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The Complete Checklist for New Nurses: Tips for Landing a Job

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The Complete Checklist for New Nurses: Tips for Landing a Job

If you’re about to finish a nursing program or have recently graduated, one of your biggest worries may be landing your first nursing job.

It’s completely natural and totally normal to be worried about getting a job and what to expect on your first day as a nurse. But, the odds are in your favor. Within six months of graduation, 94% of nurses who earned a bachelor’s degree landed a job in 2019. Follow these tips to get your first job as a nurse, even without much experience.
How to Get a Nursing Job With no Experience

You might get discouraged when you see that many nursing job advertisements ask for at least a few years of experience. While experience always seems like a requirement, many facilities are happy to hire newbies, especially when they’re dealing with staffing shortages. Here’s how to get a job in nursing.
1. Think of Your Goals

While your first nursing job won’t last forever, it will put you on a certain career path. You want to make sure that the path you end up on aligns with your overall goals.

For example, if you’re interested in family medicine or OB/GYN, look for jobs in those areas, rather than in other specialties. Read any job descriptions closely to see if they match your goals and will meet your needs.
2. Get Qualified

You need a license to practice as a nurse, which you’ll earn by taking an exam after graduation. Depending on your goals, you may find that getting a multistate license opens more doors for you as a nurse.

With a multistate license, you can work as a nurse in multiple states, which lets you expand your job search and potential opportunities.
3. Think Beyond the Hospital

Many people think nurse = job in a hospital. But, the truth is, there are many more places where nurses are needed. Depending on your personality, non-hospital jobs for nurses may be more appropriate for you.

Examples of non-hospital settings where there’s a need for nurses include:
Schools
Airlines
Retirement communities and assisted-living facilities or nursing homes
Home health agencies
Rehabilitation centers
Government agencies

Also, keep in mind that non-bedside nursing jobs exist, too. You can use your new nursing skills to work as a medical writer, nurse educator or health coach.
4. Consider Traveling

Another way to get your foot in the door as a new nurse is to become a travel nurse. Travel nurses work across the U.S. and in a range of specialties and settings.

The positions are usually short-term, giving you a chance to discover what you like and what doesn’t work for you, without having to commit to a full-time, permanent job.
5. Talk to Other Nurses

If you’re still feeling stumped about how to get your first job or where to even start looking for jobs, other nurses can be excellent resources. Ask nurses with more experience if they have any first nursing job advice to offer.

The instructors in your nursing training program can also be a great resource for job advice and placement assistance.
6. Be Flexible

While it’s important to go into your job search knowing what you want, it’s also important to be flexible. You may not find a job that matches your requirements exactly.

For example, you may want a position that only has daytime shifts. But, it might be the case that the available openings all require at least an evening or overnight shift.

Remind yourself that your first job isn’t forever. If you can be flexible now regarding shifts, hours worked and opportunities, it may pay off in the long run as you gain experience in nursing.
7. Polish Your Resume

Your resume might not be very long when you’re applying for your first nursing job. But it’s still a valuable tool for marketing yourself to potential employers.

Even if you’ve never had an official nursing job before, use your resume to highlight any clinical experience you have. That can include internships or job shadowing while you were a nursing student.

As a new graduate, a functional resume format may work better for you than the traditional work experience resume. With a functional resume, you highlight the skills you have that are relevant to the job.

Pull skills directly from the job posting to include on the resume. Then, provide examples of how you built up those skills and used them in your career and training so far.
8. Be Persistent (But Polite)

Your work isn’t done once you’ve submitted your resume and application for a nursing job. If you don’t get a response within a week, take a few minutes to follow up with the employer.

Following up with potential employers can be tricky, as you want to come across as interested and engaged without being too annoying. A polite email to the hiring manager or HR department, asking when you can expect a response, should suffice.
9. Nail the Interview

If all goes well, you’ll hear back from at least a few employers about an interview. Whether over the phone or in person, the interview is a chance to really impress the employer and bring you one step closer to the job.

Preparation is key before any job interview. Follow these tips for nursing job interview success:

Prepare questions to ask about the job and the employer that go beyond the details provided in the job posting.
Prep answers to commonly asked questions. Focus on your career goals, why you want to work there and what makes you a good fit for the role.
Dress to impress for the interview. Professional clothing is a must.
Send a thank you note afterward to anyone who interviewed you.
10. Weigh Your Options Before Accepting a Job

You’ve done it. You applied for nursing jobs, aced the interviews and have received a few offers. Before you accept a new job, carefully consider the role. Is the compensation in line with your expectations? Do the location and hours work for your schedule?

Most importantly, will the job put you on a career path that’s right for you? Depending on how long you’ve been searching for a job, it can be easy to jump on the first offer that comes your way.

You’ll be happier in the long run if you only accept a job that really seems like a great fit for you.

Meta: Worried about landing your first job as a new nurse? Don’t be. Read on for tips for getting your first nursing job after graduation.

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