The reason why a lot of people choose to go to nursing school can be summed up in two words: job security. Not every college degree offers the benefit of easily finding work shortly after graduating like nursing does. Not to mention, nurses are always needed so you’d be hard pressed to find any nurse who’s short on job options.
As scary as it may feel, it is important to remember that you will find a job after graduating, but it may take more than one try to find your first job and that is perfectly fine. I personally believe that if you don’t get a certain job, it wasn’t meant to be. This article will break down everything you need to know about how to get a job as a new grad RN.
How to Get a Nursing Job with No Experience
You may graduate from nursing school with a job offer already lined up, or you may decide to wait until after graduation and your board exams to start looking for work. Obviously it can be reassuring to nail down a job offer well in advance and not have to worry about applying for jobs after graduating, but even if you don’t have your job figured out ahead of time this is totally okay too. You will find a job at some point and all of your hard work will eventually pay off.
This is how most nurses will go about finding their first job after nursing school:
- View job postings online or visit a job fair at your local hospital or university.
- Fill out applications and send in your resume. Be sure to highlight all of your skills and think about what makes you a unique candidate.
- Attend an interview for the position. Every job will have their interview process set up a little differently but it never hurts to do some interview preparation.
- Sit back and wait for your first job offer!
Remember, if you don’t get the first job you interview for, it’s okay. Even if you had your heart set on a certain job, it might have just not been meant to be. Any nursing job will provide you with experience and knowledge, which makes for a great stepping stone to move on from if your first job isn’t exactly what you had in mind.
I recommend staying with your first job for at least a year if you can before applying anywhere else. This gives you time to adjust, and it will look better on future job applications than if you leave quickly.
How Hard is it to Get a Nursing Job Right Out of School?
According to one study, 76% of new nursing graduates had a job offer at the time of graduating. In my experience, I saw all of my 33 classmates get jobs after graduating — and we all spent plenty of time worrying that we would never get jobs! So, the moral of the story is that you will find a job after graduating, even if you don’t have one lined up right away.
I actually waited a couple of months after graduating to start looking for nursing jobs. I frequently went through stages when I would worry that I’d never find a job since I was waiting rather than being more proactive. However, once I started applying to nursing jobs, I quickly found a position in a med-surg unit where I ended up working for almost a year.
Tips for Applying for Your First Nursing Jobs
Once you start looking for your first nursing jobs, you’ll want to be mindful about your process. Here are a few tips for applying to your first jobs.
Get your resume in order
Obviously, your resume is one of the most important documents because you will use it to apply to all nursing jobs. Try to get some expert advice from the career department at your university or do some research on how you should organize your resume. Be sure to highlight any important skills you have that you gained throughout nursing school. Include your clinical experience and any community outreach you’ve done.
Take your time on applications
Don’t rush through applications. Sit down and work slowly on them to ensure that you complete them in their entirety with no grammatical errors. You’ll increase your odds of finding a job if you apply for many different positions; just make sure that you’re applying to jobs that you actually want.
Prepare for the interviews
Go through some practice questions to prepare for your interview or you can even try a mock interview. Make sure that you have some professional clothing for your interview that is also comfortable. You may want to do some of the same preparations you did for your initial interview to get into nursing school.
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Talk to nurses you already know
When it comes to deciding where you want to work, it can be helpful to ask other nurses about where they work to get some recommendations. You can also ask your interviewers to take you on a walk around the unit when you’re at the facility for your interview. Try to get a feel for what it would be like to work there by observing the other nurses.
Types of Nursing Jobs that Don’t Require Experience
Once you become a registered nurse, your job options are anything but limited. There are a variety of routes you can take when starting your career as an RN, many of which go beyond the typical hospital nursing job. Below, I’ve listed some nursing jobs that typically don’t require experience.
Many nurses from my graduating class took the route of a nurse residency. Nurse residencies offer jobs to new graduates with additional training and even some classroom time. This is a great way to go directly into a specialty such as working in intensive care, labor & delivery, or the emergency room, because the additional training can help boost your confidence and better prepare you for a more specialized role. Most nurse residencies require nurses to sign a contract for at least a year and sometimes up to three, so this is an important consideration as well.
If you’re hoping to bypass a residency, it may be challenging to find a job on a specialized unit right out of school. This is why many nurses start their careers in a med-surg unit. This type of unit typically hires entry level nurses and has patients who are the least critical out of anyone in the hospital. Med-surg nursing offers the benefit of providing nurses with plenty of well-rounded knowledge, since you will likely see patients of all types on these floors. It is a great place to start as a new nurse because it provides a good foundation of knowledge. After a year or two on a med-surg unit, you will likely be able to find a job on just about any type of unit.
Home health nursing involves visiting patients in their homes. Typically these patients need help with medications, a wound dressing change, or IV antibiotics administered. As a home health nurse, part of your job is to monitor patients for changes in order to ensure that they don’t need to return to the hospital.
Skilled nursing facilities
Many new nurses also take the route of working in a skilled nursing facility. Skilled nursing facilities are similar to nursing homes but they typically don’t house patients for the long-term. Most patients in skilled nursing facilities are there for rehabilitation with the goal of eventually going home. As a new nurse, you can get a job at one of these facilities without any experience and it may actually pay better than a hospital (depending on where you live). One downside to working at a skilled nursing facility is that you may not develop the same level of skills you would at a hospital because the patients are in less critical condition.
Final Thoughts: No One Said It Would Be Easy
Just like getting through nursing school is an incredible challenge, so is adjusting to life as a new nurse. Remember: no one said it would be easy. Keep in mind that you’ve made it this far for a reason. Even if your first job doesn’t feel like the best fit, make the most of it by using it as an opportunity to hone your skills as a nurse and always remain patient and open-minded.
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