How to get a job as a new grad RN in this economyRegister Today!
- by haiyen Dec 7, '11hello fellow new grad nurses,
i graduated in may 2011 with a bsn and was so excited to move back from baltimore to los angeles hoping to find a job as a new grad nurse. in august 2011, i got accepted into the versant program at torrance memorial medical center. my dream came true. however, let me tell you that as much as this job fulfills my wish, my journey to land this position involved stress and tears. thus, i’m writing this to share with you new grad fellows some tips that i believe helped me survive through that time and made my dream come true. fyi, my article targets may graduates who are interested in hospital jobs in california. for those of you who have no connection in california, don’t worry and be persistent.
if you want a job in one of the crowded cities of california, you must be persistent and patient. the rest is up to your luck. you will or you have felt frustrated or have cried. you will or have probably wondered all of that hard work in nursing school is not worthy without a job. but you must have faith and believe in yourself. be a good person and you hard work will be paid off.
before nursing school graduation:
this is the time where you get your portfolio together. meaning you must have at least 2 letters of recommendation, one of which comes from a clinical instructor. ask your letter writers to write them soon, preferably before march because that is when hospitals start to recruit for their summer cohorts. ucla is one big example. choose a letter writer that will write about one full page of good stuffs about you. aim for at least one really really good letter.
write your resume. bring your resume to your career counselor. have people look over. almost all hospitals require you to submit a resume when you apply online. make sure that your resume follow the required format. for example, stanford requires a particular style that is demonstrated in the video on their website.
cover letter is also a must. write your cover letter and remember to personalize the letter. meaning spend at least one paragraph on something that is unique about the hospital that you are applying to. one tip is to look up at the hospital’s website. find their mission and goals. if there is a match, emphasize on that. you can also look up allnurses.com for people’s comments about the hospital you are applying to. show in your letter that you and the hospital are a strong fit.
make a list of hospitals you are interested in. get the recruiters’ contact info and save all in one file. i started my first application in february 2011. allnurses.com and facebook new grad rn group are the two excellent sources.
after nursing school graduation:
get your rn asap. it sounds better when the managers hear that “i am licensed” instead of “i will be licensed after i take the nclex on….”.
if you want a job badly like i did, check the hospital job listings at least once a day. make it a habit. everyday i woke up, the first thing i did was to check job listings, and that was how i got my interviews. call the recruiters and follow up. make an effort to call at least two recruiters a week about possible openings. trust me, persistence counts. i got a phone call for an interview for a internship from a hospital that rejected me at the first place. the recruiter saw how persistent i was because i emailed him five times about the position.
read allnurses.com and “california new grad rn” group on facebook at least 3 times a week. people post links about jobs all the time.
have the resume, cover letter, and letters of recommendation ready so you can submit them right away.
some hospitals require an essay so spend time write a generic essay about your passion to work as an rn. so when you need to submit an essay as a part of your application, modify the essay to fit with the hospital you are applying to.
preparing for an interview:
so your moment to shine is coming. the interview will determine whether you will continue the stressful job search or your dream come true.
practice, practice, and practice. but how to you practice? research, research, and research. look up the hospital. read allnurses.com, which is a wonderful and wonderful resource. ask the interviewer (either the nurse recruiter or the nurse manager) about the kind of interview that will be conducted. is it about clinical or behavioral questions? is it a panel interview or just the nurse manager? who will be there? you can simply email or call the person who contacts you about the interview.
two things that you should be saying over and over during your interview: patient safety and patient satisfaction. seriously, who would say no to a nurse who prioritizes patient safety and patient satisfaction. those two words are golden. remember them, say them, and repeat them.
practice answering these common interview questions. i guarantee they will ask you at least one of these questions.
1. what is your strengh/weakness? (in your answer, show them a plan how you can improve your strength and resolve your weakness)
2. your short term and long term goals.
3. tell us about a clinical conflict and how you approached it.
4. have you ever taken initiative to stand up for a patient. (they want to see if you advocate for patients)
5. why should we hired you? what qualities do you bring to our organization? (they want to see if you and the hospital are a good fit).
there will be questions that catch you off guard. if that happens, take a deep breath, say how you would approach it. keep in mind patient safety and patient satisfaction will give you a safe answer.
getting to the interview:
do not be late. i was actually 15 minute late to an interview and guess what, i didn’t get hired although i felt that i answered every question so well. my advice to you is to arrive at least 30 min early to make room for unexpected events which hopefully won’t happen.
dress professionally and dress to impress.
during the interview:
be confident. as a nurse, you need to be confident.
at the end of the interview, they will ask if you have any questions. one of the questions that i always ask is “can you tell me about your journey to nursing?” and “please share with me one thing that you like the most about the unit/hospital and one thing that you would like to change about the unit/hospital”. agree with them. nod, say things like, “exactly” and “that’s right” to validate their saying and also show that you understand what they are talking about.
however, you must be genuine and honest about your answers. for questions that ask about problem solving/conflict, give them a scenario and how you approached it and what as the result. you should have practiced the answers at home.
24 hours after the interview:
write them a thank you email.
more than 24 hours after the interview:
pray and keep applying until you get your dream job. best of luck to you.
if you get hired, they will definitely contact you. if not, move on and be optimistic. if it’s meant to be, it will be.
- Dec 7, '11 by pinkblossomHi haiyen,
Thank you for the tips and kind words of wisdom. Congrats on getting a job I graduated in CA with my BSN in May 2011. I never knew it would be this tough to land a job. Its been hard, but I'm really trying to stay optimistic. Thank you again. This thread really helped me!!!Last edit by pinkblossom on Dec 7, '11
- Jan 24, '12 by monsterRNThanks for all the advice. I've been searching since May so its been a long struggle to stay focused. This helped and Congrats on the new job!
- Jan 28, '12 by pinklady_951Thank you for the advice!
- Feb 2, '12 by whitescrubs2012How kind and generous of you to share your experience! Thanks very much!
- Feb 21, '12 by augustluv4thanks for sharing
- Jun 27, '12 by IrinauerThank you for taking the time to share your experience and give such useful tips and advices to people. It tells what kind of person you are. No wonder you have succeeded. Good people receive their rewards.Last edit by Irinauer on Jun 27, '12
- Jun 29, '12 by sd-aceGreat advice! That sounds so familiar to my situation and it sounds like I could have written it. If you do land an interview, I would definitely recommend walking a hand written thank you card to each person you interviewed with the very next morning. I was able to get not one, but two new grad positions by doing this. It shows how truly dedicated and thoughtful you are. It might set you apart from others. Also, my particular program is really into looking for new grads who are assertive and who have confidence without being confrontational or rude. Show how you are part of a team even though a lot of bedside nursing is independent. We do rely on our docs and co-workers to get us through the day as well as patient family members. Talk about how your management of patients relies heavily on family centered care.
Also, definitely think of questions for the interviewees that are thoughtful and intelligent. What education do they offer for professional development? What kind of support system is offered to new grads? Mentors and preceptors? Never ask about benefits or pay during an interview.