, I have witnessed countless
jaw-droppingly lazy, misguided, and hopeless ways that people
attempt to get jobs in the assisted living industry or caregiving
So, what do I have to
offer for this topic, you might be wondering. Really, I have
a handful of accomplishments that I can bring to the
table that qualify me to advise people on fine-tuning, or overhauling
their job-search strategy.
Firstly, I have had
a lot (when I say a lot, I mean it) of jobs, and several careers
in my life. Secondly, I have Never NOT gotten a job that I really
wanted, or interviewed for. Thirdly, I have networked and gotten
to know quite a few professionals in the senior care field,
and I have a pretty good sense of what they are looking for,
and what types of candidates are by-and-large looking for work,
and how they are doing it. Fourth, I have been on both sides
of the table - interviewer and interviewee. I have screened
hundreds of people over the years, and I have a solid sense
of what stands out in an interview - good or bad.
I am also from what
I believe it the last generation who truly knew how to interview,
prepare for interviews, and that were skilled in obtaining employment.
From what I see, many (but not all) younger folks from this
current generation lack the necessary networking skills, persistence
and professional presentation that my generation, who is likely
going to be doing the hiring - is looking for and expecting.
This can, however, be an advantage
for those applicants who shine, and who do all of the right
things. We'll get to those items in a bit.
To start, here are a few things that I have seen commonly
with the current job-seeking force that are absolute, don't-even-think-about-it
No-No's if you expect to get a job anywhere.
Don't text the company asking if there are jobs available.
Seriously. I have received text messages from brand-new graduates
asking if there are any jobs available. On the surface, this
is just annoying, and for me, my phone plan is a per-text plan,
so chances are, if I don't recognize who the text is coming
from, I am going to delete it. On a deeper level, it is a lazy
shortcut that shouldn't even be acknowledged with a response,
and says quite a lot about the sender.
Oh boy, the emails. Daily I receive emails
from candidates looking for work. They usually are trying to
e-mail a facility on my site, but often times, they contact
our site directly, showing me that they didn't look very hard
at what they were doing or who they were trying to get a hold
This method, although
slightly less annoying than text, is still, to me - inappropriate,
and your e-mail is likely to get sent to the trash bin, if it
didn't already get flagged as spam, and sent to that folder.
Again, a likely wasted effort.
Adding e-insult to e-injury,
most of the e-mail solicitations for employment are a far cry
from grammatically correct English and syntax, all capitals
(bad) or all lower-case (just as bad). Sometimes, I wonder if
my 7-year old is creating them just to get a reaction out of
Here are a very
few many gems that have made their way to my inbox over the
- "Ya'll have
any jobs. I like taking care of old people"
- "I am relocating
to florida in january.Im looking for a job as a hha or soon
after cna. I was licence for about 15 yrs then i let it go.
i had licence 2 times.Now im thinking of it in florida. i love
working with the older people. so i was just wondering if you
have anything you may be able to offer." - SANDY
- "please if
i want to apply a job to your facility where should i do it.is
it online or i walk into your facility?" - selina
- Are you needing
and CNA. I finish my class at the beginning of Aug and I am
looking for a job. Thank U -Chantell
if u are hiring any cna im bilingual with alot of experience
and wondering how to get job application" - lori
- "I need a
job." - Joan
i would like to inquire if there is a job vacancy for caregivers?
I am a registered nurse who passed the board exam just last
year , and is currently unemployed. I am willing to work as
a caregiver in your respectable institution if you may so."
- "I AM A CAREGIVER
WITH 5+ YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WITH; ALZHEIMER'S, DEMENTIA, CANCER,
HOSPICE, STROKE, DIABETICS, HYPERTENSIVE PATIENCES AND MUCH
MORE. I AM LOOKING FOR CAREGIVER JOB"
- "iam a utah
cna certified relocating to orlando. do i need to be florida
certified to apply for a job at your facility? - mari"
- "CAN U GIVE
ME JOB? TEXT ME BACK AT U CONVENIENCE. MY LAST JOB SUCKED."
If you are unable
to identify what is wrong with the emails, and method above,
I recommend that you keep reading...
3) If you do
happen to get face-time with an employer, please shave, shower,
and wear professional clothing. I have been in the
'interviewers chair' quite a bit in my life for several of the
management positions I have held, and it astounds me still that
candidates show up with 2-day old beards, tongue piercings,
not showered, jeans and t-shirts, and smelling like last-night's
I know, I sound
old-school on this one. But, again, old-school is likely going
to be judging you - so you have to play with old-school's
bat and ball. You have every right to express yourself and your
individual tastes, but believe me, when it comes to an interview,
vanilla will win over rocky road every time. After you get the
job and you have proven yourself as a worker, then you can start
'dipping your toe in the water' with your personal preferences,
style and tastes.
4) Drama is
not a good ingredient for any interview. I am not sure
what compels interviewees to treat an interview like it's a
counseling session. I've had interviewees start the session
by telling me that they 'just broke up with their boyfriend
and they were up fighting all night' or starting the interview
with an off-color joke. No good. The last thing any company,
assisted living home, or employer wants to deal with is a train-wreck
employee. They are the weak morale-link, and employers will
not be sympathetic to whatever tale-of-woe you bring in. Leave
it at home.
Ok, enough on
the don'ts - you get the idea. Bring your A-game in, and here's
some advice on how to do it, and how to get the job you really
and human-check. After you get your resume together,
make sure to spell-check. Misspellings on a resume, or grammatical
errors will almost always get your resume thrown to the bottom
of the pile if they are noticed. ESPECIALLY in a field or position
where precision is a life-or-death matter, such as administering
medications in an assisted living home.
Having a trusted, intelligent
human to look over your work will help to make sure your resume
is readable, makes sense, and to "double-check the spell-check."
Sometimes, spell-check can change the word into something spelled
right, but not the word intended. For example, 'snacks' was
changed to 'snakes' on one of my listing pages. Indeed, an amenity
that says "Snakes are available all day" might turn
a few potential residents away.
2) Don't email
or text your resume, or job inquiry unless the company
specifically invites you to do so. In my experience, most of
these are deleted or ignored if they don't find their way to
the spam folder first.
A voice can go a long way to breaking the ice, and establishing
a personal connection. Be overly positive, enthusiastic and
polite. Ask direct questions such as "What is the process
to be considered for employment" and "Whom can I request
an interview with and when are they available."
Use your manners. Please and Thank You go a
long way, and it amazes me how so many people forget these 'sandbox
rules' and instead present a sense of entitlement, and being
"owed" something by the employer. Never forget the
power of Please!
Get in front of someone. If a phonecall doesn't
work, try to get in front of someone, even if it is just for
a minute. A visual (as long as you look sharp and professional...please
refer to #3 on our 'don'ts list) goes even further than a voice,
and is easier to remember for an employer than a generic-looking
piece of paper with text on it (your resume). Ask "When
is a good time for me to come back." Be persistent, but
always ask the employer to call the shots.
Persistence. In my time as an interviewer,
and employer, I almost always gave the job to a person who showed
genuine interest, and was persistent with follow-up calls. Showing
persistence, continued interest, and enthusiasm will keep you
on the employer's radar.
Write a hand-written thank-you-note after the interview.
REALLY, you mean write something? I do mean this. It's old-school
again, but effective. There's something refreshing about 'penmanship'
that adds to your personality, and how you are perceived by
the company and interviewers.
8) Know who you will be serving.
Relevant to #7 above, in the case of senior care, most of these
folks still hand-write everything. Most seniors don't care to
see your tattoos, piercings, texting skills, or new ipad.
the company before interviewing with them. Nothing
is more impressive when an interviewee shows that he or she
knows about the company, it's history, mission, and clientele.
Being able to ask intelligent questions about a company, and
offering answers to questions you might be asked about said
company will show initiative, and that you have a sincere interest
in working for them.
10) Be willing
to start at the bottom, or in a position that isn't
exactly the one you are applying for, just to get your foot
in the door.
About a decade ago,
when I was still working in the hospitality industry, and extremely
burned out on it, I was ready for a change. I wanted to move,
and get into the tech industry. I had researched where I wanted
to live geographically, and where I wanted to work. There was
a brand-new startup 'dot-com' that was just about the coolest-looking
company I could imagine. I heard tales of gourmet coffee for
the employees, a rock-wall next to the customer service area,
personal massage for employees every Thursday, and an awesome
benefits package. I wasn't worried about Craigslist, Monster
or the other job boards. I wanted to work THERE - and that's
what I was going to do. However, I had no experience with 'dot-com,'
e-commerce, or anything else really that didn't involve serving
food or managing busboys. Didn't matter to me though. I was
going to work there one way or another.
I managed, through persistence,
personal visits, and showing a genuine interest in the company,
to secure an interview. This company, however, was pretty laid-back
though, and the dress code for most of the employees was jeans,
t-shirts and flip flops (you can imagine how it might be working
at google or apple - same thing). I came in donning a suit and
tie, and was almost giggled out of the building. The first thing
the manager said to me was "if you are going to work here,
you have to lose the suit and tie." I don't regret my choice,
though. It's always best to go overboard on the 'professionalism'
than under. He appreciated my effort.
He basically told me
that although I have plenty of professional experience, I am
not uniquely qualified for many of the techy-type jobs they
had there. I replied that I will do ***anything*** just
to get in the door, to learn, and to prove myself. He
offered me the lowest-end position that he had - answering customer
emails all day. I took it, and it was the best decision of my
life. I did the absolute best job I could to be the most proficient
e-mail handler the company had, and I was quickly getting noticed.
My professionalism quickly got me promoted to bigger-and-better
jobs, where I learned the ins-and-outs of the industry. My
new skills eventually launched my 'career' into doing Assisted
I started at the bottom
and never acted with entitlement. I had the confidence to know
that I would do excellent, professional work. I knew it was
a matter of time before someone noticed...and they did.
11) If there
are no jobs 'available' offer to volunteer.
Assisted living facilities are very often in need of volunteers
to help with any number of daily caregiving tasks or routine
jobs. This is a great way to profoundly show your interest,
and to show the potential facility or employer 'what you've
got.' Believe me, if they see what a great potential employee
you might be, they will do everything they can to scoop you
up. It may be only part-time to start, but, referring to #10
above, you can work your way into your desired position. Even
if you are an LPN (Licensed practical nurse), or have a degree,
each company and facility is different, and volunteering is
a great way to 'dip your toe in the water' before committing.
A facility or administrator
may require a background check if you are interested in volunteering.
Offer to do one, and to pay for it. In my state, I recently
did one to become a volunteer at my son's school, and it only
cost $20, and took only a few minutes to complete. Again, this
12) Even if
you don't get the job, send a thank you note for their time
and consideration. There are plenty of times when the
first-choice candidate backs out, and the next few in line are
considered again. If you have left an impression, which is easy
to do with a well-written thank-you note, you'll likely be reconsidered
for the position.
13) You may
have noticed that I have left out references to job boards and
websites. Most people know how to use these, and I
have never been a huge fan of them. I believe that you should
identify which companies you want to work for, and pursue them
whether they are hiring or not. Many companies, especially larger
ones, don't openly advertise positions through popular media
outlets. Figure out your dream jobs, and companies, and work
your way down YOUR list.
Simply put, in the end, an employer
is going to evaluate what he or she thinks she is going to get
out of you as a worker. If you show that you
are a polished coin, well spoken, and that you have put an effort
into your interview, research, and follow up - you are going
to stand out from the majority of the other applicants. If you
come in disengaged, ill-shaven, with serious punctuation issues,
and a sense of entitlement - it's probably wise to keep looking,
and to re-evaluate your strategy.
Even in this slow-economy
decade, there are still a great number of jobs to be had, and
if you show some flexibility, and willingness to prove yourself,
the job you want can be the job you get - eventually. -