Nurse Avenue | New Grad RNs struggling to find a job? I got some tips! by Red GP
So, you graduated and got your nursing license. Now, it’s time to find your first job! Easy, right? Nope.
Well, it can be easy; it can be hard. It depends on some factors beyond your control and factors within your control. Here are some tips to land your first position quicker:
Ready for your dream nursing job?
Well, although it’s not impossible, to expect landing your dream job fresh out of school is not easy to achieve. You might be the top student of your entire batch, but there are also other top notch students from other schools/universities. What does that mean to you? COMPETITION. When I wrote my plans to land my first job, my mind set was that my first position is to get my foot in the door. Temporary. I told myself, I will use it as a stepping stone to eventually land my dream job. I went looking for a job with low expectations. The more doors I am willing to try to knock on, the more possibilities I have to actually get a job. So nursing home? Oh I’m in for that!
What about pay?
Do you expect to be paid a lot? Well yeah, you’re a nurse! But let’s talk about this a bit more. Exploring this ahead of time will save you from frustrations. As a new graduate, hiring managers will see you as a lot of beginning investments: no experience-training, high risk on their retention rate, etc.. and with those, one of the things that can look attractive for them, is how low they can pay you. There’s how much you expect to be paid? and there’s, how much you are willing to accept. Meaning, what is your bottom number? I came in for an interview with my bottom number in mind and still got offered less. Did I take the offer? Yes! Because I knew my first job is not about the pay. It’s about starting paving my nursing path. My focus was landing a job first.
Why lower my expectations on pay? Well, because having a low expectation meant controlling possible frustrations. I can only control what I can accept, the hiring manager’s offer is beyond my control. At least at this stage. Negotiation is an art.. And I knew at this stage, I have very little leverage to work on.
What's the best nursing shift for you?
What’s your preference with schedule? days? preferably no weekends? Well that’s what most everyone wants! Whether a well seasoned nurse, or a new graduate! So, that’s another competition. There is nothing wrong in prioritizing your time; in knowing what you are willing to accept. Just remember that schedule is one of the things that could land you a job simply because very few nurses are willing to take a particular shift.
Should new grads care about benefits?
We shouldn’t overlook these. BUT, in my experience, being willing to take any offer to land my first job ended in employment in a facility with benefits and management that leave a lot to be desired. I wouldn’t dare pretend I know if these things should be compromised just to get a job, but it did land me a job in no time.
Private or Community Hospital? Union vs non-union?
Working in a nice facility does have some impact in employment. We can be proud, or not, of the place we work from simply by it’s aesthetics. If that’s not important to you, then you are opening a lot more possibilities to get a job. Just remember that your first job doesn’t have to be your permanent career. It’s temporary. I know a nurse who will only apply for places if they are “pretty”. If the facility is old, it’s not on her list. By eliminating those places, she narrowed her options. I did the opposite. I got hired. I’m already building experience and she’s still looking for a job.
These are the things I learned with my job hunting; and by no means am I saying that it captures the entire reality of finding a first nursing job, nor am I saying the above-mentioned will secure such, if followed to the T. What I am saying is, be flexible. Play odds in your head and decide for the things you are willing to settle for, and which ones are deal breakers. One thing I learned from years of experience in the workforce (not nursing), is to charge things to experience and always fine tune my goals and skills as I go. Fine tuning though, is a skill in itself that requires getting good at. So start now and I hope you land your first job soon so you can move on to the next one in no time!