Ten Tips to Getting Hired for Nursing Graduates


Recent statistics and news stories lead people to believe that there is no current nursing shortage. Nothing could be further from the truth.  I say this despite having friends who have been unable to find employment as nurses.

New graduates are frustrated since employers are not hiring. Nurses in the workforce are frustrated due to working without enough staff.

All statisticians agree that the nursing workforce is aging. At least one million nurses will be retiring within the next ten years. In addition, as baby boomers age, the need for nurses will increase dramatically.

However, at this time, health care organizations are feeling a budget crunch. Nurses are needed, but positions are not being filled due to financial setbacks and fears. When jobs are posted, employers seek to hire experienced nurses as new graduates take longer to orient. Orientation of new graduates is costly.

What can a nursing student or new grad do to increase the chances of getting hired?

  1. Be proactive while still in school. Form relationships with nurses during your clinical rotations. If your nursing school affords you the opportunity to select your internship, choose one with an agency which you think may be a good place to work. Go above and beyond, especially during internships. Do your homework. Do not just use the internship organization as just a place to learn. View it as a potential source of employment. Let your dedication, and skills shine while you are there. Become a valuable part of the organization while you are interning.
  2. Work as a nurses’ aid, phlebotomist, or in another capacity at local health organization while you are still in school. Employers need ancillary staff. You will gain real world experience and get your foot in the door of potential companies. Training for nurses’ aids and phlebotomists is relatively inexpensive and quick.
  3. Consider relocation after graduation to areas which do not have shortages. This may be your greatest opportunity to have a big adventure.
  4. Be flexible. You may not want to work nights or per diem, but you will gain experience which will serve you in all types of nursing. You will have some income at least.
  5. Be a volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to explore a variety of health care opportunities.  Work on a blood drive, sit with hospice patients, or provide companionship at an agency which serves developmentally delayed clients. You may discover your passion. Volunteer work looks great on a resume. Nurses are needed in settings that you may not have previously considered.
  6. Join nursing organizations. You will have opportunities to meet and communicate with nurses from all over the nation. You may learn of employment opportunities or strategies which helped other nurses to get hired. Be active in the organizations. Most professional nursing groups have student forums or benefit from having input from new grads.
  7. Have a well polished resume handy at all times. If you are volunteering or working as an intern, personally deliver it to human resources or the person who makes hiring decisions. You have more experience and skills than you realize. Be honest. Do not overstate your qualifications, but be sure that you do not overlook your best qualities either.
  8. Do your homework prior to applying for employment. Learn as much as you can about the company. Become familiar with the company values and vision.
  9. Dress for success when going to an interview. A business suit is essential. You want to look like a professional not a college student. Be forthright during the interview. If you do not know something, say so. Ask questions about the mission of the organization. Follow up with a note or telephone call, thanking the interviewer for his or her time.
  10. Health care budgets and employment opportunities fluctuate regularly. Keep checking employer and regional job posting sites so that if a vacancy arises, you will be among the first to apply.

Finding employment is stressful and challenging at any time. In the current job market, it can be very discouraging. You have valuable skills which will serve you and those you work for well all of the rest of your life.

Take time out from your job search to take care of yourself. Go for a walk in nature, spend time with friends, and play with the dog. Do what you need to maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit. You will find employment. It may take time, and many steps, but eventually, you will find your niche.

Above all, do not be overwhelmed by statistics and news stories. A recent story which stressed out nursing students nationwide regarding availability of jobs only reflected the views of 1500 nurses in one state. Regional differences in employment opportunities are great.  Opportunities are available. Even if you have to take a non nursing job temporarily to pay the bills, that is just fodder for your resume. Skills that you acquire in other fields are useful in nursing as well. Pretty soon you will be on your way to a long nursing career.

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Patricia Bratianu

Patricia has been a Registered Nurse for almost forty years in a wide variety of settings. As a Registered Nurse, she realized that conventional healthcare was not meeting the needs of all patients. She became an herbalist and obtained a PhD in Natural Health. Patricia is a professional member of the American Herbalist’s Guild, passing the stringent peer reviewed process to become a Registered Herbalist.