New Grad Losing Hope of Getting Job

Looking and finding that first nursing job can be a long and stressful journey for new grads. The reality shock can be overwhelming and cause some to give up hope too early. Read on to discover some of Nurse Beth's helpful tips. Nurses Nurse Beth Article


Dear Losing Hope,

CONGRATS on graduating!

It's way too early in the game for you to lose hope. You are 20 applications and 1 month in. Many new grads take months to land their first job. You're experiencing a bit of reality shock.

Yes, it definitely is recommended to start your Job Search while you're still in school, and more schools should tell their students.

For now, the best thing is to optimize your resume and hone your interview skills.

Right now it's all about strategy, and finding a way to stand out from all the other applicants.

Landing a job is your full-time job right now.


You must individualize your resume for each organization. I sat in on a phone interview with a nurse from Ireland who was applying to the hospital where I work in California. He knew exactly what part of town we are located in, and that we were recently Stroke certified. He knew our mission and values and said he was working on his conversational Spanish (large Spanish-speaking population). You can see that he was a savvy interviewer and he definitely stood out.Have you learned to optimize your resume for automated tracking system (ATS) software by using keywords from the job posting? Important.

Using the right words can get your resume in front of a recruiter


Your resume landed you 2 interviews, but your interviews didn't get you to the next level.

They are looking for someone who is a safe practitioner, and who will fit in. Candidates don't always understand that. For instance, an applicant prepping for a Tele interview may misguidedly study up on heart block interpretations. But a hiring manager knows you do not have experience, and they are not looking to trip a new grad up on their knowledge.

Let's say they give you a scenario where you are alone with the patient in the room, and the patient collapses. They want you to answer that you'll stay with the patient, assess and support, and call for help. Initiate BLS if the patient arrested. This shows you understand your limits and are safe. Now if you think critically by saying you anticipate an EKG or labs, that's even better.

Likewise, you can count on being asked some standard behavioral questions, and you need to prepare your answers. You will likely be asked "What's your greatest weakness?" A standard answer is "I'm a perfectionist" Standard, disingenuous, and it doesn't help you to stand out.

An avoidance answer is "I'm not good at public speaking". It's not relevant because public speaking is not a skill required for the job. An unwise answer is "I can't handle stress" because stress management is required to succeed as a nurse.

A good answer is "I'm not a natural at delegating. I try to do everything myself. I'm beginning to understand that it takes all of us working as a team to get it all done. In my last clinicals I made a point to ask my PCT to please take a set of vital signs for me because I was passing meds. It worked out great, and I'm going to keep practicing"

In this way you turned a weakness into a positive. Notice the word weakness was never used in the response.

Always be prepared with a couple of questions when asked "What questions do you have for us?" A good answer is "Do you have shared governance, or what ways are there to get involved in projects once I get through orientation?"

I have a bookful of tips like these for you. There are bold risky moves, such as cold-calling, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do a cold-call.

Consider relocating if need be to land that all-important first job. You don't say where in Minnesota you live, but Mayo Clinic is known for being new grad friendly.

Specializes in Non judgmental advisor.
On 2/23/2020 at 5:51 PM, xindin said:

I am starting to think finding a decent paying job as a nurse is not as close to what many nursing schools present! thats very discouraging! what happened to the shortage we have been hearing about for years! or is it only certain professions in the healthcare industry ( PAs, MDs, etc)

In about 5-6 years there really will be a shortage dont worry! ?


I am a New Graduate RN and I was wondering if working as a COVID Vaccine RN would make an applicant more competitive while waiting to hear back from new grad programs?

It’s the truth.  Just have to go where the jobs are.  Our hospital is desperately looking for staff, we don’t have enough applicants.   Rns lpns or cnas.  I’m sure it’s that way everywhere.