How To Get That First Nursing Job: 5 Marketing Tips for New RN Grads

The job seeker with interview boardOne of the the first concepts I learned at the start of my nursing education was, “discharge planning begins at admission.” That is true and it holds true in the school setting as well. You should start planning how to find a job as a nurse the day you start nursing school…if not before. So whether you are in your freshman year or this is the summer before your last year of school here are some tips for securing the job you want after graduation.
  1. Get a job– Consider being a nursing assistant. Look at the message boards at school and check out your local hospital and nursing home personnel offices. You are likely to find jobs specifically geared toward nursing students.
  2. Volunteer-Whether you volunteer at a hospital, with your church, local school or community center helping with health screenings or go on medically based mission trips the experience is irreplaceable. It also demonstrates to potential employers you have a passion for and commitment to your future career path.
  3. Join up-Get involved in organizations. Participate in your school’s chapter of the National Student Nurse Association. It will provide opportunities for networking; the national convention is a great way to meet representatives from employers all over the country and a way to network with other nursing students. If your grades are high enough and you are invited, become part of Sigma Theta Tau. Most specialty nursing organizations like AMSN (Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses) and AORN(Association of Operating Room Nurses) and the like have student memberships available. The magazines alone are worth the price of membership. They offer insight into the latest issues in the chosen specialty and often have advertisements for job availability.
  4. Keep your grades up-Good grades count. They show commitment and attention to details.
  5. Be prepared-Have an up-to-date resume with correct grammar and spelling. Have an interview suit and shoes clean and ready-to-wear. Have a watch and be on time, whether volunteering, working or attending an event—people notice. If offered an interview, accept no matter what the job. Interviewing is an art and it gets easier with experience (and make sure your cell phone is on mute). Shake hands, say please and thank you and follow-up with a written thank you note. Anything that makes you stand out in a positive manner makes you memorable and gives you a greater chance of being hired for that coveted position.

There is now and there will always be a need for nurses. Just as the economy fluctuates so does the number of jobs available. Your job as  a nursing student is to build yourself into a marketable product…the bright, new, enthusiastic nursing graduate excited by the challenges of joining an organization and being their most productive new hire. You gotta make yourself look good.

You also want to keep an open mind. Not all nursing jobs are in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Be open to alternative employers like schools, camps, public health clinics, rehabs or local health departments. All of these are great learning and growth opportunities.

My final tip: stay positive, nursing is a great career!

6 Responses to “How To Get That First Nursing Job: 5 Marketing Tips for New RN Grads”

  1. Elizabeth Scala
    July 15, 2013 at 10:47 AM #

    Awesome post! I wish I had this information when I was in nursing school. Was totally not a joiner, did not get a job related to nursing, etc. These are great tips and I am sure these resources pay off. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us in this way! I learned a lot!!

  2. Erica MacDonald
    July 15, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

    Great practical advice! My favorite tip was about accepting every interview for practice as the art of interviewing is a skill. Also, you are right about using basic polite manners. I am always shocked when interacting with the public, as it does not seem to be commonplace anymore!

  3. Kevin Ross
    July 16, 2013 at 10:20 AM #

    Good points Jennifer. Not all of the nursing jobs will be in a hospital. There are MANY non-traditional settings that need nurses, and these settings can still help you gain tremendous experience in the field.

  4. Click This Link
    September 11, 2013 at 9:35 PM #

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  5. Rachael
    August 25, 2014 at 11:33 PM #

    Hi Jennifer. I enjoyed this post. I am a 13-year veteran journalist who, like you, started in newspapers and ended up writing for a medical trade magazine. I still freelance, but I’ve been going back to school for about a year now and finally start my nursing clinicals next week. I am VERY nervous. Not only have I never worked in a healthcare field, but I worry about being able to get a job with an ADN versus a BSN. I also have two boys, ages 2 and 4, and I worry about what my time in nursing school will mean to them. So many things running through my head, not to mention anxiety over actually working with patients. Hopefully you have a few more words of advice for encouragement you can share?


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