- 01 September 2017
- 7 min read
How I found a job as an RNLD Nurse
Lauren Young offers advice by explaining how she found her first job in Learning Disability Nursing and Social Care.
I am very excited to be starting my new job as a Learning Disability Nurse in September, working in a care home.
I was very lucky as it was the first job interview I’d had as a professional, so I was nervous and did a lot of research beforehand trying to prepare!
The Job Search
As I approached the end of university, I found looking for jobs quite daunting. I think a lot of my cohort shared this feeling.
Although I did not finish the course until July, I started my job search in February. My aim was to give myself practice at searching for jobs, and also writing applications.
If it came to it, I could also get some interview experience, although I could also gain this from the University’s careers adviser if necessary.
As well as websites like this one (Nurses.co.uk), I also looked on NHS Jobs. Interestingly, private companies also sometimes advertise on the site. Hence, I could apply for the job that I eventually was offered.
This may be something to be aware of if you are keen to work in the NHS and applying through the NHS website. It may be an idea to double check if any private companies are mentioned, so that you know exactly who you are applying to.
So, I was very surprised, and pleased, to be offered an interview for one of the first jobs that I applied to. It was not the only job I applied to and many of the others I did not hear back from, although I could have asked for feedback.
Where To Find Jobs
There are several ways to search for jobs in nursing.
The placements you undertake during your course can hold a wealth of information regarding job opportunities. You may be offered the job directly from your placement.
The advantage of this is that you already know some of your work colleagues, the nature of the work they undertake, and you may have experience of doing this work whilst you were on placement there. This can greatly help with the transition from student to professional nurse.
You need to be aware of this, and adapt from being a student nurse to fully integrating into the team as a full-time, permanent colleague.
You will have more responsibilities than you did as a student, and should be prepared for this change.
If you are returning to, for example, a first-year placement as a newly qualified nurse, you may also need to think about how the support staff will view you. During my first placement, the support staff provided a wealth of information and support to me, and the rest of the staff.
As I progressed through the course, I was seen more and more as a leader of the support staff. By carefully managing your relationships with support staff and the other nurses, you can manage this transition and maintain good working relationships with all staff.
Placements may also direct you to other sources of information if you are interested in a particular type of work. If your placement was in mental health, they may be able to direct you to opportunities in outreach and community work.
Your course lecturers are another source of information for finding jobs. This may be especially true if you are looking for a niche job, for example, working with people who have learning disabilities from black and ethnic minority communities, or the LGBT community.
Course lecturers may know people within specific areas, and can direct you on how best to apply for these types of jobs. Course lecturers can also offer advice on job applications, how to meet the application criteria, and give you confidence that you can meet the criteria in the first place.
When I was applying for jobs, I thought the criteria didn’t match my experiences, and doubted whether I should spend time on a personal statement.
However, by talking it through with my course lecturers, I realised my experience did match.
Do remember to tailor each application to the job you are applying for.
Your course mates may know of job opportunities.
Often, we attended conferences, open events, and recruitment days.
By developing an open culture on our course, we shared information with each other which might be relevant. This could be through social media, phone Apps, or during lectures.
It is important to utilise all available avenues open to you, to ensure you access the best job opportunities that fit your skills, experience, and type of job you want. Nursing is a very diverse profession, and it helped me greatly to explore what my options were before choosing which job roles I wanted to apply for.
As well as these sources of information, there are of course the more traditional job searching techniques. You will no doubt be using the Internet to search for jobs.
Specialist job websites like Nurses.co.uk provide a wealth of information and job vacancies - and they are targeted so you can easily and exclusively browse RNLD jobs.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) bulletin also has a jobs board and there are a number of general job sites that may have some relevant jobs - such as Reed.co.uk. But these are not focussed only on our industry!
Then there is the NHS jobs site with lots of jobs. Again, it's not just nursing of course.
Finally, you could make a profile on the professional networking site, LinkedIn.
Bear in mind that not all jobs have the words ‘learning disability’ in their titles.
On generalist sites this can create a problem as the jobs aren't easily found if the search is only looking at words in the title. Specialist sites allow searching by sector (Nurses.co.uk has a sector for Learning Disability jobs).
So on some sites I found it was only by scanning the job description that I realised the nurse job was in fact, for learning disability nurses. Personally, I also sometimes specified that I want to work with adults. This may also be the case for you if you have a personal preference.
Another avenue of job opportunities is the Research Nurse.
These nurses work in a variety of settings, including universities, charities, and government organisations. You can find these types of jobs via the avenues already discussed, as well as websites like jobs.ac.uk.
Some of these jobs may require you to have a Master’s degree, which is another option once you qualify.
Where To Work
It is easy to see how I found job searching quite overwhelming when I first started.
As well as these avenues, learning disability nurses can also be found in hospitals, care homes, the community, in universities, and working with charities to name a few.
My choice to work in a care home was influenced by my previous experiences of working in care homes, and I realised I wanted to continue in this setting. It would also provide a somewhat familiar environment for what is still, my very first job as a newly qualified nurse.
These are all things you may think about when deciding on your first newly qualified position, as well as whether a preceptorship is offered, and the quality of this.
Importance Of Support
At each stage of my decision-making, support was available. This support came from my university tutors, lecturers, course mates, the University careers adviser, and my previous placements.
There will also be a lot of support available to you for when you are making these decisions.
This support made my job search just that little bit easier.