If you are a new nurse seeking your first job, you may run into an age-old problem: you need a job to get experience, but nobody will hire you because you have no experience. In particular, large acute-care hospitals often require one to two years of experience for many nursing jobs.
New nurses with associate degrees and diplomas have more trouble finding entry-level employment than new BSN nurses, according to the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). An August 2015 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that 83.5 percent of employers strongly prefer BSN-prepared nurses and 47.4 percent require their new hires to have BSNs.
If you want to add to your credentials, an online RN to BSN program is a great option. Online programs offer advanced skills that may lead to more job opportunities. As the trend in nursing moves toward specialization, a BSN will become increasingly necessary.
According to Nurse Together, “Nursing students must gain experience while they are in school and establish themselves as a valuable and visible contributor in the eyes of hiring managers.” The article goes on to suggest that students and graduates should find employers that use succession planning and that hire and train new nurses each semester.
You can also apply for a nurse residency program or internship. NSNA recommends that you consider taking a residency or internship even if it is not in your area of interest and pays less than other jobs. “Being employed as a nurse is your highest priority.”
While nursing jobs in acute care settings located in larger cities may be hard to get without experience, other options are available. Clinical settings where new nurses can find jobs include outpatient clinics, nursing homes, substance abuse treatment centers and group homes for foster care or developmental disabilities. Small, rural hospitals tend to be more open to hiring new nurses as well.
NSNA also suggests looking at other ways to obtain clinical experience such as international jobs, research with a mentor, mission work and volunteer positions.
Job Search Tips
Regardless of your education and experience, you must present yourself in a professional manner that stands out among other job applicants. Nurse Beth, a former nurse manager who writes at nursecode.com, recommends the following:
- Customize your resume for each potential employer. Use the language and keywords that the employer uses in the job description.
- Give your resume a clean, neat, easy-to-read layout with generous white space. One page is enough. It must be free of mistakes.
- Highlight your relevant accomplishments, volunteer work, projects, and honors that show how your skills match the employer’s needs. Use specific examples of what you have done. Avoid clichÃ©s such as “detail oriented.”
- Write a creative cover letter for each application. Draw the hiring manager in with your personal story and how it makes you a great choice for the job.
- Network with everyone. It is the best way to find a job.
As for the interview, Nurse Beth says interviewers are looking to see if you are safe and if you fit in. Safe means you can answer the clinical questions. Fitting in, on the other hand, “is about projecting warmth, openness, and learnability.”
Getting your first nursing job might be a challenge. Be prepared to work your way up to your dream job as you gain experience. If you want more nursing jobs to choose from, an online RN to BSN program can prepare you for a broader scope of practice.
Learn about the Lamar University online RN to BSN program.
Retrieved from 10 Steps to Getting Hired as a New Grad Nurse. (2015, March 20).
Retrieved from Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses. (n.d.).
Retrieved from Expectations for Practice Experiences in the RN to Baccalaureate Curriculum. (n.d.).
Retrieved from Stringer, Heather. (2015, September 14). Nursing job market heating up.
Retrieved from Nichols, Russell. (2015, August 25). Plight Of the Novice Nurse.
Retrieved from Realities of the Current Job Market.
Retrieved from Thomas, Lisa Mauri. (2013, January 21). The Current Hiring Landscape on Nursing Jobs.