advice, please?

  1. Recap of my nursing experience: graduated with a BSN in June, passed NCLEX in July. Didn't have a job lined up after countless resumes submitted, so I decided to travel instead. I traveled for 5 months and now I'm back in the US and job hunting again.

    I ask myself these questions/thoughts everyday, and I still don't have the answers to them, so any input is much appreciated!

    Am I still considered a new grad? Has the economy for new grads gotten better since I left? Do I have to get new recommendation letters since they are dated back from the Spring time? I could not pass up the opportunity to travel (once I get a job, have kids, etc. I will never have that much time free), and I dont regret it one bit. But now I come back home, and I'm just depressed. It's winter, it's cold, and I have no nursing job. I've submitted countless applications, and not a single word. I've posted a copy of my cover letter and resume, any advice/suggestions would be great! FYI, I dont have a specific unit in mind and just trying to get my foot in the door. Also, I've taken out personal information, names, dates of education/jobs, etc. Thanks!!


    Dear Sir or Madam:

    I am enclosing my resume for your consideration for a registered nurse position. I graduated from ____ University with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing, magna cum laude on _______. After receiving my license, I decided to travel and explore various countries before starting my nursing career.

    I want to build upon my current nursing competencies and offer a broad knowledge base of clinical as well as teamwork and organizational skills. I know that hospital experience is critical in developing these nursing skills and an important first step in my career. After the past three years of clinical experience, I already have the dedication to the nursing profession, and now I am ready and excited to gain experience being an RN.

    I believe that my experiences, along with my undergraduate clinicals and competitive academic performance, make me an excellent candidate this registered nurse position. If you would like any additional information or wish to schedule an interview, you can reach me by phone at __________ or by e-mail at ________. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.


    Registered Nurse seeking entry-level position at _____ Hospital in ___ unit

    _____ University, College of Nursing
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing, magna cum laude
    Cumulative GPA: 3.75/4.00

    Clinical Experience:
    ______ Hospital
    Rotations: Medical/Surgical, High Acuity, Obstetrics/Postpartum, Operating Room, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Psychiatry, and Public Health

    Worked under RN supervision providing bedside care and treatment; Managed medication administration, wound care, IVs and all other aspects of nursing care; Observed RNs in the operating room; Facilitated patient admissions, discharges, and transfers; Compiled clinical documentation including nursing care plans and diagnoses; Participated in interdisciplinary teams; Delegated and supervised patient care to nursing aides.

    Work Experience:
    Legal Assistant, ______ Law Firm
    Research patents and trademarks, file applications with US Patent Office, handle client communications, and supervise new employees

    Nurse Technician, _________ Hospital
    Provided nursing skills including patient assessments, IV care, Foley care, wound management, patient hygiene, and patient admissions/discharges; Implemented quality improvement monitoring, nursing process, and nursing care plans under RN supervision; Observed the nursing process and care in the OR

    Volunteer Nursing Experience: (FYI I did this for about 1 month after I passed my NCLEX but before I traveled)
    ______ Nursing Home
    Monitored Quality Improvement (QI) assessments of nursing aides; Developed recommendations to Director of Nursing; Implemented improvements resulting from QI assessments

    Free Patient Wellness Center
    Performed various nursing duties at free outpatient clinic under RN supervision

    Sigma Theta Tau International

    Additional Information:
    Certifications: Basic Life Support (CPR)
    College Mentor Program: Mentor of the Year Nominee
    Dean's List (Fall 2006 - Spring 2010)
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   RNJoInMI
    Hi birdie,

    As you already know, finding a New Graduate position is tough in this economy. I held a position in HR (middle management), however unrelated to nursing or health care, but can say with some confidence that your resume is not doing you justice. It is a good first attempt, but your resume reads like so many other new grads and is not going to catch the attention of a recruiter. In today's world you need to stand out and you only have about 3 minutes to do so. I think many underestimate what a good cover letter and resume can do for them.

    I know that a lot of thought, energy and effort went into both your cover letter and resume, but I think it will land in the receptacle. I am not intentionally trying to be harsh, nor am I trying to undermine your efforts, but lets spruce this up.

    Cover letter: Too long, too much unimportant information, too few action words. When I got cover letters I wanted to hear the enthusiasm, and one only had about 2 minutes of my attention in which to do that. Spelling mistakes landed the resume in the trash. With that being said, leave out the traveling. I understand why you think this is important: you want to answer for the gap in employment. However, unless this traveling somehow can be shown/proven to make you a better nurse, leave it out. If you traveled to different states investigating employment in the nursing field and found that your heart is truly in the community where you reside and are seeking employment to give back to this community, then by all means leave it in your letter. Also, if you traveled and have learned about other cultures, perhaps even picked up on some of the traditions and language use this to your advantage and state it in your letter. Next, please do not state that you think you would be an excellent candidate for the position, prove it to them. Your academic history, although impressive, is not going to make you stand out enough. Research the job, research the organization and provide bullet points comparing and contrasting what they are looking for and how you can meet or exceed their requirements. Next, tailor your cover letter to each position and company you are applying (yes, a lot of work, but a Recruiter can spot a broadcasted, general letter a mile away). One more thing, if at all possible call the hospital and find out the recruiters name and address the letter to them personally. It shows you took initiative and did some homework.

    Resume: Use a good quality resume paper in an acceptable color. Of course white is good, off white is good, gray is good...but, a subtle blue or rose always got my attention. Not dark, just very subtle. It seemed to jump out at me while sitting at my desk and I was more inclined to read it again. Font and size is important, find a nice clear font in 10-12 pt. Keep your resume pleasing to the eye. Don't jumble up information at the top and center and leave lots of white space here and there. You will know if it looks pleasing. Ok, now cluster pertinent information together, don't list education at the top, but then supply juicy bits at the bottom. Move your awards, educational accomplishments where they belong. Clinical experience, take it out. We are all nurses and most nursing programs have all of us complete the same clinical rotations (of course this is different for those specialty degrees). Unless, you really have some way of standing out in clinical (received kudos for X or you implemented a new way of doing something that the hospital adopted) forget the clinical section. Note: if you did a clinical rotation at the hospital you are applying, then by all means tell them. Tell them how much you loved the hospital and how wonderful you thought the staff were to students... Work Experience: always do it chronologically with most recent to last position. Your volunteer work is impressive, make it stand out more. That is a really important way to stand out and get the job. If you can, and not everyone can do this, instead of having your work history read like a list of tasks, try to bullet point how you stood out. What you accomplished there, what made you special, what made you an excellent employee.

    Now, if you can create a brief statement somewhere at the top of your resume summarizing what you can do for this hospital, it may make them want to read further. "I am a highly _______ and if given the opportunity I can __________" Something that shows enthusiasm, catches their attention, shows them you know about the hospital and position and/or why you want to work for them. Keep this short and only 1-2 sentences at most.

    The type of resume I am talking about is for new grads. Seasoned nurses would probably use a different format altogether. But for new grads, we only have our education and use of words to truly make an impression.

    Remember, keep it simple, sweet and honest while asking yourself, how can I be an asset to this company. Show your strengths and bury your weaknesses, at least until you get the interview.

    Good luck to you. I sincerely wish you well.
  4. by   birdie22
    thank you for the constructive criticism. i do truly appreciate it because it seems that the trash can is exactly where my resume ends up even though others i've asked say it "looks good". Good isnt good enough nowadays. I guess its just hard to talk myself up and be like "look at me! i'm so great!" but i suppose that's how you play the 'get hired' game in life. thank you again for your comments. its just too bad that we submit our resumes online - otherwise i'd take your recommendation and print it on subtle pink paper.

    and about the clinical experience - i've been going back and forth about whether or not to list it. i'm getting very mixed opinion. but i did go to a good school, so I think I would want to show that my experience is at a nationally ranked hospital which can showcase the high acuity of the type of patients i took care of. thoughts?
  5. by   RNJoInMI
    Thoughts? Don't just apply online! Send it off to recruiters at the hospital as well. Visit the hospitals, call the hospitals to follow up. Let them know you are VERY interested. Unless, there is something on the website specifically telling you in big, bold letters "APPLY ONLINE ONLY" do whatever you can, without being a pain in the butt to get noticed.

    As far as, "talking yourself up". You have a good base there, use it to your advantage. You HAVE some good things to be proud of, good volunteer exp., good talk away.
  6. by   llltapp
    Also, just a thought, have you tried to contact your old professors? they are usually working in the field as well, especially clinical instructors. If you have had good relationships with them, give them a call or email and ask them if there are any leads they can give you. Ask if you can use them as "referred by" and as a reference too .

  7. by   CAL05699
    I also am a former HR exec and agree with RNJoinMI's advice. The most important point is that your enthusiasm FOR THAT JOB must come through. That is why your letter/resume really have to be customized for each job. There are so many new nurses applying for each position -- if a resume shows genuine passion for that position (because you love oncology, or you love that hospital, or whatever is relevant) I would look at it.

    And as Illtap says, talking to professors is extremely important these days. Most professors still practice a day or so a week in a local hospital. They love to place their former students at their hospital (they look good to the students, school and hospital for doing so) and are eager to help.