When You Don’t Land Your Dream Nursing Job

by | Jul 8, 2020 | Podcasts, Nursing Jobs & Interviews | 0 comments

The journey towards securing your dream nursing job can be filled with anticipation, excitement, and at times, a sense of disappointment. When the dust settles and you realize you haven’t landed that coveted dream nursing job, it can be disheartening, leaving you to wonder what to do next. In this uplifting blog post, we will explore the essential steps to take when faced with this challenge, from reflecting on the experience and embracing alternative opportunities, to refining your skills and maintaining a resilient mindset. Join us as we delve into the world of nursing career navigation, and uncover valuable insights to help you bounce back and ultimately achieve your professional aspirations.

This podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, PlayerFM, iHeartRadio, Libsyn, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Who You’ll Hear

Kati Kleber, MSN RN– Nurse educator, former cardiac med-surg/stepdown and neurocritical care nurse, author, and speaker.

Chelsea Klekamp, BSN RN – Experienced bedside nurse, Nurse Residency Program Coordinator. 

Amber Nibling, MSN, RN, NE-BC, NPD-BC, AMB-BC – Experienced bedside nurse, former Clinical Director of Education, current Senior Director of Clinical Learning at Orlando Health.

When You Don’t Land Your Dream Nursing Job

You don’t have to land that dream job right out of nursing school! Don’t freak out!

Ask For Feedback

While the nursing manager will decide you didn’t get the job, an HR recruiter is typically who delivers that news to you. It might be a numbers thing. Were there two spots for 45 applicants?

Maybe you didn’t interview well. Ask for feedback for improving your interview skills.

Remember that the decision has already been made and this is not a bargaining place. It’s a learning opportunity for you. 

“What should I be working on if this job is still my end goal?” is a great organic way to pose the question.

Remember: Just because there is a nursing shortage in the United States does not mean you will get any nursing job you apply for. 

And just because you already work at a facility doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a nursing job. We’ve seen people who have worked as CNAs on a unit and just assume they’ll be guaranteed to earn a nursing job, but it’s not that simple. If as a CNA, you were not reliable, required a lot of coaching or redirection, or there have been complaints … the RN job isn’t just given to you. They may interview people who would be better in the role and less of a risk. So please – keep that in mind! Your time as a CNA on a unit is like a constant RN job interview if you are hoping to eventually work there.

The Interview is Often the Deciding Factor For Nurses

Grades, resume, clinical references, previous job history all also contribute, but the interview can make or break it for a candidate. 

The interview should not be a performance, it should be genuine. If you came off inauthentic, that could cause them to not trust what you’re saying. You want to walk the line between being prepared to respond to common questions, but not rehearsing a prepared script.Talking about yourself can feel awkward or unnatural, so you will benefit from organizing your thoughts beforehand and practicing a bit.

Try to accept that the first few minutes of the interview may feel uncomfortable because your anxiety is up and the adrenaline is rushing. Realize it, accept it, don’t overthink it. 

Do some self-reflection to collect your thoughts and ideas. Any feedback you get from the HR representative will be helpful here to address specific issues. Also, consider practicing answering questions while recording yourself to see how you’re coming off to other people. Maybe you have a little RBF but don’t realize it. Or maybe you’re so warm and positive that it’s coming off as fake.

What to Practically Do When You Didn’t Get the Job

The first step will be to find another job. You can ask the HR recruiter if there are other positions open at the same organization that you could be considered for.

Research what other types of nursing jobs are available in your area (nursing home, home care, procedural center).

Wherever you work as a nurse you can and will be learning the elements of delegation, prioritization, time management, etc. even it’s not the exact job you wanted. There are many non-hospital jobs that can prepare you to transition into acute care one day. I outline some community nursing positions in this blog post, and you may consider something like a skilled nursing facility, subacute rehab, or something similar. There many options in the nursing field, so even if you don’t secure this position – don’t give up hope!

I have a 3-page list of tons of job options in my course, Hired: The Ultimate Guide to Nurse Resumes and Interviews. It’s in the first module.

Stay at your job for a decent period of time before applying for your dream job again. Having three different jobs that you only stayed with for a few months each doesn’t look great for when you do reapply to the unit you really want to work on. Your job history demonstrates your loyalty and commitment, or lack thereof – so keep that in mind

Final Thoughts on Dream Jobs for Nurses

Don’t expect to get a specialty track (ED, ICU, L&D) dream job right away. With those positions, many people are vying for very few spots and typically only the top candidates are securing those jobs. I’m talking people with top grades, interview like a pro, and has connections in leadership at that hospital.

This is the most important piece of advice I can give about about striving for the dream job and coming up short: You have not ruined your career by not getting this dream job right out of nursing school. 

While nursing school was painfully difficult, getting through it isn’t the end of the journey. If it was a marathon, getting through nursing school would be like getting to the registration table of the big event after training for months. You have yet to begun the race! People in other fields don’t land their top job position on the first go. It takes time to build up to that. The goal isn’t to start off your career with the perfect job, rather to maximize the benefits that the career provides you throughout the entire journey.

More Resources on Jobs for 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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