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Thank you kindly, Kati, for inviting me to guest post on your wonderful and informative site that helps nurses be the best they can be. I’m honored.

I’m Nurse Beth, and I blog at nursecode.com.  I’ve enjoyed many nursing roles, one of them being Nurse Manager, which provided me with lots of interviewing and hiring experience.

My passion is helping new nurses. One, because it’s so tough out there to land a job, and two, well, because I love new nurses and their energy.

I know how the hiring process works, and I want to help new grads get started in their careers.

Here’s what you need to know about getting hired from an insider!


1. You need a strategy to get hired as a new grad nurse

Many new grads are discouraged and panic once they discover it’s not easy to get hired.

You have to stand out. That’s your hiring strategy.

Getting Hired as a new grad nurse

You have to Stand Out to get hired as a new grad nurse

At every contact point with your prospective employer, you have to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants.

2. Job Seeking is your Job

Let me ask: Is job seeking your full time job?

  • Have you studied and rehearsed your interviewing skills as much as you’ve studied for anything in school?
  • Have you gone outside of your comfort zone in your job seeking endeavours? Yes? When? What did you do? see, I’m tough 🙂
  • Do you get up early Monday through Friday, dress in business casual, and devote eight hours to getting a job?

Once  job seeking becomes your full time job, you will see results.

3. Beware These Easily Avoidable Mistakes

Here are some basic easy fixes.

  • Having an unprofessional email contact easily remedied
  • Having grammatical errors anywhere on application no excuse
  • Failing to follow application instructions to the letter fastest way to the shredder
  • Not smiling during an interview confident candidates project warmth and openness 
  • Offering a weak handshake at interview passive and insecure
  • Not making eye contact during interview confident candidates get the job
  • Not having knowledge of the company at time of interview savvy candidates are prepared 

 4. Smart Resumes Stand Out

Stop them cold with your savvy resume. If your resume doesn’t stand out, it doesn’t matter how perfect you are for the job. You won’t get an interview. Wow them even though you are a new grad with limited experience.

  • Customize. If you are applying to five different employers, you need five different resumes.  Target to each employer by modeling the language of the job description using their keywords 
  • Visually appealing layout and use of white space. One page long, mistake-free. Clean, neat, easy to read format.
  • Highlight relevant accomplishments, volunteer work, projects, honors, that illustrate how your skills match their needs.
  • Avoid cliches. Everyone is self-motivated and detail oriented. Instead give examples “Led senior class in a community project to educate public on handwashing”

5. Creative Cover Letters Stand Out

Your cover letter lures them in. Captivate them with a creative headline, make them nod at a personal story, and make them want to reach for the phone to call you in for an interview.

6. Interview to Win

If you are interviewing but not getting called back, the problem is most likely your interviewing skills. Interviewing is a learned skill.

The candidate who interviews the best is the candidate who gets the job. 

Many new nurses mistakenly believe that if they have a Tele interview, they should review Arrhythmia. Or to prepare for an Oncology interview, cram the night before on chemo medications. Wrong. They are not looking to see if you have in depth knowledge of a speciality. They know you’re new.

They are looking to see if you are safe, and if you fit in. It’s really as simple as that.

Interviews are often panel interviews consisting of the Nurse Manager, Clinical coordinators, and staff RNs. After the interview, the Nurse Manager will turn to them and say “Well, what did you think? Will he/she fit in?”

Nursing units are a group, a family if you will, and Nurse Managers  want to make sure you’re a good fit. Fitting in is about projecting warmth, opennness, and learnability.

Clinical Scenarios During an Interview

They’re not going to trick you with clinical questions. Commonly they will describe a patient scenario where the patient is in some kind of distress. No matter what the clinical details, they are really looking for responses that show you are competent and safe. Here’s what to say:

  • You stay with the patient shows a safe nurse who doesn’t panic
  • You call for help shows you knows your limitations (rated most important by many interviewers)
  • You initiate any basic interventions (example, apply o2, re-position: cue from the scenario) shows basic clinical competence
  • Bonus points: You anticipate what the provider will order (EKG, labs) shows critical thinking

Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions

Anticipate that the bulk of the interview will be spent on behavioral questions. Prepared candidates will not say “I’m a perfectionist” when asked “What is your Greatest Weakness?” It’s a cliche and a cop-out. A prepared candidate will be ready with a valid weakness that is not a core skill for the job, and quickly segue into the positive.

Are you prepared for “Tell me About Yourself?” Use the Present/Past/Future model. Tell them where you are now, mention your previous positions, and close with saying  you’d like to work for them in the future. Not rambling takes practice.

Within twenty-four hours after the interview, send a handwritten thank you note. This common courtesy is not so common, and will make you stand out.

7. Networking Nets Jobs

Networking is one of the best ways to get a job. Contact clinical instructors. Clinical instructors are well connected and have Nurse Manager friends. Contact classmates who graduated before you or with you and have a job.

Reach out at church or the gym to find other nurses and start talking. Join a professional nurses’ organization. Volunteer and make contacts.

 8. Risk-takers Stand Out

Some of these are risky, and only you can weigh the personal risk/benefit. Ask yourself: “What do I have to lose?”

  • Consider relocating as the nursing need is geographical.
  • Cold call a nurse manager. Respectfully, with resume in hand “I just wanted to drop this off in person.”
  • Use humor sparingly in your resume or cover letter to stand out. “I love Nutella” under Interests
  • Call HR. Applications get lost, it happens.
  • If you’ve had interviews and not been selected, call and ask for feedback on your interviewing skills.

9. If you are a nursing student, even better 

Work as a PCA in the hospital you want to get hired in as an RN. You almost certainly will get hired with your home field advantage.

Smart nursing students understand that clinical rotations are a time to be seen, make contacts, and stand out.

Getting hired as a new grad nurse

New grad nurses get hired every day

10. Never Ever Ever Give Up

Tolerate this uncomfortable and ambivalent stage in your life with patience and grace. This too, shall pass.

Remain hopeful-you didn’t come this far to fail. You will succeed!

Remember, new grads get hired every day- and with a solid hiring strategy, you will, too!

Again thank you, Kati and all your wonderful nursey followers!

If you enjoyed this post, please stop by and read:

Uncensored Thoughts of a Nurse Interviewer: from Inside the Interview Room 

How to Answer “Why Should We Hire You?”

Nurse Beth