Congratulations on graduating from nursing school! After years of hard work, now you deserve a job that will be engaging, rewarding, and a good match for your personality and skills. However, as a recent grad, it can be tricky to find the right opportunity. To ensure you are happy with your first decision, take your time and explore the market to learn about the types of opportunities that will be best for your career goals.
Kelly Mattice, Senior Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s Healthcare Division, understands firsthand the difficult decision nurses need to make after graduating. “It can be an overwhelming process to figure out how to land your first job out of nursing school, but I always encourage new grads to approach their job search as strategically as possible,” says Kelly.
Here are four easy ways to find the best nursing job as a new grad:
Understand your options
Finding a reputable hospital to work at is often the main goal of many nursing grads looking to start their careers. However, it is a common misconception amongst recent grads that hospitals are the only options available to them. “There are a variety of healthcare settings to consider including home care, long term care, and even clinics as potential places to work,” advises Kelly. On the other hand, if you’re unfamiliar with which facilities are hiring, consider utilizing major job boards like Indeed or LinkedIn to give you a better idea of what employers are looking for in candidates with your experience.
Use your network and resources
Since you can’t rely on years of professional experience to land your next role, using your network to get your foot in the door is your next best option. For example, your nursing program may have affiliations with a number of hospitals or your adjunct professor could be a nurse at a local facility they could connect you with. “Many nursing grads fail to consider their school’s network as well as the different types of employment available before making a decision on their first job,” notes Kelly. If your immediate network can’t provide a solution, consider working with a recruiter who may be able to connect you with per diem or contract roles before finding something more permanent. This way, you get the chance to see what the best fit for your needs might be.
Get certified in multiple states
You always want to find ways to set yourself apart from competition throughout your job search. One of the best ways to do this is by securing certifications to work in additional states. In other words, if you are open to commuting or even relocating, nursing grads should strongly consider getting licensed in surrounding states. For example, if you live in New York, you might want to consider getting licensed to practice in states like New Jersey or Connecticut, as these are easily commutable locations. “Not only do additional certifications make you a more marketable candidate, but having specific certifications speeds up the hiring process for you significantly,” says Kelly.
Perfect your resume and interview prep
One of the first things a new graduate should do before jumping into your job search is to perfect your resume. This entails not only reviewing your resume for grammatical and syntax errors, but also having a friend or relative read your resume to catch anything you might have missed. “Aside from your education and experience, your resume should include all languages, volunteer work, organization memberships, certifications, and rotations,” advises Kelly. In addition to an error-free resume, you should also consider preparing responses to common interview questions, as well as a list of good questions to ask your interviewer. In the end, you want to make sure you are fully prepared once you are invited for an interview.