Landing your first nursing job can be both an exciting and daunting experience.

As a recent graduate, you’ve completed your nursing education and passed the NCLEX.

But now comes the challenge of finding the perfect position to kick-start your career.

How to Get Your First Nursing Job?

Confidence and determination are critical to a successful job search. Know the nursing position you want, use effective search strategies, network with industry professionals, and prepare for interviews. This will maximize your chances of landing your ideal job.

Below I will break down the steps you can use to land a job that will ideally set you up in the long run.

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  • IV Insertion
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Just to name a few.

1. first, a Reality Check

It may be surprising, but students can be sheltered from the realities of the real world.

Some may be used to getting their way in certain aspects, and those who excel academically may receive preferential treatment within their educational institution.

However, the professional world does not always operate in this manner.

It is crucial to approach job hunting with practicality and a systematic approach.

It is important not to take opportunities for granted and not to become complacent simply because good grades have been achieved.

You will find the rules are stricter, competition is greater, and stakes are higher than before. You need to go the extra mile to get your desired job.

Nurse Money Talk

2. Finding the Right Job

With over a hundred different nursing specialties, the job landscape is as diverse as it is exciting.

This breadth of choice can be overwhelming for new nursing graduates.

You might be tempted to either apply to every entry-level position that comes your way or find yourself immobilized by the paradox of choice, unsure of where to start.

Neither approach fully harnesses your potential. Here’s why.

Each nursing role is unique and demands distinct skills, aptitudes, and preferences to thrive in its specific environment.

The solution? Take time to explore and evaluate the specialties that pique your interest.

Find Your Ideal Work Setting

Do you see yourself working in a bustling hospital, a community clinic, an educational institution, or perhaps a healthcare agency?

Envisioning your ideal workspace can help narrow down your options.

Evaluate Your Qualifications and Experience

Take an honest look at your qualifications and work experience.

Do they align with the employer’s requirements? If not, what steps can you take to bridge the gap?

Visualize Yourself in the Role

Can you picture yourself thriving in this role?

It’s more than just the daily duties; consider the work culture, the team dynamics, the learning opportunities, and the growth potential.

This process does more than streamline your job applications—it helps you create a clear and focused career roadmap.

Understanding your interests and aligning them with your career choices is a powerful step toward finding fulfilling and rewarding roles in nursing.

Related: 10 Awesome Nursing Jobs For New Grads

3. Craft a Clear Checklist of Priorities

nursing student typing on computer

Embarking on your job hunt without a well-thought-out plan can lead to detours and pitfalls.

A defined strategy is crucial to prevent time wasted on unsuitable roles or misunderstandings from ambiguous job descriptions.

Creating a checklist is an effective method to keep your career objectives in sight and maintain alignment with your personal growth goals.

Here are some pivotal questions your checklist should address:

Identify Your Learning Objectives

What specific skills and experiences do you hope to gain from your first job? Are you seeking to acquire specialized knowledge or to broaden your general nursing skills?

Align with Your Future Goals

How does this role align with your long-term career goals? Does it provide the necessary foundation or stepping stones for future progress?

Define Your Income Expectations

What is your expected income range? Are there specific benefits or allowances that are important to you?

By addressing these points, you can outline a job profile that suits your career goals.

For Example:

If you know your long-term goal is to become a nurse anesthetist, then you should probably be looking for ER or ICU nursing positions.

4. Build Your Network

Networking is frequently touted as a cornerstone of successful career development.


Because cultivating relationships within your industry not only provides invaluable insights into the inner workings of the field but can also offer you a competitive edge.

Here’s how networking can work to your advantage:

Boost Your Profile with Personal Recommendations

An influential contact in your network may vouch for your abilities and potential, elevating your status in the eyes of potential employers.

Gain Insider Tips

Seasoned professionals can share their wisdom, including crucial tips and strategies to ace nursing job interviews.

Discover Hidden Opportunities

Informed network contacts often know about job openings before they are publicly announced, helping you stay one step ahead of the competition.

Even if these opportunities don’t immediately present themselves, having connections within the nursing community is highly beneficial. 

Experienced nurses can support you through periods of unemployment, share valuable resources, and offer practical advice to help you stay resilient in the face of challenges.

Seek to build relationships with senior nursing students, professors at your nursing school, guidance counselors, and members of professional organizations.

In Layman’s Terms:

Connecting with other nurses will create opportunities for you that you might not have had otherwise.

In addition, share your career aspirations with your broader social circle. You never know when a friend or family member might know someone who knows someone who’s hiring.

Remember, your network isn’t just a ladder to your next job—it’s a community of professionals who can support and guide you throughout your nursing career. 

So, reach out, connect, and build relationships that not only help you grow but also contribute to your professional journey.

5. Look Everywhere For the Right Job

student typing on computer

What’s the best strategy for landing a nursing job as a fresh graduate? The answer lies in diversifying your search channels. 

Relying solely on top online nursing job boards can limit your exposure to potential opportunities.

Broaden your approach to include local hospital websites, national nursing job boards, and the private sector.

This tactic not only expands your reach but also offers a broader perspective on the various opportunities at your disposal.

Doing so allows you to glean important insights about your chosen field.

Insights such as getting a sense of the average salary for a specific specialty, the required qualifications, and other logistics like work hours, training, and responsibilities.


I mention this briefly, but don’t be afraid to tap into your former nursing programs alumni list.

Don’t be afraid to ask your nursing instructors. Don’t be afraid to ask your preceptors during your school clinicals.

Finding your first nursing job after graduation may be difficult, depending on your job market.

This is why you should utilize every option available to you.

Refine Your Search

Remember the checklist you created earlier? It’s time to put it to good use.

Filter out roles that don’t align with your goals and refine your search using specific keywords to identify the jobs that resonate with your profile.

Once you’ve identified these opportunities, it’s time to start sending out applications.

In essence, embarking on a nursing job hunt is akin to casting a wide net.

The broader your search, the higher your chances of capturing the perfect opportunity.

So, extend your reach, keep your eyes open, and always be ready to seize potential openings that come your way.

Find Your Next Nursing Job
Use the NurseMoneyTalk job board to look for and apply to great nursing jobs near you.

6. Craft the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter

Begin your resume with your contact details.

Ensure you provide a professional email address and set up an appropriate voicemail for recruiters to leave messages.

Highlight your qualifications next. List your degree, the university you graduated from, and your graduation year.

If you achieved a high GPA, don’t hesitate to showcase it! Then, move on to your clinical experiences.

Mention the medical departments you’ve trained in and the variety of patients you’ve assisted. Include any notable internships or unique cases that you’ve been part of.

Finally, mention any certifications, awards, or honors that you’ve achieved during your nursing education.

These additions provide the extra sparkle to your resume.

To help you out, here’s a guide on how to write a new grad nurse resume.

I walk you step by step on how to create one.

If you want examples of a new nurse resume, you can also just go to the previously linked article.

On the other hand, if you just want someone to write a resume or cover letter for you, this company can do that as well for a small fee.

Cover Letter: Your Personal Story

As for the cover letter, it gives you the platform to bring your professional experiences to life.

For instance, you could discuss how your experience volunteering at a local health camp ignited your passion for community health and how this aligns with the mission of the hospital you’re applying to.

This personal touch can help forge a deeper connection with your potential employer.

Here’s a guide on how to write a new grad nurse cover letter.

7. Ace the Interview

woman conducting interview

Once your documents are ready, it’s time to prep for the next crucial phase: the interview.

This is where your professionalism needs to shine.

Research the Facility

Prior to the interview, take time to understand the healthcare institution’s mission, values, and specifics of the role you’re eyeing.

For instance, if you’re applying for a role in a hospital known for its outstanding cardiac care, brush up on your knowledge in this area.

Look Up Example Nursing Interview Questions

Look up some nursing interview questions with example answers.

Articles like the one I linked to will give you example questions that could be asked during a nursing interview.

You’ll also get example answers and what the interviewer is generally looking for.

The goal is for you to rehearse some answers and get confident answering these questions.

During the interview, be prepared to discuss how you’d handle different scenarios, as this demonstrates your decision-making skills.

For Example

Imagine a scenario where you had a patient’s family member that was upset over the care their loved one was receiving.

How would you handle it?

Demonstrating your thought process for such complex situations can showcase your competency to potential employers.

At the End of the Interview

It’s common for interviewers to ask the candidate whether they have any questions regarding the job position.

Take this opportunity to clear your doubts and gain more information from employers.

Also, this is the ideal moment to ask them when and how they’ll inform you about the results.

If you don’t know what questions you should ask, here are some of the questions that should be asked at the end of a healthcare interview.

After the Interview

Make sure to send a thank-you note after the interview.

Sending a follow-up message after a meeting is a great way to leave a positive impression and gently remind them of your interest in the position.

8. Building a Solid Backup Plan

Aim high. Aim for that dream nursing job, we’re rooting for you. But, keep in mind, the field of nursing can be a competitive arena.

Certain specialties often see higher competition, with many aspiring nurses vying for limited positions.

That’s why it’s smart to prepare a Plan B, a safety net to fall back on, should you need it.

Having this strategy does not mean you lack faith in your abilities.

On the contrary, it shows your adaptability and foresight, qualities every successful nurse needs.

So, let’s explore some possibilities for your backup plan:

A. Consider Nurse Residency Programs

Nurse residency positions are a fantastic starting point.

They offer structured and supervised experiences, allowing you to learn, grow, and excel in a supportive environment.

B. Expand Your Job Applications

Broaden your perspective.

There are numerous nursing roles out there that might not be your first choice but could serve as stepping stones to your ultimate career goal.

C. Dabble in Different Specialties

Be open to different nursing specialties.

You might start in a field that’s not your first choice, but with time and experience, you can transition into your preferred specialty.

This could also surprise you by revealing an unexpected passion for a previously overlooked specialty.

Remember, every experience is an opportunity to grow and learn.

Each nursing role you undertake enriches you and brings you one step closer to your dream job.

There’s no one-size-fits-all route in nursing, and sometimes the road less traveled leads to the most rewarding destinations.

9: What To Do When You Can’t Find Anything Or Don’t Know Where to Start

woman looking at computer sad

Finding your footing in the professional world can be tricky when you’re a new nursing grad.

Perhaps you’re eyeing a hospital that doesn’t seem to have any job openings, or you’re unsure about carving out your career path.

It’s perfectly normal to face these uncertainties, and it’s perfectly okay to ask for help.

Reach Out to Your Nursing School

Your nursing school is a treasure trove of resources.

They’ve seen hundreds of students navigate this path successfully before you. Leverage their experience and insight to smooth your way.

Engage with HR Departments

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the HR departments of your target healthcare institutions.

They can provide invaluable insights about job postings on their website, including when to expect new ones.

Engaging with HR departments can help you stay updated and proactive in your job search.

Explore Local Healthcare Facilities

Sometimes, all it takes is a little on-the-ground research. Visit local healthcare facilities and speak with the administration.

This proactive approach can often lead to discovering job openings before they’re even advertised.

The key takeaway here is not to shy away from asking questions. Each question asked is a step closer to the answer you seek.

Moreover, it can open up new pathways and offer fresh perspectives on tackling the challenges you’re facing.

10. Keep Learning Even After Getting the Job

In the world of nursing, learning is a constant process that extends far beyond the job interview.

Excelling in the field requires an ongoing commitment to developing and sharpening your clinical skills.

Join Professional Nursing Organizations

Becoming a member of a professional nursing organization connects you with a community of like-minded professionals.

These associations offer abundant opportunities for networking, mentorship, and learning.

Attend Workshops and Earn Certifications

Regularly participating in industry-specific workshops and earning additional certifications not only broadens your knowledge base but also underscores your dedication to the profession.

These achievements could potentially elevate your career prospects.

Stay Abreast with Healthcare Guidelines

Keeping up to date with the latest healthcare guidelines ensures your practice remains compliant, effective, and in the best interest of patient care.

Participate in Continued Nursing Education

Engaging in continued nursing education provides an environment to apply theoretical knowledge to practical, real-world scenarios.

For instance, by participating in a sepsis training program, you can enhance your proficiency in identifying and managing this serious condition.

Onward to Success: Charting Your Nursing Career

The field of nursing, while competitive, offers rewarding opportunities.

With numerous graduates competing for similar roles, an effective strategy can set you apart.

Just as important as your success in finding your first nursing job is your success in your nursing job. This is where the new nurse academy comes in.

The new nurse academy is designed to guide you in your nursing career, providing knowledge, resources, and tools you need to excel.

It bridges the gap between nursing school and clinical practice.

Check out what I mean, and start your FREE trial Today.

New Nurse Academy
Trusted by 430,000+ future nurses and new nurses everywhere. Check out the course that helps new nurses bridge the gap and transition smoothly to becoming nurses.

Related Articles

Here are some other articles on getting your first job after nursing school.

For your next read, I would recommend the article that discusses just how hard getting your first job will be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some faqs on everything you need to know to land your first nursing job.

The average salary for a new nurse is $65,746 a year. Keep in mind that this will vary significantly depending on what state, city, hospital, and nursing specialty.

To secure a nursing job as a new graduate, start by researching and narrowing down the specific type of nursing role you’re interested in. Be open to entry-level positions and be flexible with your preferences. Build a strong resume and cover letter tailored for each position you apply for. Network with professionals in the healthcare field, attend job fairs, and use online job portals to find potential opportunities. Additionally, consider participating in internships or volunteering during your nursing program to gain experience and develop relationships with potential employers.

It’s best to start applying for jobs during your final semester of nursing school. This allows you to focus on your studies while also planning for your future employment. However, begin networking, researching potential employers, and attending job fairs earlier in your nursing program to better position yourself for job opportunities after graduation.

To stand out in the job application process, create a well-organized and targeted resume and cover letter that highlight your accomplishments, skills, and experiences relevant to the specific nursing role. Customize your application materials for each job opportunity. Obtain strong references from instructors, clinical supervisors, or other healthcare professionals who can vouch for your abilities as a nurse. Additionally, showcase any voluntary work, certifications, or internships that can demonstrate your commitment to the profession.

Nursing fields that tend to be more welcoming to new graduates include long-term care facilities, home health care, and medical-surgical nursing units. However, this can vary depending on your location and the current job market. Research and network within the specific nursing fields you’re interested in to understand the local demand and job market conditions.

Utilize a variety of resources for your nursing job search, such as online job boards, professional nursing organizations, your nursing school’s career services or alumni network, and social media platforms like LinkedIn. Attend job fairs, network with healthcare professionals, and reach out to your clinical instructors or supervisors for potential job leads. Don’t hesitate to leverage any personal connections in the healthcare field as well.

To prepare for a successful interview, research the employer and be familiar with the job duties and requirements. Practice answering common nursing interview questions, focusing on providing clear, concise answers that highlight your relevant experience, skills, and knowledge. Prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer about the role, organization, or work environment. Dress professionally, arrive early, and be confident during the interview. Additionally, follow up with a thank-you email expressing your continued interest in the position and appreciation for the opportunity to interview.

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