As a new nursing graduate, stepping into the job market can be challenging.
Even with the growing demand for nurses, many rooky nurses will face difficulties securing their first position.
How Hard is it to Get a Job as a New Grad Nurse?
Obtaining a new grad nursing job is hard in many areas of the country. Nurse managers often favor experienced candidates. To make things worse, many new nurses seek roles in specialized areas that have traditionally been challenging for newcomers to enter.
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What does it cover?
Just to name a few.
Statistics on New Nurse Graduate Job Offers
Here’s an interesting statistic on
- 77% of new BSN graduates have job offers by graduation.
- 67% of MSN graduates have job offers by the time they graduate.
- Between 4-6 months post-graduation, BSN graduates will have a job offer.
- Between 4-6 months post-graduation, MSN graduates will have a job offer.
What should you take away from this? If you’re putting in the effort, the odds are in your favor that you’ll be able to get a job as a new nurse.
Current Job Market for New Grad Nurses
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for new grad nurses can be challenging, despite reports of a nursing shortage and a projected 7% growth rate in nursing jobs through 2029.
Because many students will struggle to find their first job, being proactive and using smart job search tactics is important.
One reason newly graduated nurses face difficulty is their lack of experience and knowledge to meet job expectations.
Employers often prefer hiring experienced nurses or those with specialized skills, which disadvantages new grads.
Additionally, external factors such as the pandemic (I know it’s been a while, but still) may impact hiring practices.
Factors Influencing Employability
Here are some of the factors that can influence your chances of getting hired for a job.
1. Education and Accreditation
A strong educational background and accreditation from a reputable school can significantly impact your job search.
I don’t think this is the most critical thing for nurses.
That said, I recognize that if all else is equal, there might be a minimal advantage to graduating from one school versus another.
The demand for nursing jobs varies by location. There might be a shortage of nurses in some areas, while there may be a surplus in other regions.
Newly graduated nurses should research the regional job market and be open to relocating for better job prospects.
Choosing the right nursing specialty is important. While some nursing specialties are in high demand, others might be saturated.
For example, many nurses do not want to work in med-surg, but that can be one of the easier nursing specialties to get into.
On the flip side, many nurses want to get into a specialty or subspecialty like a transplant ICU or trauma ER (specialties that are notoriously difficult to get into as a new nurse).
Building a strong professional network is crucial for finding job opportunities.
Engaging with peers, attending networking events, or participating in professional associations can help open doors to job opportunities that might not be advertised publicly.
5. Job Search Strategies
Having a focused job search strategy can make the process more efficient. Tailor your nurse resume and cover letter to specific positions.
Make sure to research potential employers and prepare for interviews. (We have a lot of resources available to ace your nurse interview in the linked article).
Follow up with employers after submitting your application. If you get an interview, follow up with a nursing interview thank you letter. This does a lot in terms of showing your interest and professionalism.
Tips for Applying to Your First Nursing Job
Here are some tips to boost your chances of getting your first nursing job.
1. Prepare a Strong Resume
A powerful nursing resume is crucial when applying for your first nursing job. Your resume should be tailored specifically to the position you’re applying for.
This means highlighting relevant experiences and qualifications that showcase your ability to excel in the role.
Choose a resume format that best highlights your experience, personality, and qualifications.
The reverse chronological format is recommended for most healthcare professionals, especially new nursing school graduates, as it prioritizes your career history and lists roles sequentially.
When preparing your resume, include specific examples of any clinical experience and potentially relevant nursing skills.
Organize your resume with headers and strategically place keywords to ensure easy reading for humans and applicant tracking systems.
For example, you can mention that you’ve supervised staff at a previous clinical placement. Providing concrete examples of your experience strengthens your resume and helps you stand out from other applicants.
Additionally, pay close attention to the job posting and tailor your resume to the employer’s requirements.
This might mean emphasizing certain skills or experiences over others or reorganizing your resume to make it easier for recruiters to see how you align with their needs.
Remember that recruiters spend very little time reviewing each resume, so capturing their interest with a tailored and well-organized resume can greatly increase your chances of landing the job.
2. Tailor Your Application for Each Job
While applying for your first nursing job, it’s crucial to customize your application for each position.
Employers look for candidates that have taken the time to research the company and demonstrate how their skills and experience align with the position requirements.
Start by carefully reading the job description and identifying the key requirements and qualifications. This will help you align your application with the job’s specific needs. Make sure to:
- Highlight relevant skills and experience, showing how you meet or exceed the requirements
- Use keywords from the job description in your resume and cover letter
- Research the healthcare facility, understanding their values, patient population, and unique needs
In your cover letter, emphasize your passion for nursing and explain why you are interested in the specific position and facility.
Remember that this is your chance to showcase your skills, accomplishments, and passion for patient care. Use your resume to highlight relevant clinical experience, volunteer work, and certifications.
Remember, tailoring your application for each job increases your chances of getting noticed by hiring managers and landing an interview. Invest the time and effort to make your application stand out.
3. Prepare for Interviews
Preparing for interviews is crucial to increase your chances of landing your first nursing job.
This section will guide you through common nursing job interview questions and provide insights on dressing and mannerisms for a nursing interview.
Common Nursing Job Interview Questions
It’s essential to familiarize yourself with common nursing interview questions to answer them confidently during the interview.
Some of these questions may include the following:
- Tell us about yourself and why you chose nursing as a career.
- How do you handle stressful situations?
- Explain a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient and how did you handle it?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse?
- How do you work in a team environment?
Ensure you rehearse your answers to be more at ease during the interview process. Reflect on your past experiences and integrate them into your responses, as real-life examples showcase your skills and competencies effectively.
Dress and Mannerisms for a Nursing Interview
Making a good first impression is key, and how you dress is a big part. Look neat and professional, go easy on the jewelry, and keep your hair conservative.
Ideally, you’ll want to wear business attire and not scrubs. I discuss more interview attire in this article about what to wear to a nursing interview.
Your mannerisms (or how you act) are equally important during the interview process. When speaking, avoid fidgeting and maintain a calm demeanor.
Make appropriate hand gestures, but avoid waving your hands and touching your face and hair. Subtly mirroring the interviewer’s gestures can help build rapport.
Maintaining good eye contact and displaying a firm handshake demonstrate confidence and professionalism, which can help you stand out in the competitive nursing job market.
4. Network Within the Nursing Community
Networking is essential to any job search, and it’s no different for nursing.
Building connections within the nursing community can open doors to job opportunities and provide valuable support throughout your career. To get started, consider the following strategies:
1. Join Professional Nursing Associations
Becoming a member of professional nursing organizations, such as your state nurses association or the American Nurses Association (ANA), can help you connect with fellow nurses and stay informed about industry news and events.
Many professional organizations offer job boards and career resources that can assist in your job search.
2. Attend Networking Events
Nursing conferences, seminars, and workshops provide excellent opportunities to meet professionals working in your field.
Attending these events allows you to engage in development opportunities and build your network.
Don’t be shy; introduce yourself to others and strike up conversations. Remember to bring business cards and follow up with new connections after the event.
3. Connect with Alumni
If you recently graduated from nursing school, take advantage of alumni resources to connect with fellow graduates working in the field.
Many schools have alumni networks or online platforms that enable you to reach out to and get advice from successful alums.
4. Utilize Social Media
LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for nursing job seekers, allowing you to connect with professionals in your field and follow organizations that interest you.
Ensure your profile is complete and up to date, and use the platform to post about industry-related topics, engage with professionals, and search for job opportunities.
Finding a job can be tough as a new graduate nurse, but there are ways to overcome these challenges and secure a position.
Here are some of the challenges you’re going to face and how to overcome them.
How to Handle Job Rejection Letters
Rejection is an inevitable part of the job search process, and learning to cope with it is essential for success.
First, understand that rejection is not a reflection of your abilities as a nurse but rather a result of high competition in the job market.
In response to a rejection, take the time to assess your application materials and interview performance. Make sure to seek feedback if possible.
Finally, stay persistent and continue applying to relevant positions.
You Need to Develop Resilience
Building resilience can help you navigate the difficulties of job hunting as a new grad nurse.
Maintain a positive attitude and focus on what you can control in the job search process, such as tailoring your resume and preparing for interviews.
Surround yourself with supportive people and engage in self-care activities to mitigate stress. Finding a job takes time, and every rejection is an opportunity to learn.
As a new grad nurse, it’s important to remember the initial years might be difficult.
However, with experience and dedication, the transition into the nursing profession becomes smoother.