Just Graduate? Now What?

Is the most common question in your mind, “Now what?”

So many of the new grad nurses are having a difficult time getting nursing jobs these days! I’m sure you’ve heard all the reasons spouted off from this source or that source. While these reasons may be quite valid, do not use them as excuses for sitting back and waiting for a job to just plop into your lap.

Grad, you must focus on increasing your VALUE to a prospective employer. New grads are entering the field during the perfect storm of a bad economy, job shortage, and nurse retirees who are back to work because their retirement portfolios are no longer robust enough to support their retirement. So, the problem becomes how to stand out in the sea of applicants? Sometimes “who you know” pans out into a job just fine, but in this market, it needs to be all about HOW YOU SHINE.

And you can’t shine unless you have fuel and then a spark to light a fire in that interview!

What’s my fuel, you ask? And what’s the spark?

There’s plenty of advice out there on the internet for routine interview tips, what to wear or not wear, how to shake hands, etc. No need to repeat them, especially since most of them are just common sense. Instead, I’ll list a few things that might not be so obvious, and could help you long after you’ve passed “new grad” status. To this day, I use these interview preparation methods to reduce my anxiety, feel confident, and present myself as the shining team player I know I am!

1) Have a portfolio. THIS IS YOUR FOUNDATIONAL FUEL. Update as needed. Here’s what to keep in it:

  • Resume hard copy:  Don’t rely on always having it on your computer. Computers crash, files get erased. Keep the resume to 2 pages or less. For new grads, consider including a list of skills with which you are already competent, including keyboarding, word processing, etc.
  • Copies of your nursing license, your NCLEX scores, other relevant testing information, grade transcripts, and relevant medical certifications. For a new grad, consider including First Aid, Lifeguard, CPR, nursing assistant, etc.
  • An up-to-date list of nursing continuing education courses taken. Consider including copies of your official certificates.
  • List of your addresses for the last 7 years for the criminal background check. You will likely need to copy these to the paper or electronic application form.
  • Written questions: What you want to know about the orientation process, turnover rate on the unit, opportunity for committee involvement, how new grads are viewed by staff, etc. Avoid asking about salary, vacation, sick time, benefits, or available internet access.
  • Written answers: Take the most common, yet hardest interview questions, sit down and write out thoughtful answers to these questions. If you’ve already thought about, rehearsed, and read over the answers, you’ll have no problem answering them on the fly. Questions include:

See next week’s post for the SPARKS to make the fuel burn brightly enough to GET NOTICED.

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