What is the Best Advice for Nursing Graduates Looking for the Their First Job?

Nursing graduates may be eager for wise advice on finding their first job. Here are some keys to gaining your first nursing job.

Prepare a Resume

First, as for any first-time job seekers, it is important to prepare a professional resume that highlights your skills and education. Nursing graduates may not have much substantive experience in the field, but it is critical to list any nursing or health related co-curricular activities, school clubs, internships, and volunteer experience. The resume, along with a professional and polished cover letter, will be the first thing a prospective employer sees. As the old adage goes, a quality resume will leave a lasting first impression.

Apply Broadly

Second, nursing graduates must apply broadly for their first job. As the job market is difficult to break into, nursing graduates should consider secondary markets. For example, while many nurses may dream of working at one of New York City’s major hospitals, there are several smaller hospitals in suburbs across Connecticut and New Jersey that hire new graduates. A nursing graduate would be wise to apply to smaller hospitals in smaller markets in order to gain experience for a year or so before making the move to a larger hospital in a larger city.

Practice Interviewing

Third, after creating a solid resume and applying broadly, nursing graduates should seek out opportunities to practice interviewing. It is common to be nervous during a first interview. Practice either with a family member, friend or a college career counselor. When you conduct the mock interview, ask the interviewer to request information from you regarding things such as your favorite and least favorite aspects of nursing school. Interviewers will likely ask questions about this in order to ascertain whether you will be a “good fit” for the position.


Fourth, nursing graduates must work hard at networking. Nursing graduates will likely have peers who have found positions. Nursing graduates often hear of job openings through the word of mouth of a peer, mutual friend, neighbor, or former boss. The nurses, physician assistants, and doctors at clinics and hospitals are usually the first to know when a position is opening. Even more, these people provide solid recommendations allowing a recent nursing graduate’s resume to stand out among the pile of applications and resumes. By relying on networking, nursing graduates can find a first nursing job outside of the more traditional job application websites.

Gain Experience in the Field

Fifth and finally, nursing graduates should continue to gain experience in the field. While each graduate ultimately wishes to receive a paying and permanent nursing position, it is not uncommon for recent graduates to obtain an internship or volunteer position in the health field. Monster.com suggests finding a local “free” clinic to volunteer in. Working in the field while still searching for a job serves at least two purposes. First, internship and volunteer positions may be added to a graduate’s resume in order to include more experience in the health field on his or her resume. Second, as mentioned above, internships and volunteer positions are a way to get one’s “foot in the door” and can often lead to a full time job at the internship site.

Nursing graduates looking for a first job should consider each of these five pieces of advice. Most importantly, graduates should not allow their initial struggle in finding a job to prevent them from continuing to apply and seek out employment. Staying positive is the sixth and most important step.