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How to Get Your First Nursing Job

You’ve completed nursing school and passed your NCLEX.  You should feel a large sense of satisfaction!  You are well on your way to becoming a seasoned nurse!  

The next step is finding the perfect job.  It can be challenging to find your first nursing job.  That requirement of one year experience can make things tricky.  

Here are some steps that every new nursing school graduate can take to to get that first nursing job!

  1. Networking - I have found this to be one of the greatest tools in finding jobs.  Take advantage of your time in college to network.  Connect with nursing students that have graduated from your program and gone onto to work in places that you may be interested in.  Talk to your college professors and friends.  Tip: People always love helping out college students that are eager to learn.

  2. Job Shadow - Job shadowing can be a great conduit to finding your dream job.  Now that you’ve networked with other nurses, ask some of them if you can shadow them.  Express your interest in working in their field and spend some time with them to see if it is truly what you would like to do. Try and have them introduce your to management while you are shadowing. It's easier to get a job if the nursing manager can put a face with the name on a resume.

  3. Preceptorship - This is one the best ways that I know if to find a job.  Nursing schools require you to spend time working in the field under a nurse preceptor.  Reach out to the place that you would love to work at and see if you can get your preceptorship in that unit.  After working there for a little bit let your mentor and the management know that this is exactly where you want to work when you get out of school.  If you make the right impression then will hire you on if they are able to.

  4. Volunteer - This is one of my personal favorites.  Often times you will need a little bit of a "boost" for your resume.  Volunteering is a great option for this.  Find something interesting to do with your nursing skill and get started with it.  Volunteer work will make you stand out to future employers and will open up doors. I volunteered on a Navy hospital ship for five months and my manager later told me it was part of the reason that I got my job in the ICU.

  5. Apply - Many of the positions that are available to nurses require a certain amount of experience.  This can become frustrating and disheartening to new nurses.  Don’t let it! After nursing school I didn't apply to a job in an ED at a local trauma center because you needed one year experience.  I found out a couple months later that hardly anyone applied so they ended up hiring five new grad nurses!  The hope for many places is that the nurses that they are hiring will have experience and they can build on the experience and get a great nurse.  However, another great way to hire is bringing on a great nurse with very little (or no) experience and training them to be exactly the way that they want. So, don’t be afraid to apply for any and all jobs that interest you.

Starting a nursing career is fun and exciting.  You have learned so much already and will continue to grow as a nurse.  By using these steps you will be able to find the job of your dreams sooner than you think!  

This guest blog post by Courtney Tracy first appeared in From New To ICU.

Courtney is an experienced ICU nurse and the creator of From New to ICU. She enjoys helping nurses at all stages of their careers, from getting into nursing school, learning new skills or even searching for their first nursing job! Follow the links to learn and read more from Courtney.


Courtney is one of the members of our Affiliate Program, you may see our continuing education courses on her site From New to ICU. To support From New to ICU click on the course title of interest from the blog link. 


Posted: 3/21/2017 9:53:19 AM
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