One of the proudest moments in a nurse’s career is when they first obtain their registered nurse (RN) license. This enables them to begin their career as a professional nurse. As there are numerous career options to consider, starting out may seem a little complicated. However, having multiple options is ultimately beneficial. Being a registered nurse gives you access to many professional opportunities, and as you continue to add work experience to your portfolio or resume, the options are practically endless.
It is best to begin with a little guidance. The following strategy will help you locate, apply for, and obtain your first nursing position.
Begin looking into potential roles and interests
Once you realize that your goal is to become a nurse, and that numerous nursing positions are available, the first step is to set your intentions by asking yourself different questions about the ideal area where you want to start your career. These questions could include the following:
- Do you prefer to work in a busy hospital environment?
- Would you rather deal with elderly people or young people?
- Are you comfortable traveling long distances to work?
- Do you have specific interests in the healthcare field?
These are just a handful of the queries you should ask yourself when you start your job hunt. Finding answers to all of these questions will help you narrow down your search for the perfect job. Getting more specific information from employers in the local area may also help you decide where you might like to work. Vacancies and job advertisements will only give so much information. To get an idea of a particular workplace, see if you can have a chat with a member of staff in any number of locations, including:
- Regional hospitals
- Nursing travel agencies
- Local government agencies
- Home healthcare agencies
- Residential care facilities, nursing homes or treatment facilities
- Healthcare insurance companies
Broaden your knowledge and experience
In order to be successful in their careers, nurses should always continue seeking additional knowledge and experience. Selecting a reputable university that offers different programs that will allow you to continue learning to progress in your nursing field is the best thing you can do for yourself. Enrolling in an online MSN FNP program, even during your job, will enable you to advance significantly in your nursing career.
It’s important to make sure that you make the most of the career center at your nursing academy, as it may collaborate with nearby medical centers, hospitals or clinics to employ fresh graduates. Also, consider internship and job-shadowing opportunities. Even though you may be more than qualified for these roles, it is an excellent method to gain experience in a specific field and demonstrate your abilities to prospective employers.
Another possibility for nurses with little job experience is volunteering, temporary and on-call jobs. Due to a lack of available nurses, on-call or per-diem nurses may be required. These jobs do not require a lot of experience and allow you to work in a field or area that you may not have considered before.
Evaluate available opportunities
After you have developed a solid understanding of the kind of job you want and the area where you would like to work, you can begin looking for employment. As you have a clearer understanding of the type of position you would like, you can begin to make your searches more specific. New nurses are advised to perform focused job searches on job portals that are relevant to their specialization.
You could also visit the websites of the particular hospitals, clinics or nursing homes that you are interested in to see any fresh job openings related to your field. However, it is important to understand that you do not have to take the first offer you receive. Any nursing experience will be beneficial to you in some manner, but focus on opportunities that will be the best fit for your planned career path while you do your job search.
Verifying your qualifications
Once you have found a position you would like to apply for, it is imperative to read carefully through the job requirements and description to ensure that you fulfill the qualifications necessary to get hired. Many people blindly apply for job positions even if they do not meet the minimum requirements, resulting in unnecessary rejections. Therefore, make sure to check whether you can really do what is being asked of you. For example, if the job is physically demanding, consider whether that might be too difficult for you before applying. Alternatively, certain positions could need experienced individuals. If you do not have the experience required, then consider whether you could actually perform the role with the knowledge you have now. It’s good to be ambitious, but also realistic.
Learn to be adaptable
Getting your first job is a difficult task. Therefore, you need to be prepared for challenges to arise. Depending on your circumstances, area and current position, working hours may or may not be important to you. Indeed, your chances of finding employment in a hospital or any other medical facility are higher if you are willing to work weekends, late hours, or 12-hour shifts. Yet there are also plenty of nursing positions in different environments that will allow you to choose from a range of working hours. A local practice may be open from 9 to 5, or a school may finish at 3pm. Again, it is about finding what will suit you and your lifestyle.
Promote yourself and work on building a rapport
As is the nature of any job that you apply to, there will always be more applicants than jobs available. Your personal connection with relatives and friends can serve as a fantastic source of career opportunities. To find out about professional opportunities, you might also contact the alumni office and your contacts from your previous nursing academy. The important thing is to market yourself actively. It would be best if you also kept good connections with your fellow graduates from your course or a seasoned nurse willing to share advice with you. Developing relationships may help you grow your profession. Therefore, building a rapport is crucial. If you want to succeed in your career, you should build strong relationships with others in your surroundings, whether you are seeking work or not.
Create an impressive CV and strong cover letter
Making an effective CV and cover letter are two of the most crucial steps that will allow you to put your best foot forward in front of potential employers. Once you have chosen the position you want, it is time to learn how to impress during the application process. The two most important things you should have are a strong CV and cover letter. The CV must include your credentials, certifications, skills and relevant job experience. To complement this, your cover letter gives you a chance to go into more detail about why you would be a good match for the position.
Customizing your CV and cover letter according to your desired positions can help you stand out from other candidates. In other words, review the job description and make necessary changes to your master resume and cover letter to ensure that all the job requirements are covered in your application.
Getting prepared for an interview
After passing the first hurdle of applying for a job and getting a response, your interview will be the second hurdle that awaits you. An interview is crucial in deciding whether you get hired because it allows you to showcase your personality to your prospective employers. Therefore, you must be very well-prepared for your interview. Nowadays, many companies begin their recruitment process with a pre-screening online video or phone interview to ensure that the fundamentals are addressed, such as your licenses, your awareness of the job role and requirements, etc.
Some of the common preliminary interview questions that could be asked include:
- What are your career objectives?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What inspired you to become a nurse?
Ensure that you know exactly why you are applying for the role and what your abilities could bring to it. Make sure that your answers are well-prepared with research about the employer.
Never stop learning
As a nurse, you should always be up to date with new technologies, research and trends. For nurses to keep their licenses, the majority of states in the US mandate continuing education every two to three years. If you want to advance your career, you should always be eager to learn new things from your coworkers and others.