How can I stand out as a new grad? Job Search - No Offers

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Join the conversation! Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear No Offers,

As a new nursing graduate, standing out among other candidates can be challenging.

One of the reasons I started career coaching is the hundreds of new grad applications I saw in my job as a hiring manager. So many excellent new grads never reached the interview stage because they were never taught how to compose a winning cover letter and resume.

They didn't understand what nurse managers are really looking for in a new grad candidate.

Approach your Job Search with as much diligence as your nursing classes. You can employ several strategies to increase your chances of landing a job. 

Tailor your resume and cover letter. Customize your resume and cover letter for each position you apply to. Highlight relevant clinical experiences, certifications, skills, and special projects or achievements during your nursing program.

Use keywords from the job description to demonstrate how you meet the position's specific requirements.

Read the Do's and Don'ts of a Cover Letter and Resume Help Needed, Please! 

How to Get Past ATS Software in a Resume

Leverage your clinical rotations. Emphasize the clinical experiences you had during your nursing program. Highlight any specialties, populations, or units where you gained hands-on experience. 

Read ReVamp Your Resume

Showcase relevant skills. Highlight any skills that are relevant to the position you're applying for. Think out of the box here, because your clinical experience in school doesn't typically set you apart. Everyone has had clinical.

An example can be soft skills learned in waitressing, such as customer service, or speaking Spanish in a facility with a high Spanish-speaking population. Did you have perfect attendance in school or a previous job? That shows reliability.

Strong roots in the community show you will not be a flight risk.

Obtain certifications. Consider obtaining certifications relevant to the areas you're interested in, such as  Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Granted, most facilities will provide the training needed for any required certs, but obtaining them demonstrates your commitment to professional development.

Network and make connections. Many jobs are landed because of relationships. Attend career fairs, nursing conferences, and local nursing events to network with professionals in the field.

Connect with your classmates-where are they landing jobs?  Reach out to professors and clinical instructors who may have connections or job leads.

Clinical instructors, in particular, usually have strong connections to hospitals.

Utilize professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to expand your network and potentially uncover job opportunities.

Reach out to a charge nurse or manager on a unit where you had clinical. If you made a strong connection during your rotation, they may endorse you.

Volunteer or seek additional experiences. In a competitive market, the applicant with volunteer experience sometimes lands a job over the one who has none.

Consider volunteering at healthcare facilities, community clinics, or non-profit organizations to gain additional experience and demonstrate your dedication to the field. These experiences provide valuable networking opportunities and may lead to job openings or recommendations.

Prepare for interviews. Once you've landed an interview, you must prepare for it. Practice common interview questions and prepare concise, thoughtful responses.

Research the organization and the specific unit or department you're applying to so that you can ask informed questions during the interview.

Show enthusiasm, professionalism, and a willingness to learn and grow as a nurse. Read How to Prepare for Interviews and Uncensored Thoughts of a Nurse Interviewer

Follow up after interviews. Send thank-you notes or emails to the interviewers to express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview.

I have landed at least three jobs, one being a sought-after and lucrative assignment in Hawaii, because of follow-up and cold calls. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

Reiterate your interest in the position and highlight any key points from the interview that you want to reinforce.

Read How to Land a Job  

Give me a Chance; I'm a New Grad, and How to Land that Elusive First Job

I've given you a lot of helpful extra reading, hoping you will take advantage of the tips. There's so much information I want you to have, too much for a single-column response.

 I firmly believe the applicant who takes the time to learn how to stand out will land the job.

Very best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Also, networking, networking, networking. 

Specializes in MSICU.

I 100% credit my new grab job in an ICU at my preferred hospital to the fact that I went to their hiring mixer at a local restaurant and spent an hour talking with the critical care director (among a group of people). It is all about your people skills imo.