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What's out there?

Using your values and talents as a guide, the next step would be look at your career options, taking the time to research them thoroughly and gathering as much information as possible.

Understand the landscape

Take it upon yourself to become an expert with regards to the job market. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest is to search on the internet. Look through vacancies on job websites and social media and sign up to receive alerts from job searching websites, agencies and specific employers. You'll soon learn what sort of jobs are out there, which roles are in demand, and what sort of experience and skills employers are asking for. 

Speaking to recruitment agencies and nursing agencies can also be a good idea; they might be able to offer you information about the current job market specific to your area.

Information gathering

Take time to research the sorts of roles you’re interested in. You can do this by searching the internet, reading journals or publications pertaining to that field, or joining professional networks. 

Try and explore whether there are any designated career frameworks / skills frameworks that apply, such as the District Nursing and General Practice Service Education and Career framework, or the Core Skills Education and Training Framework for Dementia, Mental Health, and Learning Disabilities. A list of some core skills training frameworks can be found on the Skills for Health website here.

You may want to look on websites such as: Health Careers, NHS employers, and Skills for Health.

Get advice from your peers and contacts

Have a think about the contacts you have already and how they might be able to help. They could be people you work with now, people you used to work with, people you did your training with or people you met at events. Could you approach any of them for some advice or would they be able to give you some insight into your possible choices? Alternatively, ask around to see whether your existing contacts know anyone that they could refer you to instead.

Consider how you could network and expand your connections. Examples include getting a LinkedIn account, joining professional networks, or attending events and conferences. The more people you have to gather advice or tips from, the better. If you’re on social media, some of the RCN forums and networks have their own closed facebook groups where you could link up with members from that field.

You might want to ask questions such as

  • What do you like about working in this area?
  • What are the challenges?
  • What does the current landscape within this area look like?
  • What types of qualifications / experience are desirable for this role?
  • What path did you take to get into this role?

Can you try before you buy?

Explore whether there could be a way for you to get a taste for a new role before you embark upon it fully.

Arranging informal visits is a good way of doing this; you’d be using this as an opportunity to make contacts, get advice and information from your potential peers, and methodically assess the environment you’re interested in working in. Be prepared to put yourself out there by building your contacts, making enquiries and being proactive in arranging such opportunities.

Alternatively you could use your initiative to seek out possible shadowing opportunities (either within work time or outside) secondments, or negotiate a sabbatical or career break. Some employers will be really supportive of this and will already have policies in place to try and help staff progress within their careers.

Keep an eye out for careers fairs

Careers fairs are an excellent place for you to network, not only with other healthcare professionals, but with employers. 

The organisations displaying at these events will be armed with lots of information and resources about various careers and roles. If you're curious about a particular career path or have questions about what qualifications, training or experience you might need, the representatives will be able to give you advice and tips. 

You could ask them about arranging an informal visit, or try and get some clues and insight into what they'd be looking for in a candidate and how they recruit. 

In addition, there will often be career related presentations, discussions or talks which you can benefit from.

RCN Careers Service

Our Career Coaches can offer one to one career coaching for members who would like to explore their career crossroads further, along with offering more careers exercises. 

NHS jobs

Search and browse jobs within both the public and private sector, or sign up to receive jobs by e-mail 

What is Careers Coaching?

You may have come across a Careers Adviser at school or university, whose role would have been to provide advice and information on qualifications for certain professions. 

Careers Coaching takes a different approach, instead working collaboratively with you to:

  • Reflect on your current situation
  • Guide you to engage in the process of reflecting and researching
  • Encourage actions and decisions to be made by you as the individual, to ensure ownership
  • Help eliminate any fear, negativity or uncertainty
  • Identify some steps to take forward with any career decisions. 

The benefit of Careers Coaching is that it takes into consideration other factors which may impact on your career and work-life balance. You may have personal situations or needs which can affect your career, and so coaching will explore these.   

What the Careers Coach can do: 

Help you to reflect on your current situation and facilitate your career journey.  As a result of this process, they can identify some steps to take forward career decisions with action steps.

What the Careers Coach cannot do:

Influence or dictate your decisions. They cannot tell you what job to do or which course to take, but will instead will work collaboratively with you to guide you to take the next steps.


Want to speak to a Careers Coach about this?                       

Contact RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100 to book an appointment with the RCN Careers Service. Careers appointments are done over the telephone, so it's easy and convenient for you.

0345 772 6100