I'm a new grad. I've been hearing about the shortage of nursing jobs
for quite a while so I started sending in my application & resume a month before graduation. I've sent probably about 30 resumes to any & all available positions. I signed up with Indeed Job search
site which sends me daily emails about job postings in my area (it's great). I also regularly checked the career pages of the different hospitals I applied to.
Here are my tips:
Make sure you have a very professional
looking resume. Ask other people to proof read it for you. Put only the relevant jobs you had and make sure to link them to the job you are applying for. Ex: If you've only worked in retail you can say that working in retail has given you excellent communication/social skills and thus you are comfortable working with patients and the healthcare team. Or whatever.
I've googled 'sample nurse resume/cover letter' and tried to see how I could improve my resume. These are the sites that I really liked: NurseResumes
. Remember that many other nurses are also googling for resume/cover letter samples so use these to help guide you and make sure not to copy and risk having your manager notice a similar one.
Create a portfolio
. As a new grad it won't contain much but if you are planning to be in this career for the next +++ years it's good to start on a portfolio that you can add on as the years go by. It should contain your resume, cover letter, reference list, certificates, awards, nursing license, CPR/First Aid certificate, reference letter (try to get your preceptor, clinical instructor, or manager to write you a letter. Most places just ask for the contact information of your references but I believe that the amazing letter my preceptor wrote for me helped me when I gave the manager at the end of the interview),
Make sure you have at least 3 references related to nursing. Like I said earlier either manager, clinical instructor or preceptor. Some places only wanted RN references. At the end of the semester ask for their contact information and if you can use them and keep in contact.
When you get a call for interview, PREPARE. Once again, google comes to the rescue. There are a lot of websites to help you. I tend to get very nervous during interviews so it helps me when I can anticipate the questions and prepare answers. Here are some of the websites that I liked: 15ToughQ&A
. Hope they help.
The three interviews that I've had the most common questions were:
a) Tell me about yourself: School, when graduated, related work/volunteer experience, reason for wanting this position, qualifications for this position.
b) Give can example of when you have advocated for your patient: Background, your actions, the result.
c) What are your strengths: Have at least 3.
d) What are your weaknesses: Have at least 3 here too. Don't just list them and leave it as that. For each weakness explain what you have done or are doing to improve on it. For me I hate public speaking and get nervous when speaking to a group. Because we have to work within a team it's important that I feel comfortable in situations where I have to present a case etc. I told the manager that I took a communications course and workshop on assertive speaking which helped me to at least appear calm and collected while still being a little nervous on the inside.
e) If you had a problem with a coworker, what would you do? They want to know that you speak to the person first and do not run to the manager/charge for every little problem. If that doesn't work the work up the chain of command.
Half of the interview are questions related to the above scenarios and the other half is clinical questions. I brushed up on my notes. For my med-surg position they asked about MI, Hypoglycemia, and what would you do in this case type of stuff. Brush up on common nursing diagnoses.
At the end of the interview ask questions even though they might have already answered the ones you had initially. Think of something. Ex: How long is orientation, what is your selection process, do you contact me or I contact you, etc. Also try to leave them with something - if you can this is when you hand in your reference letter. They are interviewing a lot of people so you want to stand out and it's good if another person speaks on your behalf in the case of the letter.
Send a thank you card after the interview and/or after getting hired. After the interview if you want the person to remember you and after being hired if you want the manager to have good thoughts about you. Imagine how many managers get thank you cards after hiring someone. Rarely I believe.
As a new grad take the job even if it's not your dream job. I got hired as a med-surg float even though I'm passionate with working with babies. Labour Delivery/Postpartum has always been my dream but this is the job that called me. I don't want to be wasting time and waiting for that job when I could be gaining skills & experience. I still am going to work towards being in LD/Postpartum but probably not right away. In this current job climate you can't afford to be picky.
When you do get hired, spread the luck around. When you hear about new position in your unit/hospital - email/contact your friends and let them know. They'll appreciate it and maybe later on that favour will be returned. Even if it's not you're doing a good thing.
Breathe a sigh of relief in being lucky enough to get a job and pray for others who are still in the predicament you were in!