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Tips for Getting your First Nursing Job

Whether you’re still contemplating whether to pursue a nursing degree or have just completed your Registered Nurse (RN) licensure exam, you’re interested in a nursing career - and of course, securing a first nursing job is necessary to make this goal come to life. But of course, that process can present its own set of challenges.

Though nursing school obviously prepares you for a wide variety of needs, work settings, roles, and skilled tasks, it doesn’t always give you everything you need to confidently nail that first nursing position. Here are a few quick tips that can aid you in that process.

Think about an accelerated nursing program

Image for part: Think about an accelerated nursing program

If you are still deciding what nursing program you’ll enroll in, it’s important to be aware of accelerated programs that can cut the time required for earning a nursing degree by a significant amount. Some Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs require just 16 months to complete. Even better, choosing an online ABSN program means that you can complete your course remotely, and without having to drop your current lifestyle or responsibilities. Compared to a standard BSN program length of four years, enrolling in an accelerated program means you can expedite your experience and be employable literally years faster than those who engage in traditional four-year programs.

Get feedback on your resume

 If you’re the only one who ever sees your resume before you send it on to prospective employers, it is almost guaranteed that it won’t be as strong or successful as it could be with some fine-tuning. It might sound intimidating or vulnerable, but the more you let others give you feedback on your resume, the better off you’ll be in the long run. If you can, ask a professional or two who have experience with nursing jobs, or medical careers in general, to look over your resume and provide feedback. Their insights will help you catch any mistakes and formatting inconsistencies, make sure your resume includes elements that medical hiring managers would expect or need, and give you advice for any ways they might adjust it to better match industry expectations. Everyone who studies nursing should have at least one professional (a teacher, mentor, or peer) in their network to ask for this kind of help. But when you don’t know or have access to medical professionals, this exercise can still be supremely helpful. Ask any seasoned professional in your life for a second opinion. The more you are willing to put yourself and your work in front of others before it counts, the more likely your resume will perform well by getting you the interviews you really want when you start looking for nursing positions.

Leverage your contacts

Just like almost any industry, securing a nursing position can often be just as dependent on personal connections, relationships, and network as it is on a rock-solid resume or how your candidacy looks on paper. This is important to be aware of from the start of your schooling. Being proactive in building networking relationships with your peers, teachers, professors, and administration can help you hear of openings, gain recommendations or references, or prepare for interviews down the line. Of course, don’t view these relationships as one-sided - be prepared to help others as well in their searches for job opportunities or recommendation letters. If you can do this right, learning how to build and leverage a professional network can be one of the most important skills you can learn and prove hugely valuable throughout your career.

Don’t be afraid to reach out

 It can be discouraging to submit resumes and applications into online job portals. Oftentimes you receive little or no replies. It can be a painstakingly slow process. Some of the best job search secrets fall along the lines of making a personal connection whenever possible. Though it takes a little bit more work, doing some personal reconnaissance for each job you apply to and sending out an actual, personal connection of some kind to the person responsible for hiring for that position can often speed your job application process. This might look like finding individuals on LinkedIn or other online platforms that you can message about your candidacy. Any time a hiring manager’s name or email address is included in a job posting, send an email or message. This might also look like visiting the premises if it’s local and asking to speak to the person in charge of hiring. Even when those connections and personal reach-outs don’t result in winning the job, they can still expand your network and perhaps open up even bigger opportunities down the line.

Now that you’re armed and ready with strategies to speed your process, enter the nursing job search with confidence and enjoy the first steps of your nursing career!

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