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How to get a job you love


Claire Westwood, Nursing Times’ Happy Nurse, tells you how to find your ideal job.

Most nurses who are looking for a new job start by looking online or in the nursing press for vacancies. This is one way to find a job, and can be time consuming and ineffective if you don’t really know what you are looking for. There is a system which will get you more effective results and a much better job match for you personally. Follow these steps and find a job you love – many of my clients have done this in only 12 weeks!

Before you start - get a notebook that you will write all your ideas in. This is important so you can remember all your ideas and keep all your information together.

  1. Know who you are. This is the vital first step. If you want to find a job you love, you need to know what you really want. This all starts with who you are. What do you like about your job -  what tasks do you do that you are good at and that you enjoy? What do you do out of work that you love? Who do you like to spend time with? Are you a team player or do you like to work alone? What skills and experience do you have? Think of activities you do outside your work that can add variety to your profile. Some of your organisational skills that you use at home, your creativity or your humour can all be useful in looking for your ideal job.
    Think about your passions – what really gets you out of bed in the morning, what topics fire you up or gives you a feeling of fulfillment? Think of as many things as you can and write them all down. What knowledge do you have? What can you do easily that others find difficult? Most people think that everyone can do what they can do, but this is not the case – think about how you are different to your friends and colleagues
  2. What do you like in your job? What gives you a sense of satisfaction or fulfillment? What types of tasks do you get ‘lost’ in or give you a sense of ‘flow’? When are you happiest in your current job? Think about all the jobs you have had, or placements you have done in your training and add in everything you can think of that you like.
    Write all this in the notebook. Then think about what you do that you do not enjoy. What tasks or roles would you be happy to leave behind? Which areas or patients do you not like to work with? Don’t judge yourself for this, but keep going and writing – this may take 2 or 3 weeks to complete these sections. It is good to spend more time on this, rather than not enough time. This is your future you are planning!
  3. Draw up a dream list of everything you would like in your new role – hours, environment, type of work pace, amount of time spent alone or with a team, shifts and routines. Add in all the aspects that you have identified that you love to do and all the tasks you enjoy. Then add your favourite patient type and any other details that you have thought of. Make it as detialed as you can – the more ‘texture’ it has, the better. Make it feel really ‘real’ and start to focus on how great it will be when you do that job.
  4. Then look for your dream job. Once we know what we are looking for it is much easier to find it. Find departments or organisations you are interested in and see what they have available, or ask about any vacancies coming up. Not all jobs are advertised so don;t assume they are – ask, ask, ask and get more information about other jobs or units if they don’t have any vacancies right now. Make a connection and visit the areas to ensure that they know who you are.
  5. Apply for the job! You may not have all the aspects they have asked for, but this is their dream list. They are looking for someone with all the requirements ideally but it is not always necessary to have all the aspects asked for in the person spec. Remember to highlight all the reasons you will be great for the job. You know what these are as you have spent time looking at this and identifying the reasons you are a great person for the role. Put all the evidence in and be creative in adding as much relevant detail as possible.
  6. Interview – this is the final stage and is much easier once you have been through the above actions as you know why you are a good match for the role. Don’t tell them what you haven’t got but highlight what you do have and the passion you have for the role.

I have had coaching clients who have got their ideal job in just 12 weeks, despite feeling like they wanted to leave to profession a few weeks earlier, and also clients who have successfully applied for roles that initially seemed way above their abilities or experience - you have nothing to lose by going for it! The more jobs you apply for the more choice YOU have. Get as many job descriptions as possible and focus on the ones with most of the aspects you want in your new job. If you keep your options open you are not at the mercy of one interviewer but can make a choice yourself about what job you really want. Look outside your normal sphere too – the independent sector or commercial sector might offer something totally new that you didn’t know exist. Keep looking and asking your network and make sure you feel good about the roles you are applying for, so you don’t get diverted by what other people think or their opinions. It’s all about YOU and what YOU want.

So, in brief – know who you are and what you want. Look for it, apply for it and have a great interview. Be a happy nurse!


Claire Westwood is a qualified nurse and Results Coach. Visit for 21 free happiness tips or click here to buy her book!


Readers' comments (4)

  • Chance would be a fine thing; there are no jobs!

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  • "...look for your dream job..."

    "Be a happy nurse!"

    HA, HA, HA, HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    accept any job you are lucky enough to get and then start dreaming!

    even with a higher degree, good qualifications and long years of experience you cannot force any employer to offer you their job when they have a hundred other applications for one job.

    Happy b--ddy Patronising!

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  • "You must be careful when you ask people whether they’re happy; it’s a question that can upset them a great deal."

    François Lelord

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  • further to comment above, for those who don't know, François Lelord is a French psychiatrist and author of several books so he should know!

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