congratulations on your new career! nursing is a challenging yet fulfilling job.
1. does anyone have any suggestions as to how i can stand out as a new graduate when applying for my first nursing job?
show up on time,
do your research- look up the hospital and if your able to the department before you interview. understand how many beds they have, read their mission statement, find out if it is a community, university or private for profit hosptial.
think about why you would want to work for them- for instance if it is a pediatric position- even if you really don't want to do pediatrics forever- think of some things you might learn and gain from working in pediatrics and mention them.
think about your strengths and weakness, your learning style, and emphasis your willingness to be a team player- it's not all about you at this point, it's about how you will fit in to their work place.
3. when is the appropriate time to bring up salary? i am curious about it, but i don't want it to seem like it is my number one concern. i've never ever brought up salary in a job interview. my only job has been a nurse and although i would love to negotiate for a salary i think i deserve, just about every hospital i have worked for has a set system they employ for salaries. i.e. every new grad starts at this rate. every one with x amount of hours of experience (yes i've had them calculate the number of hours of experience i have had) gets this amount, or if it's union it's online. while i don't know that it will eliminate you as a candidate you do not want to end your interview - or start it for that matter - giving the impression that you are in it for the money and not for the nobler objective of caring for people.
be flexible! i had one job in an outpatient surgical urology clinic. it was monday thru friday with no weekends and i really wanted those hours. it was not my dream job but i enjoyed it, enjoyed the people i worked with and had many positive experiences in the small microcosm that allowed me to stand out, so you never know what experience if for you until you get some experience.
best of luck.