You graduated over six months ago and passed your NCLEX. Maybe you even have your bachelor’s degree.
You’ve sent out scores of resumes to dozens of potential employers, but you haven’t received one call back. If only you could get an in-person interview, they would see how perfect you are for the job! You just need a chance to get your face in front of them.
Before you pinch the next person who asks quizzically “Why can’t you get a job? It’s easy, there’s a nursing shortage, you know”, or HR person who tonelessly says “We’ll contact you”, read these tips.
If you are asking “Why can’t I get a new grad RN interview?” here’s why, and here’s what to do.
External Reasons for not getting a new grad RN interview
External factors are those over which you have little control.
Geographic location. Some pockets of the country and some hospitals ARE hiring new grad RNs, despite what you may hear. Many hospitals have new grad RN residencies, which you can apply to. Often these are only two times a year, so find out the open application window dates.
Strategy: Cast a wide net. Begin by looking at neighboring states. Are you willing and able to re-locate? Do you have a friend or relative in one of these locations? My hospital interviewed and hired 23 new grad RNs to start in late February, many from out of area.
To catch the eye of an out of town recruiter, your resume, cover letter, letters of reference and any essays required must be stellar.
If you are interviewed and you live “away” you must convince them that you genuinely plan to stay. This is easier, as I’ve said before, if you have a relative or tie to the area. Read Uncensored thoughts of a Nurse Interviewer for insider do’s and dont’s.
Internal reasons for not getting a new grad RN interview
Internal reasons for not getting a new grad RN interview are things over which you do have control.
The primary purpose of a resume is to get an interview!
But your resume is being passed over.
First, remember that your resume should not be all about you, but customized to each individual employer. Do you know them? Are they faith based? For profit? What are their top service lines? It’s about what you can do for them. Identify the value you bring to an organization.
Do your resume keywords mirror their job description keywords? Do they want someone who demonstrates leadership qualities? Use the keyword “leader” in your resume.
Your resume might well be boring, or cookie-cutter. Avoid cliches. Delete “I’m a dedicated, detail-oriented, driven, dynamic, problem-solving, team-building, self-motivated person with a strong work-ethic” from your resume. Replace instead with examples of how you are a leader, or self-starter.
How do you give examples as a new grad RN without much experience? Were you a class officer? Did you lead any activities? Include activities that highlight your strengths.
Instead of “I’m a people person” (as opposed to what?), say “My energy comes from connecting with others.”
Use active verbs such as: achieved, created, managed, volunteered, resolved, implemented.
Likewise, highlight any volunteer/community activity. This is seen as very positive, and shows desirable qualities to an employer.
Your resume must be mistake-free. One page long, layout with lots of white space, no unexplained gaps in employment, visually pleasing.
Follow the prospective employer’s application instructions to the letter. Some candidates lose out because they don’t follow instructions. If they want your resume submitted today, but your essay at a different time, do it. If they want your cover letter attached as a pdf, don’t send as a .docx file.
If you miss the application deadline, you’ve missed the boat.
A thing of the past? Not at all. When companies accept them, you are in luck. This is how you will pique their interest. It’s the best opportunity you have short of a face-to-face meeting to stand out.
Objectives of your cover letter are to:
- Introduce yourself and clearly define who you are
- Highlight your most notable qualifications, experiences, credentials, skills, and achievements
- Capture your reader’s interest
- Motivate them to call and offer you an interview.
The number one way to get jobs is still through networking. You know more people than you realize.
- Go back and pay a visit to your clinical instructors. Ask for their help. They have strong connections to acute care hospitals, and they have friends who are nurse managers.
- Likewise, ask your preceptors to put in a word for you. Stay in touch with them.
- Contact classmates of yours who already have a job. Ask them to put in a word to the nursing manager. Ask them for their hiring tips.
- Participate in online and social media nursing communities, groups, and forums. They provide support and information on job postings, and tips. Go on linked.in to meet other nurses and recruiters.
- Attend job fairs and conferences. You never know who you’ll meet or what contacts you’ll make.
- Go to the gym regularly. Many nurses go right before or after their shift, go at that time and talk with them. Same applies for church, if you attend.
Looking for a job is your job. Get up early Monday through Friday. Shower and dress in business casual. No sweat pants. Set a goal for the number of resumes you will send out and how many contacts you will make each day. Think of a new contact strategy every day. Try www. indeed.com and www. simplyhired.com to find job openings by location.
When reading ads, look for “experience preferred” and not “experience required.” Apply for everything that says “experience preferred.” Even if it’s not your ideal job, interviewing is invaluable experience. Stay away from travel agencies, they are for experienced nurses only.
If you find a job you are really interested in, find out the name of the nurse manager and e-mail her/him or walk-in. If you do a cold-call walk in, be sure and read
Hit the pavement. Apply online to several hospitals in the nearest large urban city where you could possibly work. Rent a motel in that city for a week. Get up every day and do follow-up walk-ins. By contrast, target outlying areas where there is less competition.
Many new grad RNs are amassing certification after certification. Definitely renew your BLS if needed. As for ACLS, PALS, NRP, etc- when hired, your hospital will provide them anyway. I’m not saying it hurts, but know that they help more in terms of initiative and not so much in terms of skills.
What is really important for you to do now is to hone your interviewing skills.
In the Meantime
Volunteer in anything community or health-related. I have seen jobs come down to “she who had more points for volunteering”. And volunteering is networking. You’d be surprised who knows who, or that John’s daughter went to school with the nurse recruiter’s favorite niece.
Be patient. HR departments in hospitals are slow-moving compared to other industries.
Keep your eye on the goal. You WILL get hired if you keep applying, networking, volunteering. All you need is one chance to get your foot in the door. Remember, new grad RNs are getting hired every day- you could be next!
Don’t underestimate the power of positivity and good energy. This is a trial you are going through right now, but like all trials, this, too, shall pass. Look back at how far you’ve come. Good luck!
How to answer “Tell Me About Yourself”
What is your story? Are you getting interviews? Leave a comment and share!
Until next time friend,