5 Pro-Tips on Finding Your First Job as an NP Grad

Dawn Pascale

You work in a field known for its shortage of talent and is the worst we have ever experienced.  There are more open positions for Nurse Practitioners than there are good nurses to fill them, so why is it taking you months (or longer) to find the right opportunity? Breaking into your first nursing role can present some challenges. CNN recently ran an article highlighting some of the stories of newly graduating nurses who were having difficulty breaking into the field.

Candidates with experience typically rise to the top of the applicant list, leaving new nurses with less experience struggling to find work.  The nation is in a severe shortage of clinical care; yet many healthcare employers cite that they do not have the funds, the personnel, or the desire to hire and train new nursing graduates.   Nurse Practitioners that specialize in fields such as Psychiatry and Mental Health have an even tougher time getting noticed.   

Stop being overlooked for hire with these five pro tips on finding a job as a new NP grad.

First, Consider Geography

It makes sense that a denser geographic population has higher competition and fewer jobs. The demographic density of nursing candidates correlates to urban settings over rural, which means that less experienced nurses may stand a better chance of finding a position in more rural areas. Some areas of the country have an ample supply of nurses, while more rural settings typically feel the nursing shortage more acutely than their urban counterparts. For new or inexperienced nurses these trends may require your willingness to work in a rural setting or commuting just a bit further in order to open doors to a job.   

Here’s an infographic to show the by-state saturation of nursing professionals.

Second, Consider Alternative Practice Settings

Without experience, landing your dream job might be impossible.  As a new grad, you need to work your way up the ladder.  A masters or doctorate degree doesn’t mean you won’t need to work nights and weekends or 12-hr shifts.  Once you put some experience on your resume the possibilities are limitless, but you have to start somewhere.  Be open to accepting a position that might seem foundational.  Get some clinical experience under your belt and put in a little grunt work.  Becoming more proficient in your medical skills and real-life knowledge will make you much more marketable.

Third, Use A Good Recruiter

The old adage “it’s who you know” has never been truer; 70% to 80% of all jobs are never advertised.  To fill critical nursing positions, healthcare entities turn to professional search firms to source top talent.  Once you reach out to a recruiter, they will act as your liaison to the hiring managers.  When a client says no to a new grad, your recruiter will advocate your skills, culture fit, enthusiasm to learn, and flexibility.   If your recruiter thinks you are a good fit for the client, you have someone in your corner.   

Fourth, Use Cover Letters

We believe that cover letter still matters. Taking the time to write a cover letter shows your willingness to work hard to get the job. A resume is a very fact-based tool; a cover letter can let you share a bit more of your personality, including why you’re targeting that particular job. Make sure you research the facility you’re applying to and tailor your resume and cover letter to fit the particular job you’re trying to land. Avoid the impersonal and standard cover letter; instead, make the document relevant, interesting and creative. 

Fifth, Network More

Networking increases your chances of finding your ideal nursing position in competitive markets.  Job-seeking nurses should consider joining a local chapter of a professional nursing organization. It will likely give you an opportunity to meet experienced professionals who can advise you on local opportunities that are only promoted via word of mouth.  Nursing schools have an alumni association made up of people working in the industry. Become active, make connections, and see if it helps in your job search.

Work with recruiters who trust and value your talents.  Connect with the healthcare recruiters at MedSource Consultants to find out how we can help.