Your nursing program was a journey with many steps along the way — receiving your degree, passing the NCLEX and earning your RN license.
Congratulations! But the real journey — your first nursing job — is still ahead.
If you’re like most new graduate nurses, you worry about surviving the school-to-work transition you have heard so much about, and you have a lot of questions.
- Will I be good at my job?
- Will I fit in, do well, feel valued and be successful?
- What if I make a mistake?
There’s no doubt getting your first nursing job is a big and important step that can set you on a great career path. Finding a job, however, is only the first of two big things you need to think about as you move through this once-in-a-career period between nursing school and work.
The second thing is making sure the first nursing job you get is the right one.
You’ve worked hard, earned good grades and became an RN. It’s time to get out into the job market and land that first job.
Narrow your job search
The marketplace is waiting for you and, if you haven’t already gotten out there, it’s time.
An important question to answer is whether you really know what you need to know. If this is your first career and first job hunt, the answer is you need to know a lot.
Begin your first nursing job hunt by doing some research.
- Bring yourself up to date on the nursing job market.
- Network with nurses you know from school.
- Talk with your past professors.
- Visit some online chat rooms with other new nurse grads.
- Study what’s trending with jobs in your area and ones in areas you would consider relocating to for your first nursing job.
- Take a look at local professional nursing organizations and think about joining one.
- Make some decisions on where you want to work, what kind of role you want, and the salary and benefits you require.
After you’ve accomplished some of these preliminaries, get your thoughts together and make a who, what and where list of your questions, such as:
- Who was your best resource for information and advice?
- What kind of family and lifestyle needs fit best with your choice of specialty, shift, role or facility?
- Where are the best places for you to work and live, and have you narrowed your search down enough?
Each of you will have a different list because finding the right job is not a cookie-cutter exercise. Each one is personal and unique.
Think outside the hospital setting
Don’t forget there are some great roles and interesting positions in areas outside the hospital setting. Some examples are nursing homes, community medical clinics, academic nurse writers and case managers.
This Nurse Journal article shares more ideas for alternative nursing jobs you might want to consider.
Plus, the Cleveland Clinic refers to today’s new graduate nurse recruitment and hiring market as “competitive,” which means you can be selective about which jobs you decide to apply for and accept.
There’s no question you’ll find surprises along the way to starting your first nursing job.
Remember there are many ways to approach your search, so stay versatile. And this is your career and your first nursing job. So, do it your way.
“Deciding on the best nursing job is about assessing your personal goals and determining what you want from a nursing career,” according to the blog LoveToKnow.
10 tips to find your first nursing job
- Find a mentor to help with your job hunt. You will always remember this person as being key to your success.
- Don’t believe everything you hear about the job market or allow any of it to become a stumbling block.
- Get noticed by joining a nursing organization, starting another degree or earning a nurse certification.
- Look for professional help with your resume and figure out what will make it (and you!) stand out from the crowd.
- Listen carefully to what interviewers seek, and don’t be afraid to ask what you can do to provide it.
- Don’t narrow your job possibilities to one role. Keep an open mind about different settings and specialties.
- Be persistent, but patient. If hospitals near you aren’t hiring new grads, expand your horizon beyond acute care.
- Remember that during each interview you are there because there’s a position to fill — and you can be the one to fill it.
- Be grateful for every interview you get, whether it ends in an offer or not. You’ll learn something of value from each one.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone has doors closed on them before the best one opens.
Take these courses related to your first nursing job:
Interviewing for Career Advancement
(1 contact hr)
Whether you’re a staff nurse, a manager, or an advanced practice nurse, interviewing is an important opportunity to market yourself for career advancement. Whether you’re interviewing for a new position, starting a new career, or seeking a promotion, the key to a successful interview is careful and thorough preparation. If two candidates have almost equal qualifications, it may not be the most qualified, but the best-prepared candidate who gets the offer. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be chosen over the competition. This continuing education program will enhance nurses’ ability to prepare for and participate in job interviews.
Starting Your Career as an Advanced Practice RN
(1 contact hr)
The current healthcare environment offers new opportunities and a growing demand for advanced practice registered nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing describes four types of nurses who are considered APRNs: certified nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists. The scope of practice for APRNs varies from state to state. This module will provide initial guidance to an RN who is interested in returning to school to attain an advanced degree and transition to become an APRN.
Networking for Career Advancement
(1 contact hr)
Networking is one of the most important career-building tools available to any professional, including nurses. So whether a nurse is hunting for a job, seeking a promotion, running for office, starting a business, seeking consultative work, pursuing higher education, entering public service or writing for publication, networking is an effective sales and marketing strategy for building a positive power base to attain long- and short-term career goals. This educational activity will provide guidance on networking for career advancement.