After spending several years and several thousand dollars completing your nursing education requirements, nursing degree program and passing the NCLEX exam, now it is time to look for your first nursing job. Everyone is buzzing about the down economy and high unemployment rates, but you still need to secure your first job in your new career. Let these ten easy tips be your guide in preparing to land your first job as a registered nurse.
1. Create a nursing-oriented resume. Create a new resume now that you are a licensed registered nurse and highlight all aspects of your education and work history that relate to nursing. On the flip side of this, you might want to down play non-related work experience or other endeavors. The goal is to appear focused and dedicated to your nursing career.
2. Adopt a conservative dress code for job interviews. The nurse is traditionally known as a caretaker, not a trend setter. Come to your interviews playing the part and you will land the role.
3. Keep an open mind to working different shifts and in different fields of nursing. Many nurses enter their first position in one field and later transfer to a more permanent position in the field of their choice. In the beginning you will increase your chances of landing your first job if you exhibit a conforming attitude. Later on you can make changes according to your preferences.
4. Find a way to differentiate yourself from the pack. Remember that nursing schools are packed and they are cranking out thousands of intelligent young graduates every semester. Most of these recent grads will be seeking employment in similar positions, so it is important to find ways to distinguish yourself from the other applicants.
5. Dont place all of your eggs in one basket. Apply for several different entry level nursing positions in local hospitals, doctors offices, assisted living facilities and long term care centers. Remember it only your first job and you do not have to stay there forever. It is important to cast a wide net when searching for jobs in a tough market.
6. Keep a positive attitude even if you face rejection. You will apply for many jobs but you will only choose one. Similarly, employers will interview several candidates but they will only hire one. Dont get discouraged if you arent having any luck on your first few interviews. In this tough economy there are many experienced nurses also seeking employment and some might be competing for the same jobs as you are.
7. Dont be a know-it-all, present yourself as an excellent student who is willing to learn. Although you have your nursing degree you must remember that you do not have any hands-on experience. Many employers will hire a brand new nurse so that they can train them and give them the experience necessary to become an independent RN. Once you have the work experience to accompany your nursing education you are in the drivers seat.
8. If you have a Bachelors degree in nursing or a Masters degree in nursing be sure to highlight these accomplishments. I know this might sound contrary to the last point, but if handled properly this will increase your chances. The higher degree you hold the more opportunities you have available to you and the greater your knowledge base is. This is appealing to employers as they see the value in you as a long-term investment.
9. Try working through a nurse staffing agency or nurse recruitment program to find a job. Many recent nursing graduates head straight to the local hospitals in search of nursing job openings. The advantage of staffing agencies and head hunters is that they have existing relationships with nursing employers and might be able to offer you a better shot at gaining employment with their endorsement.
10. Be patient and dont lose your enthusiasm. Continue to remind yourself why you went to nursing school and what made you choose a career in nursing. Let those motivational factors guide you through the last step of a difficult process of becoming a nurse. Once you land your first nursing job you will never look back!