Applied to multiple residencies but not getting any offers

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I'm a student nurse about to graduate in May. I have applied to so many residencies, and have not received any offers. I have heard it's due to an influx of applicants and internal applicants getting the positions first. What am I supposed to do if I don't get a residency? Many other Nursing Jobs require you to have at least 6 months of experience. How am I supposed to get experience if I can't get hired?

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Congrats on being close to graduation 🙂

You don't know how much your situation affects me. I wrote an entire book, "Your Last Nursing Class: The Ultimate Guide to Landing Your First Nursing Job...and Your Next!" exactly for new grads like you!

As a former hiring manager, I witnessed many new graduates being rejected due to their lack of knowledge on how to stand out in a competitive hiring situation.

Seeing potentially excellent new nurses being turned away simply because they were unaware of what hiring managers were seeking was disheartening.

They lacked the ability to write a concise and compelling cover letter and the interview skills required. These factors, among others, contributed to their being turned down for the position.

The truth is that all new graduates are at the same level, with no prior experience. However, knowledge of these nuances from an insider's point of view makes all the difference in being offered the job.

Helping new nurses became my passion.

I have so much to tell you, but I can't post it all here. Here's a couple of tips:

  • If you're not landing interviews, your application is the culprit. Are you individualizing your application to every potential employer or mass-applying with your resume?
  • Do you know the potential employer's mission statement and the hospital's service lines? Do you know the demographics of the hospital population, and can you show how you can help to solve their problems?
  • Applicants tend to think from their point of view, but you must begin to think from a manager's point of view.

Think about this: You must be the solution to their problem. For example, if their problem is high nursing turnover, show that you are not a flight risk.

  • If their patient demographic is 60% Hispanic and you speak Spanish, include it in your application. This is an example of what helps you stand out from other equally qualified applicants.
  • Is your cover letter compelling? Is it visually easy on the eyes, with plenty of white space, short paragraphs, a one-page length, and a call to action?
  • Nurse managers and HR personnel dread cover letters stuffed with meaningless cliches such as "I'm a team player" or "I'm applying to find employment in a great organization that will provide me growth opportunities" (stating the obvious). In my book, I give examples of cover letters that stand out and catch attention.
  • Your cover letter is your entry ticket, and it must draw them in so you can interview and wow them in person.
  • Be conscientious! If an application contains even a single grammatical error, it may be rejected, as it could imply that the applicant has sloppy work practices (by the way, your letter is well composed and mistake-free 🙂).

I have seen applications with the wrong employer listed on the inside address.

  • Is your contact information professional? If your email address is [email protected], change it to [email protected]. Likewise, make sure the voicemail message on your phone is professional.

There's so much more, of course.

I'm excited for you and thinking about the next step: interviews! You must be well prepared and know how to answer some predictable questions.

"What's your greatest weakness?"

"What would you do in (this particular) patient situation?"

"Tell us about a time you had a conflict with a (supervisor, coworker, or client)."

In my book, I tell you exactly how to give winning answers to these and, just as importantly, what the wrong answers are. You must know what hiring nurse managers are looking for in your responses.

Are you prepared to relocate? It is not unusual for new grads to move to find their first job. 

I'll circle back shortly, look up some articles for you to read, and list them below.

One more thing: since you're still in school, get letters of recommendation now from your professors and clinical instructors. Don't wait until after graduation- they are less likely to respond.

Clinical instructors often have close ties to local hospitals, and their recommendations are respected. I used to ask the instructors from each college who the best in their class and then hire that person.

Best wishes, keep applying. Be persistent and patient.

Nurse Beth