Tips for New Graduate Nurses: Applying for Your First Nursing Job

First and foremost, congratulations on graduating and passing your NCLEX-RN examination. Now, it's time to find a job. This is where the real strategy comes in. Here are some tips from expert nurse Nacole Riccaboni, to help you find a new graduate nursing job.

1. Strengthen your Resume

Since you have no bedside nursing experience, your resume should be filled with nursing school experience and exposures. Did you do your practicum on an oncology floor or pediatric burn unit? How many clinical hours did you have on the cardiac or medical-surgical floor? Mention these opportunities and the aspects of care you performed, such as assessment, procedures, etc.

This is your version of nursing experience and you should leave nothing to the imagination. Be specific, detailed and paint the full picture of what nursing skills you possess. If you're in nursing associations, have obtained certifications or have received awards, list these achievements as well, to set yourself apart from other applicants.

2. Make Your Job Search Strategic

After you have gotten your resume in order, it's time to look for a job. This can be done either online or in person, and I recommend taking both routes. When looking online, learn to filter your searches according to your interests and experience. If you have no bedside nursing experience, don't waste your time applying for positions that require 10+ years of experience. I made this mistake and spent a lot of my time applying to jobs I didn't qualify for and became frustrated in the process. The great thing about applying for positions online is that you can find opportunities in different states that you wouldn't have known of otherwise.

When it comes to applying in person, make sure you dress for success. Even if you're simply dropping off a resume to a floor manager, present yourself as professionally as possible. Once you've dropped off your resume to the staff, make sure you obtain a business card from someone in management or Human Resources. Within a few days, you're going to want to complete the circle of communication and check back in on your application status.

3. Follow-Up is Essential

This can be the hardest part of the job search for some new graduate nurses. After you've submitted your resume or even completed a first interview, you may not hear anything back for a few weeks. This can be anxiety inducing and frustrating, but don't simply move on; it's up to you to follow-up. Like many things in life, if you want the opportunity, you're going to have to work for it.

When you do follow up, it's best not to hassle management with tons of phone calls as this tactic can end up backfiring. Start with a thank you letter or email, or simply leave a voice mail a couple days after the interview. Keep it short, sweet and polite, thanking the recipient for taking the time to consider you for the position. Be sure to include your contact information, along with anything you may have spoken about during the interview that will help them remember who you are. If you don't hear anything back right away, allow a couple of weeks before sending a final follow up. If you still hear nothing, you can safely move on to the next opportunity, knowing you've done all you can to secure the position.

Finding a job can be difficult in any profession, so don't get overwhelmed or stressed out if you don't hear anything immediately. Often, hospital positions have to go through many routes and many hands before a position is finally offered. Many new graduate nursing positions are available across the country, but it may take some time to find a nursing job that will satisfy you. Hopefully, these tips will get you the results you want, and you can soon be on your way to starting the nursing job you've dreamed of. Good luck!