Congratulations! You’ve passed all the tests and jumped through all the hoops. Now, it’s time to find a nursing job. You may be finding that this is harder than you thought. Following these tips will make it easier and help you overcome the challenges every new nurse faces in finding that first nursing job.

Know Your Goals

goal-setting and achieving objectives

Although right now it probably feels like you’ll take any nursing position that’s offered to you, it’s important to keep your long-term goals in mind and to communicate those during an interview. First, this helps you seem directed and driven. It also prevents you from coming off as desperate. Desperation is a turn off to any employer. Knowing your goals also helps you write an appropriately targeted resume and cover letter and provides you with a way to streamline your job search and communicate with others about what type of position you seek.

Network, Network, Network

An intricate network diagram

Through nursing school and clinical rotations, you’ve made many contacts with nurses and other medical professionals. Meet them for lunch, send them an email, message them on Facebook or LinkedIn. Whatever you do, make sure you have continual friendly interactions with them and let them know what type of nursing job you want. Even if they don’t work in that field, they may know of a place that’s hiring for it.

Resume and Cover Letter

a resume and cover letter displayed on the screen

You want to make yourself stand out from the other applicants for the same nursing position. Your resume and cover letter are the first opportunity to do this. Although they are professional documents, you can show off your personality and skills by highlighting your extraordinary contributions during clinical rotations, any awards or other recognition, and using keywords that coincide with those in the positions for which you’re applying.

Conduct a Fruitful Search

concept of conducting a fruitful search.

Conducting a job search for your first nursing job can feel like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Using the terms that define your goals and that you’ve captured on your resume, you can find positions for which you’re both qualified and interested in pursuing. For example, if you’re looking for a nursing position in a doctor’s office, you can use those terms to hone in on the appropriate positions and filter out others.

Be Brave

encouraging courage and determination.

Setting out on your nursing career is exciting and scary. Prove to potential employers you have what it takes by putting yourself out there. Instead of asking “should I…” ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen if I do?” Pick up the phone. Call HR and/or the nursing manager for places you’ve applied or are interested in working – even if they don’t have any jobs currently posted. Consider if you’re willing to relocate and if so, don’t be afraid to say that in your cover letter.


persistence amidst challenges.

Finding that first nursing job is challenging. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get hired after the first three, five, ten, or more interviews. Keep applying, keep interviewing, keep networking and trust that the right nursing position will open up.

Feel free to comment and share your experiences finding work after becoming a nurse!

Article written by, Sarah Woodard: