How to Get Your First Nursing Job

woman sitting at a table across from a man at a nursing job interview

You’ve worked hard for years on your nursing coursework and the finish line is almost within reach! Graduation is just around the corner and you’re excited to put your skills to good use. Yet, one thing they might not teach in nursing school is how to get your first nursing job! If you’re wondering where to get started, we’ve got you covered.

Here are five tips on how to get your first nursing job.

1. Start Networking Now

Ever heard of the old proverb “it’s not what you know but who you know”? It still applies today! Over 80% of jobs are filled through networking, and 60% of employees have found jobs through their network. Your network is a powerful tool you can start leveraging right now that will help you get your first nursing job after graduation.

Networking for nurses doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply create a LinkedIn profile and start connecting with people in the industry. Reach out to people who work in roles you are interested in or at companies you want to work at. Share your interest in what they do and the company they work at and ask for an informational interview to learn more about what they do. Use this as an opportunity to share a little about your studies in nursing and your interest and motivation in connecting with them. Remember, your goal is not to get hired (although that can be a happy surprise), but rather to build relationships!

2. Focus Your Nursing Resume

A resume is a crucial element in landing your first nursing job after graduation, but you may be wondering how to write a nursing resume that will stand out from the hundreds of other applicants and make a good impression. The key to a stellar resume is to keep it focused.

While it is tempting to include every single achievement, certification, and work experience, don’t! Instead, include only internship, classroom, and extra-curricular activities that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for. Tailor your resume to the organization you are applying to, and try to include keywords they have used in their job posting. When you write a resume for nursing, keep in mind that your aim is to showcase what you bring to the table that would make you a valuable asset to the team.

3. Practice Nursing Interview Questions

Apart from your resume, the interview for a nursing job is your chance to shine. Yet, many nurse graduates fail to prepare adequately for this important part of the hiring process, and go into interviews completely unprepared! Avoid this rookie mistake and sweep your interviewers off their feet instead.

Whether it’s through your school or with a mentor, peer, or friend, find someone to do mock interviews. Practice introducing yourself, and rehearse your answers to some commonly asked questions to be more confident for your interviews. You can even record your practice interviews and review them to see what you did well, and areas for improvement.

It is also a good idea to be aware of how to dress for nursing job interviews to ensure you have suitable outfits prepared. Opt for a neutral palette and a well-groomed, professional look. We recommend mid-length skirt or slacks with a blazer for women, and a suit and tie for men!

Bonus: Interview Tips for Nursing Jobs

  • Research the organization you’re applying to before the interview
  • Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer. Topics like work culture, mentorship opportunities, and career progression are good options.
  • Be yourself! Let your personality shine through and you’ll impress interviewers with your authenticity and heart for service.

4. Get Your Foot in the Door

Eager to work at a particular organization but discouraged that they don’t have any openings in the job you want? Don’t give up, just yet. Instead, consider how you can get your foot in the door and then move into your desired role.

Research shows that employers are more likely to hire internally, with over 50% of positions being filled through internal promotions (moving people up the ranks within the department) or horizontal moves (hiring people from a different department from the same organization). Being open-minded about taking on a lower-ranked position or a role in a different department in a company you’re interested in could open up doors for you to get your ideal job down the road. Volunteering, unpaid internships, and part-time positions can also help you build connections within the organization that could convert into a full-time paid position.

5. Take All Required Nursing Continuing Education (CE) Training

You may think that your hard-earned nursing degree and passing the NCLEX is all you need to get your first nursing job, but depending on where you live, that may not be enough! Each state requires nurses to take mandated Continuing Education (CE) training to get their nursing license, and these requirements vary by state.

Before embarking on your job hunt, it would be prudent to check the requirements on your state’s Board of Nursing website. Ensure that you have completed all mandatory courses, training, and certifications to get your nursing license.  Premiere Education offers a variety of continuing education courses that meet state, department, and board license requirements for nursing professionals, so this is a great place to get your required CE training. Your school’s career counselor may also be able to offer advice on CE training needed for you to get your license.

Entering the workforce after completing your studies is an exciting phase of life as a nurse graduate, but knowing how to get your first nursing job can feel daunting. With these five tips in mind, you will be able to kickstart your nursing career and land your ideal job in no time at all!

Want more helpful education and timely information for nurses? Subscribe to our The State of Nursing newsletter to receive tips and resources related to topics important to nursing professionals.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top