The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

January 25, 2013

Work Advice: Skills Matter More Than Degrees

Q: When I applied for my current job, the ad asked for a specific nursing degree — registered nurse, or RN — that I don't have. I sent my resume anyway and mentioned that, although not an RN, I had the skills and experience to do the job. After a couple of interviews, I was hired. My supervisors have told me repeatedly how well I am doing, and I even received a promotion.

Recently, I have heard them refer to me as an "RN manager." (I manage a team, but they are not RNs.) And now my supervisors will hire only RNs for my position.

I never misrepresented my lack of a license on my resume or in the interview. The job I am doing does not require a nursing license. But I am fearful that if I don't say something and then one day am asked for my nursing license, I could lose my job.

A: There's a lot of this going around. Hold on while I get my white lab coat.

Symptoms: Despite positive feedback and rewards, subject lives in fear of being "found out" for failing to meet an irrelevant standard.

Diagnosis: Excessive conscience, with a dash of imposter syndrome.

Rx: Chill pill, stat.

You told no lies to land this job. It wasn't your responsibility to try to talk your supervisors out of hiring you. And now — unless patient welfare is at stake, or you're being asked to do something illegal — it's not your responsibility to make them second-guess their decision.

Employers often use degrees as shorthand for "candidate has appropriate skills for this position." This doesn't mean your hiring was a fluke; you're an exception because you're exceptional.

For protection against any future changes in management, you can ask for a formal written description of your job that focuses on duties, not degrees, and suggest expanding the hiring ad to request "RN or equivalent experience."

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