Welcome to another episode of Ask Amanda Anything!
Before we get started, though, if these episodes are your cup of tea, I wanted to let you know about a weekly series I do on IGTV where I answer your questions about resumes, cover letters, anything you want to know. I usually save the lengthier questions for the podcast, but if you have quick, tactical questions that you want answered, you know where to find me!
Today we’re talking goodness of fit, contracts, and how to determine whether you need to reevaluate or actually start looking for a new job.
The questions we cover in today’s episode are:
- How do I know a job is a good fit before accepting the position?
- What should I look for in a contract?
- Does it look bad to apply to a different position if you’ve just started somewhere new?
As always, if you have a question for me, please feel free DM me on Instagram or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Ask Amanda Anything.’ I hope you enjoy today’s episode! In the meantime, know I’m always rooting for you.
Q: How do I know a job is a good fit before accepting the position?
A: First of all, this is such an important question. You want to make sure you are happy in the job you have — that it’s a good fit professionally, for your personal life, that you’re happy and supported. We don’t want to dread going to work, yet so many of us do.
A lot of times, people will ask me about how to pinpoint red flags. I want you to think about backing up further than the offer, further than the interview.
- Does your job search strategy support what’s important to you overall? The way you’re looking for jobs and applying for positions, you should already have some sort of filter that is unique to you and your needs.
- Not every job is worth applying to. If you’re a new graduate and don’t have a ton of experience you may be feeling like any opening is worth a shot, but I want to challenge you to decide what your non-negotiables are.
So, what is your filter?
Rather than waiting for the interview stage to put things through that filter, how can you adjust your job search strategy earlier so that you’re not even wasting your time applying to jobs that aren’t a good fit?
This way, you’ve already vetted the jobs, and you can spend the interview process gauging whether the workplace environment, your potential colleagues, etc. align with your filter.
In the interview, if you’re a new graduate or you’re pivoting specialities, find out how supported you will be in your role. I believe that we all need the opportunity to learn and make mistakes and be supported and encouraged as we grow, and I think it’s important to make sure that your workplace is going to provide you with that type of safe space.
- What does orientation look like.
- When will you be expected to be at full productivity?
- Will you be mentored or precepted? Will you have someone you can go to with questions?
What are your safety nets?
If you get told you’ll have a 2-hour computer orientation and be shown where to put your lunch before you have a full panel of patients, that might not be the best role for you.
I recommend requesting the opportunity to shadow someone in the position or a similar role to see how you feel. What type of feeling do you get when you observe the job being done? What type of vibe do you get from your potential future colleagues? It’s hard to describe, but trust your gut. When you’re buying a house, it can look great in photos, but it isn’t until you get to the house that you notice the issues. Sometimes you have to be in a space to determine whether it will be a good fit.
Look beyond the pros and cons list and go with how your body feels.
And with all that said, sometimes we’re right, and sometimes we’re not. If you take an opportunity that wasn’t a good fit, debrief with yourself and find out why. You can work that into your strategy for finding your next opportunity. Because there will be a next opportunity!
Q: What should I look for in a contract?
A: I am going to gear this toward NPs, but even then, this is so individualized.
First, I encourage you to listen back to episode 13 with Monica the NP. Monica is truly the negotiation expert, and that episode is full of all kinds of wisdom from her.
I want you to first understand that what is important to one person in a contract may not be important to another person. Remember that filter we mentioned earlier? Bring that back out here. What’s important to you?
It goes without saying that you want to be compensated fairly. You should be looking for a salary that is fair market value, and it’s up to you to do that research on what people are being paid with your experience in your region. Come up with a fair range and don’t deviate (unless it’s above your range!).
Your contract should include things like time off, a description of any retirement plan, information about what type of CME money is included.
Will you get a stipend every year to spend on a conference? Will it fund a whole conference? Can you get your license reimbursed? Will they pay for you to be a member of an organization?
What does retirement look like? Do you want to be one of those people who works until 75 because they have to? Or even 65? Do you want to work to full retirement age? I’m kind of in the camp that I’m working now to fund my fun in the future, and the sooner that I can do that, the sooner I can have enough money to say I don’t want to work anymore, and that’s a big milestone. That means beginning to save when you’re just starting out. You can save on your own, but if your job offers you employment sponsored retirement, you can put more money in those and they’re tax-sheltered. If you are offered that, that’s a good financial advantage, and it’s even better if they contribute money to it or match it. I once had an employer who put ten percent of my yearly salary into a retirement account for me, regardless of whether I put any in myself.
When I was working in the ER in upstate New York, I was working part-time, and I dropped down to the fewest number of hours I could work and still get healthcare benefits. I was 18 hours per week in my job. I didn’t really care that my salary was low. What was important to me was health insurance for my family, and I wanted to have time off. You better believe that when I sat down every month to make my schedule, I made sure I was maximizing my time off. I worked nights and I didn’t want to be working strings of nights, so I would work 2-3 nights and try to get as long of a stretch as possible at home with my family.
Depending on where you are in your life and what is important to you, certain things in contracts will mean more to you than others.
Look at the term and termination clause. How long is the contract good for? When are you able to renegotiate? If it’s a 5-year contract and nothing is built in about incremental salary increases, that’s something to ask about. And what are the rules around breaking the contract? Some clauses might say that you have to pay back some money, like a signing bonus, if you terminate before the end of the contract. It may say that you have a non-compete clause, and in that case, for any reason — whether you quit or are fired or laid off to a global pandemic (hint hint) — you could be subject to a noncompete clause. If you can’t work after termination for any practice within 20 miles within 5 years — very dramatic — then you can’t get a job where you live for the next five years or that you would be in violation if you did.
There is more information about contracts in my course, Dream Job Road Map for NPs: Commencement to Contract, and Monica the NP also has a program and resources regarding contract negotiation. Regardless of your plan, do your homework. Make sure you’re looking at your contract and acting in accordance to your priorities!
Q: I just started a remote nursing job, and I’m miserable. Does it look bad to look for something different if you recently started a new job?
No it’s not bad! If you are miserable, get out of there. You’re always allowed to feel what you’re feeling and take action depending on that.
I want to encourage you to think about why you’re miserable though. Can you answer that question?
In episode 15 with Sadie from The Remote Nurse, we talked about why we think some people go into work from home nursing jobs. A lot of times it has to do with their being a lifestyle mismatch — maybe someone is a new parent, maybe they don’t thrive in the hospital setting or just don’t like being around people.
Everyone has a different motivator for going into these roles. If you haven’t figured out what you wanted to do by going into this field, it can be difficult to be happy and satisfied in your role. I want to encourage you to think about exactly why you feel miserable?
- Does your schedule suck?
- Do you not enjoy the work?
- Do you not connect with the patient population?
- Are your colleagues unsupportive?
- Do you feel that you are missing out on something else by being there?
Come up with a list about the real problem, the real disconnect. A lot of people will feel miserable in a job and think that the answer is to get a new one, but if you haven’t addressed the why, you’re likely to make the same mistake twice when it could be that it is entirely within your control to make a change that would improve how you feel. Of course, it could be that you do just need a new job, and that’s fine too! Just check in with yourself and figure out why you are unhappy before you make your decision.
LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED TODAY:
- Dream Job Roadmap for New Nurse Practitioners
- Nurse Becoming Episode #13 with Monica the NP
- Nurse Becoming Episode #15 with Sadie from The Remote Nurse
Listen to more episodes here!