by Rebecca McCaffrey
Thirteen years ago, my husband was offered a promotion with increased pay and less travel, but it involved moving across the country from our home in Denver to Atlanta with two teen-age girls. We agreed as a family this was the right move for us and we always knew we would return “home.” The big question was, “When is the right time to make a move?” considering we were both now in our mid 50’s with secure employment that could easily take us to retirement.
Our then teen-age children are now adults and had already moved back to Denver. Our parents all live west of the Mississippi and my husband and I were getting older. Decisions had to be made. After much soul searching, we decided to make the return move to Denver, placing our priority of being close to family above possible struggles of finding work, selling and buying a home and all the “adventures” of a cross-country move.
We then began the process of securing employment. My husband works for a world-wide company and is able to do his job with an airport nearby to facilitate travel and an internet connection. He began the conversation early about our intended “unapproved” move. Initially, the inference was made that they could terminate him if he proceeded with the move. He then made casual contacts with managers who had open positions within the same company about possibly transferring, allowing him to remain with his company in a different capacity. To his surprise, he was tentatively offered several positions.
The final conversation with his division was a presentation that showed how his thirty years of experience in the industry (and with his current company) would be an asset to an under-resourced area. He stressed that he would be able to do his current position as well as support the “west region” by being physically located in the Denver area. He also offered to be a support to the surrounding areas by being willing to travel all of the areas in the west region that were also under resourced.
In the end, his willingness to be flexible, accept additional responsibilities and presenting his experience as an asset that could not easily be replaced by younger or less experienced workers allowed him to move and remain with the company.
My transition was not as simple; transferring with the same company was not in the cards for me. I began my research by looking at the postings on several job sites, looking at what the Denver job market had to offer. As a nurse, I thought finding a job in a large hospital would be a snap. To my surprise jobs were not as plentiful as I had hoped. I continued to search the job sites as well as the individual hospital career pages, keeping a listing of potential jobs. I compared the job offerings, shifts and locations. I also did research on each organization, taking note of mission and vision, ratings, opportunity for growth, locations, etc. In addition, I looked at new areas of nursing outside of the traditional hospital setting such as clinics, schools, and occupational nursing.
I also examined my resume, after thirteen years with the same healthcare system, my resume was quite outdated and needed a “face lift.” I began by listing recent education and the new skills I had acquired incorporating them into a new resume. I also constructed a new concise cover letter.
Lastly, I contacted previous and current supervisors and co-workers, those who I knew would be my strongest references. I sent them a personal note about my pending move and job search asking if I may list them as a reference. I did not use any references that I had not personally spoken with. With all this in place, I confidently began the interview process.
I had several interviews that went well, but no immediate job offers. After several weeks of interviews and two job offers, I did a bit of soul searching, feeling that the offers were not the perfect fit. I believed that, at age fifty-five, I was looking for a position in a corporation that I could stay with into retirement.
With a renewed sense of purpose and focus, I restarted my job search looking for a different setting where I could use my skills as a clinical nurse leader and work in my chosen specialty, the older adult patient. I began to search long-term care and rehabilitation opportunities. I submitted several applications, receiving offers on all. After a series of interviews, I accepted an offer at an elder care community on the cutting edge of care using the Eden Alternative philosophy.
In the end, my job search afforded me the opportunity to reset my career by looking at opportunities that I had not originally considered. Taking time to deeply think about how my long-term objectives aligned with my passion for elder care made the difference in accepting a position that is the perfect fit.
Rebecca McGaffey is registered nurse certified in geriatrics and as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). Rebecca received a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Colorado and a Master’s Degree in Nursing from the University of West Georgia. She is also certified in alternative health care including Reiki, Healing Touch Spiritual ministries and Aromatherapy. She currently resides in Denver with her husband and works as a Transition Care Manager.