When to start applying for jobs? before graduation? afterwards?

Students General Students


Hey fellow nursing student colleagues.

I will be graduating from a BSN program in May of this year. I'm excited!

Yet, all of us nursing students must also pass through door #2 - NCLEX-RN.

I'm curious if you guys applied for hospital tech jobs, or CNA jobs at nursing homes, PRIOR to your graduation date? Or did you simply apply for jobs after the date of your graduation ceremony?

I specifically mentioned tech or CNA jobs, as I will need about a month to study for the NCLEX, which passing it will then make me eligible for the RN-type of jobs. So I'm looking at applying for on-call positions to give me time to study.

Since it's hard to find RN jobs within my area, I'm looking at working as a hospital tech (if I can even get that kind of job), and then applying for a new graduate program elsewhere.

What do you guys think? What were some of your friends' experience weeks before graduation, or weeks after graduation, in terms of job searching/hunting?


115 Posts

I have kind of the same plan as you! There's a new grad program I really want to get into after passing the NCLEX, which I'll be taking next May-Juneish. So I've been desperately trying to get a job at that hospital so I can apply as an internal applicant, aka incessantly bothering HR and being really annoying.

I was recently hired as a PCA (JUST got hired- haven't even signed the paperwork yet). It took a year of applying just to get an interview. I went to three interviews for two different positions a few months apart. It was about a year and a half from the day I sent in my first application to the day they offered me a job. I don't know if it was because I really wanted a particular hospital and mostly only applied there, but it was not an easy, quick process. Even after accepting the job offer just a few days ago, they made my start date mid-May. A few of my fellow nursing students had a bit quicker process getting hired at smaller community hospitals, but it was still a few months to apply, wait for HR to check references, wait for HR to get around to calling you back after they check them blah blah blah...

I hope you find something much faster than I did! And good luck on the NCLEX ?

rubato, ASN, RN

1,111 Posts

Specializes in Oncology/hematology.

In my area, it is recommended that you get the tech or CNA job while still in school. I am also graduating in May and started putting in applications in February. I got an offer and now, as long as I pass the NCLEX, will start working in June. I can't imagine going to all the trouble of nursing school only to get a job as an aide. Seems strange to me.

I don't think you will get hired as a CNA when you graduate in a month. Why would they go through all the time to train you, when you would be leaving them in 2 months? I would start applying for nursing jobs. Also, most new grad programs are already interviewing and hiring. You might miss out if you wait.

It takes time to get started working, and your job offer will be contingent upon you passing your boards. Another point, the job market is hard for new grads, so it might even be a couple of months before you get an offer! Hospitals are slow to get into, most usually only have orientation once a month. Plus, sometimes you have to go through a couple of interviews, then you have to do lots of paperwork, drug screen, TB tests, and whatever other things they require for new hires. It can take a couple weeks to get all that done.

So, I would honestly get your nose in the books NOW for boards, and apply for RN jobs. They know you have to pass your boards before you can start working, but they will have all your stuff done & ready to go! My job actually had me shadow a nurse and start training before I passed my boards. And I'm guessing you would much rather be making that pay rate....


3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

I would start applying for RN jobs now. I've been applying since Feb, and have a position lined up for when I am licensed.

diamond_girl made an excellent point that I wanted to bring up as well- why would someone hire you as a CNA or something like that when you'll be an RN in a month or two? It doesn't make any sense. It takes a year to recoup what it costs to train a new employee, so most managers won't touch nursing students about to graduate with a 10 foot pole for positions less than RN. However, some really like new grad RNs, because they can mold and shape us as they like, and we're enthusiastic and haven't developed a lot of the bad habits and jadedness that some more experienced nurses may have.


192 Posts

Would it be unethical to not tell them you're planning on nursing right away? After all, there is that unfortunate possibility that you don't pass boards the first go-round so that job would be beneficial. Also, if you're staying within the same company and facility you're still an asset regardless of department. I'm definitely not saying it's not a hassle to train someone; it takes time and money and I get that. But you're (left my computer here and can't remember what I was going to say when I came back, haha). But anyway, I don't think it can hurt to start applying for RN jobs now.

Specializes in CV/CT SICU.

Also you may not be able to legally work as a tech once you get your GN permit.


13 Posts

I graduate in May as well, and I already received a job in the ER last month. I was the first in my class to get a job, but from my experience here in Texas, most people graduating this may started applying in January. The residency program I got into starts in June, so I have some time off, I would apply and then tell them when you can start so you can give yourself a break.

Specializes in Neuro Intensive Care.

It really depends on the hospital's policy in which you plan on applying. Some hospitals wont take a look at your application until you are licensed. Others have great new graduate programs that will sign you, and you can begin working once you pass boards. Find out where you want to work, and find out what their policies are.

NicuGal, MSN, RN

2,743 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU.

You do NOT want to try to start a career by being deceitful when you interview. I really can't see a unit manager being very happy that they hire you as a CNA and then a month later be like "Hi, I'm done with my boards can you hire me as an RN?" Quick way out the door of that hospital since they just invested time to orient you to one role and now they have to rehire someone to replace you.

Start studying, take your boards ASAP and start applying for jobs as an RN now.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

my hospital is taking apps now. We like to plan our budget and spread out the hiring times so too many at one time is not good.

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