4 Ways to Get Your Nursing Job Search Off to a Great Start

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By ANA Career Center staff — September 2015

For new nursing graduates or students who will be out of school soon, finding a job may seem overwhelming, even as the demand for nurses remains high. You need to create a polished resume, watch job listings, and get out and network. Luckily, there are plenty of resources new nurses can turn to as they seek employment.

Start at Your School’s Career Center

Your school’s career center is a great place to launch the search for your first nursing job. Schools often get word of new nursing jobs in the area and usually have a team of counselors standing by to provide you with one-on-one help with your resume and job search.

Erin Farney, BSN, RN, who now works at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, used the career resource center at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College extensively when she was looking for her residency and as a result was one of the few applicants to get into the critical care area of the Graduate Advancement Program in Pediatrics at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona.

Farney wanted a program that provided extensive classroom and clinical training to prepare her to work confidently in a pediatric ICU setting. Instead of throwing together a resume and applying to any and every job, she worked with school counselors to craft a resume that included the right keywords. She researched different programs and reached out directly to the educators at hospitals she thought would be the best fit. “Graduates need to spend the time on the resume and work with someone who specializes in nursing,” she says. “I did a lot of homework with my career search.”

Take Advantage of Professional Organizations

Nursing professional organizations specialize in boosting the profession and offer a lot of job search resources for nurses at all stages of their careers. For example, the American Nurses Association’s Career Center has an extensive database of nationwide nursing jobs, allows you to upload your resume so employers can find it and lets you sign up for job alerts. The ANA also has a free Welcome to the Profession Kit that’s full of great advice designed to help new nurses find their first job and get their nursing careers off to a good start.

If you’re interested in getting a job in a nursing specialty, most have their own professional organizations, which also offer job search resources. And your state or local nursing organization is another great resource.

Get Busy Networking

In a job search, who you know can be almost as important as what you know. “Networking always helps because nurses are very fond of referring a friend,” says Patricia Sweeney, human resources manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care in Randolph, Massachusetts. “For all intents and purposes, it’s a small community, so networking is huge.”

For a new or soon-to-be nurse, that means taking advantage of social media networks to make connections and stay in touch online, and joining online nursing groups and nursing organizations that host in-person events. It also means attending those events whenever you can. Basically, get out there and meet other nurses.

Apply to Hospital Jobs

Nursing jobs are available in all sorts of health care settings, including surgery centers, wellness clinics and assisted living facilities, and there are a host of areas graduates can specialize in. But a great way to determine what type of nursing you like best is to start out in a hospital.

“Working in a hospital when a nurse first comes out of school is the best course because it gives them a sense of what it’s like working on the floor,” says Janet Elkin, president and CEO of workplace staffing company Supplemental Health Care in Park City, Utah. “It is experience they can never take away and you have it on your resume.”