How to Land a Job as a New Nurse

by | Jan 26, 2021 | Nursing Jobs & Interviews | 0 comments

While it might be daunting to think about job hunting, there are some things to keep in mind that can help you land a job as a brand new nurse. Below we provide some straightforward and easy steps to help you to land a job as a new nurse.

How to Land a Job as a New Nurse

How to Land a Job as a New Nurse

It is the second to last semester of your final year in your nursing program. Congratulations on making it this far! I know firsthand that it definitely was not easy. But several all-nighters later and you are now perfectly positioned to seek out the next path in your career and land your dream nursing job

You have narrowed down what you want to do, crafted the perfect registered nurse resume, and are ready to start applying for your first new nurse job. Let’s go through some tips to be successful in this process.

Start Your New Graduate Nurse Job Hunt Early 

Don’t wait until you graduate. Many new graduate residency programs will have application deadlines, so waiting until you’re completely done with your program may mean you’re going to miss out on high quality jobs.

Speaking with a former nurse residency program director, she informed me that for their May graduates, they would have an application deadline in December. She state that the highest quality candidates were submitting their applications early, so in October or November – well before the December cut off. Those who submitted their applications right at the deadline tended to be people who were less impressive.

This means that as you begin your senior year, you really should start thinking about where you want to work to narrow down where to apply. (Below is a guide to help you navigate your extremely busy senior year of school!)

Some details include knowing which city you want to eventually work in and the hospital you want to work at will help you focus on the application requirements. Remember that not all applications are created equal; read thoroughly what you should provide when applying (references, transcripts, clinical recommendations). 

In addition, the pay is definitely a factor in location as well! Most larger cities will have higher salaries to match the higher cost of living. Some people prefer living near a metropolitan area. Are you one of them? Research what range of salary you would be comfortable with.

Asking for your references early is a common courtesy, but also sending in your application when you are done leaves the hospital administration with the impression that you are eager and serious about applying. 

References Matter!

Many new graduates feel that because they do not have bedside experience, that means they’re not qualified for any positions. Don’t be deterred! References can speak volumes and they are essentially a way for someone to vouch for you when you are not in the room. In a field like nursing, your character, ability to work in teams, punctuality, reliability, willingness to work, can really help you shine among applicants. And what demonstrates this best is someone else who is speaking to these to verify that you don’t just see yourself with rose-colored glasses – you actually are all of those things!

Volunteer experience should also not be completely discounted. Volunteering shows you are willing to go the extra mile, and still translates through in the field of nursing.

Another thing new nurses may not consider is the impact a reference from the hospital they want to work at could help them boost their resume. If you know which hospital you want to work at, reach out to them in a professional and congenial way and ask if they would be willing to write you a reference. This should be a thought out and conscientious choice. Do not ask someone you do not know to give you a reference simply because they work at the hospital of your choice.

Follow Directions – Precisely

This sounds really simple but honestly is much easier said than done. Throughout the application process, they are assessing a candidate’s ability to follow simple directions.

If a hospital is asking for resumes or references in a certain file format, do it in that format. Take care to read directions carefully and maybe twice, to make sure you do not create more work for administration moving forward with your application. Especially as a new nurse, you will be proving over and over again that you can follow directions. Sometimes other people’s work may depend on your ability to follow directions.

Knowing Your Worth Will Help You Stand Out

Let’s say you have crossed all your ‘t’s, and dotted all your ‘i’s, and you have passed the application portion. Competition for a hospital position may be fierce. This will hold especially true if you are applying in an especially saturated city or region. It is possible your resume and experience may end up sounding similar to a lot of other applicants. This is the reality of most competitive industries. 

Knowing yourself well is the best way to position yourself and present yourself well during the interview phase. This is the intangible part of your application and why an HR coordinator may or may not hire you. People in hospital HR can tell very quickly who is faking something or not. In a field where not necessarily having the brightest smile or aggressive drive will win you the job, know yourself best, and how you function with and around others can be what makes or breaks your team should you ever be in a high-risk situation in your hospital. Don’t be a hero, but do not undersell yourself either. Most of all, the job of a nurse is to be teachable and being resolute in your decision-making at critical moments. 

It is definitely possible to get stage fright and be nervous for an interview. Having trouble articulating these qualities? Take a look at our comprehensive course that digs deep into doing so.

At the end of the day, your confidence in yourself will instill confidence in your interviewer that they made the right choice in hiring you. There was a reason others believed in you to offer you those references and there was a reason you got the interview. Focus on the needs of the position and really ask yourself how you can best fit into the position at the hospital you want to work at. 

Final Thoughts on Landing the Job as a New Nurse

Showing that you have done your research by starting early and giving the hiring team what they are asking for exactly is all part of courtesy. They do not win the position. Ultimately, your competency provided from your experience, as well as in yourself, and your interpersonal skills matter just as much. Show your willingness to be eager in your job, as well as to show up willing to learn and absorb new information. These are all the foundations for landing a job as a new nurse.

How to Land a Job as a New Nurse [VIDEO]

More Resources on Jobs For New Graduate Nurses

Are you done with the guess-work of applying and interviewing for nursing jobs?

hired: the ultimate guide to nurse resumes and interviews course cover

Hired from FreshRN is a self-paced, online course for ambitious nurses who want to be the ideal candidate for their dream job. Amber Nibling, MSN RN-BC, and Kati Kleber, MSN RN have interviewed hundreds of nurse applicants and they give you the inside scoop of what interviewers are thinking. Learn everything you need to know to impress potential employers (and yourself) by learning what the hiring team expects from you, so you can not only meet, but exceed those expectations.

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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