Graduating in 2 months : Is it too early to start applying for jobs?


  • Career Columnist / Author
    Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development. Has 30 years experience.

Hi Nurse Beth,

I'm a student nurse who will be graduating with my ADN in less than two months. I'm a career changer, prior military for 8 years with no medical experience besides my training in mass casualty and triage.

Anyways, I've been told it's "never too early" to start applying especially for a government position such as the VA. I know how true this is since I was once in the government and everything moves at a snail's pace so I decided to start early and started applying. I literally put in for the job last Friday and I had received an email almost immediately from the VA hiring manager today stating that I "don't meet any of the requirements" for the job posted.

Now, I know that I don't meet them but I will be very soon so why are people telling me that places will hire on student nurses prior to graduating nursing school when clearly, this isn't the case. Did I just shoot myself in the foot for applying too soon?

Any advice would be helpful.

Dear When to Apply,

Congrats on being so close to finishing your studies :)

Nursing students are well-advised to apply before graduation, especially when applying to Transition to Practice/Residency Programs. Waiting to apply until after you have your license can delay your employment. Many employers will hire on the contingency that you have an NCLEX test date and that you pass the test prior to start date.

You did the right thing, but be sure to go back and read what the VA requirements are in the job posting. Then re-apply when you meet them.

Read the job posting requirements as they vary by employer. For example, if listed qualifications in a job posting include Current RN license” or 1 year acute care experience”, then instead look for job postings that specify RN-New Grad” or RN New Residency Program” or Acute care experience preferred”

Don't be discouraged, you did not shoot yourself in the foot. Keep applying.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth


Has 4 years experience.

Apply now, especially for Patient Care Assistant positions. I live within easy commuting distance of a very prestigious and wealthy hospital that, I now know, almost never hires new grad RNs from outside. Instead, they fill new grad RN positions only out of their PCA pool. Time in the PCA pool is from 6-12 months. I wish I could go back in time and apply!

Also, the hiring process at some hospitals is sometimes very slow. I accepted a new grad med-surg/tele position last week (8/15) that I initially applied for in early June. (Hurray for me!)

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,442 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development. Has 18 years experience.

Once upon a time, it was possible to have a nursing job before graduation. Now, there are many facilities who won't even look at the applications of those who don't have an active license, whether before or after they've graduated. In fact, my facility's online application won't allow you to continue unless you check yes to the question asking if you hold an active license. Read any job postings carefully, and adhere to the policies of the facility.