Is there a difference between getting a new job and advancing your nursing career? According to author and job search strategist Lisa Mauri Thomas, there is.

The following is an excerpt from her book, Landing Your Perfect Nursing Job (2012), available at

Living an Advancement Lifestyle Versus Going Through the Job Search Motions

There’s a real difference between passively or actively looking for a new job and truly furthering your career. Either approach is fine depending on your more immediate versus long-term goals. In other words, you need to think critically about what you need most: Are you feeling desperate for a new job, or do you want to craft a progressing career path that will help satisfy who you are at heart?

If you are feeling desperate about your nursing job search, sit back and breathe. Desperation will never help you think clearly, act strategically, or progress from a position of strength. You need to clarify your plans and reformulate your approach.

Start by determining why you feel desperate. Have a bad boss? Drowning under too much pressure on the job? Need more money to improve your personal circumstances? These are truly difficult situations, without a doubt. Reading this book is an excellent first step to place yourself in a greater position of strength as you move forward.

An advancement lifestyle, by contrast, is a set of ideals you believe in, paired with activities you engage in regularly that are geared toward propelling you forward in your career. Identify what is important to you, including compensation, rank, or recognition.

For example, you may wish to continue to climb the healthcare system ladder and improve your income year after year. Or you may value your flexibility, autonomy, or the ability to travel the world far more than career glory or a large staff, and you need only enough income to live simply yet comfortably.

Both are pictures of nursing career success; it’s all in how you perceive, define, and craft it. This is how your ideals are structured.

The activities you engage in will lend substance to your ideals and will make them tangible by virtue of being actionable. Activities should be productive and add measurable value. They also help us to feel that we are doing something, getting something done, or getting somewhere even if the pace is a bit slower than we’d like.

Activities are about gaining traction, sowing the ground for the seeds of our ideals to take root and flourish. Such activities may not bear fruit overnight but truly pave the way for long-term success in your nursing career.

Advancement lifestyle activities include:

  • Networking regularly through nursing societies, professional healthcare organizations, special events hosted by your employer, and local networking groups. These bring together multiple segments of the local community and nursing students can often join at a discount.
  • Presenting yourself professionally in all aspects of your life, both on and off the clock. Being mindful how you dress, groom yourself, and interact with others in public and on social media sites.
  • Identifying industry and organizational professionals and connecting with them to form partnerships.
  • Observing and analyzing healthcare needs and opportunities along with your nursing skills and background, positioning yourself for opportunities for career advancement. Broadening your understanding of the healthcare industry or specializing in an area of acute need by continuing your education through another degree, certificates, or CEUs.
  • Volunteering, aiding a cause, or showcasing a hobby in ways that both serve the community and get you noticed for your talents and generosity.
  • Doing all of the above in a consistent, positive, and professional manner, every day. It is the “every day” aspect that separates a typical job search from an advancement lifestyle. By developing ways to do something each day that move you forward or at least strengthen your foundation, your activities become as natural as breathing until you are scarcely aware that you’re doing them.

To understand how ingrained such habits have become already, note which activities you already engage in and how frequently or consistently. Keep a daily nursing career advancement journal to track your progress.