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Landing your first job as a brand new nurse isn’t easy. This is something that you should be thinking about when you’re starting your senior year of nursing school, not when you’re walking across the stage. The main reason you want to start thinking about this earlier than later is so you can start working at the bedside as soon as possible upon graduation.

Here is my ideal timeline for a student nurse during their senior year of nursing school.

(Please note: this is based on your academic year starting in August and ending in May)

AugStart thinking about what nursing unit you would like to work on (med-surg, critical care, pediatrics, emergency department, etc.) for your first job. If you’re able to pick where you complete any of your clinicals, direct them towards your interest. It will look good on your resume!

SeptIf you don’t already volunteer, try to find some place to do so once every week or so. A soup kitchen, local middle/grade school, or even tutoring younger nursing students at your college are all great options that will give you an edge on your resume.

NovCreate or update your resume. This can take longer than you might think, so start doing this early. It can get frustrating, so do it in chunks. Have multiple people edit it: your resume should be flawless.

 

 

Using an online service, like StaffGarden, can make this headache of a process much smoother.

DecStart thinking about where you want to work when you graduate (meaning specific facilities, not your specialty; hopefully you have already narrowed down your interest by now). Do your research on various hospitals and facilities that you would like to work, and see if they have a new graduate residency or nurse residency program.  Check out their requirements for applications (IE, if a cover letter is necessary, the number of  personal and professional references, etc.)

 

Start thinking about what nursing unit you would like to work on (med-surg, critical care, pediatrics, emergency department, etc.) for your first job. If you’re able to pick where you complete any of your clinicals, direct them towards your interest. It will look good on your resume!

 

 

If you don’t already volunteer, try to find some place to do so once every week or so. A soup kitchen, local middle/grade school, or even tutoring younger nursing students at your college are all great options that will give you an edge on your resume.

 

 

Create or update your resume. This can take longer than you might think, so start doing this early. It can get frustrating, so do it in chunks. Have multiple people edit it: your resume should be flawless.

 

 

Using an online service, like StaffGarden, can make this headache of a process much smoother.

 

 

Start thinking about where you want to work when you graduate (meaning specific facilities, not your specialty; hopefully you have already narrowed down your interest by now). Do your research on various hospitals and facilities that you would like to work, and see if they have a new graduate residency or nurse residency program.  Check out their requirements for applications (IE, if a cover letter is necessary, the number of  personal and professional references, etc.)

 

Many hospitals have created programs to ease the transition from graduate nurse to bedside nurse. They have a general “new grad” application that in which you will apply under, rather than a position on a specific unit. All new grads will start at the same time later in the year (typically in August to allow the nurse graduates enough time to pass boards and receive their licensure or confirmation) and provide additional education that someone outside of the residency program would not receive. I went through one and it was incredibly beneficial.

 

They typically start accepting applications in January and close the applications in February or March. It’s a pretty small window, so if you’re not paying attention, you can miss your opportunity to land an ideal post-grad first job. These programs are awesome and you do not want to miss out!

JanFinalize your list of various facilities that you plan on submitting an application. If the applications are open for your new grad residency, apply!

FebDuring your last semester of school, try to network so you can build connections to actually land the job. Making a good impression on fellow nurses and physicians that you encounter in your last semester of clinicals can really go a long way. Be a memorable name and face.

MarchContinue to search for jobs and apply as needed. Start to think about what your post-graduation plan will be for studying for the NCLEX. Which prep course will you use? Some can be pretty expensive, make sure you are preparing financially for prep courses, the fees to sit for boards, and to obtain your license. Research this process for your respective state now so you’re not scrambling in May.

AplHopefully around this time, you’ll get a call back for an interview for one of your jobs. Start researching interview skills and practice with classmates.

MayNow is the time to focus on passing your finals and enjoying your pinning ceremony and walking across the stage! Woo hoo! You’re done!

 

Finalize your list of various facilities that you plan on submitting an application. If the applications are open for your new grad residency, apply!

 

 

During your last semester of school, try to network so you can build connections to actually land the job. Making a good impression on fellow nurses and physicians that you encounter in your last semester of clinicals can really go a long way. Be a memorable name and face.

 

 

Continue to search for jobs and apply as needed. Start to think about what your post-graduation plan will be for studying for the NCLEX. Which prep course will you use? Some can be pretty expensive, make sure you are preparing financially for prep courses, the fees to sit for boards, and to obtain your license. Research this process for your respective state now so you’re not scrambling in May.

 

 

Hopefully around this time, you’ll get a call back for an interview for one of your jobs. Start researching interview skills and practice with classmates.

 

 

Now is the time to focus on passing your finals and enjoying your pinning ceremony and walking across the stage! Woo hoo! You’re done!

 

The time after graduation should be spent focusing on passing your boards and completing all of the necessary paperwork to do so. This can be a bit of a tedious process; so add on top of that creating a resume, researching hospitals, and submitting application after application –it won’t take long for your head to be spinning!

 

For those of you that recently graduated from nursing school, what did your senior year look like? What mistakes did you make in planning and preparing to land your first job? What did you do right that you want to share with others?

 

 

Author

Kati Kleber

Kati Kleber

StaffGarden Contributor

Kati Kleber wants you to be the best nurse you can be in the shortest amount of time possible. It takes a little while to develop your nursey confidence, & she want to remove as many roadblocks as possible. Check out her blog at NurseEyeRoll.com