As graduation season quickly approaches, it’s time to start focusing on that first job.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult for new graduate nurses to find a job in some areas of the country.  New nurses can increase their chances of gainful employment after graduation by employing a few key tips.

Start the Job Search Early

If you’re a nursing student reading this blog and haven’t started your job hunt yet, do so NOW! It’s too tight of a market for new graduates to wait until they graduate to find a job. Start applying to jobs and externships a few months before graduation before slots fill up.


If you have already applied to a few jobs and haven’t heard anything back from HR don’t be afraid to call to check on the status of your application. Some may worry about upsetting the recruiter, but I’ve done this on numerous occasions to my benefit. The worse that could happen is they tell you they are pursuing other applicants. This is actually a good thing. You don’t want to be left wondering if HR doesn’t call back to let you know you weren’t a good candidate for the job. 

Network, Network, Network

Tell anybody and everybody you come in contact with that you are a nursing student on the verge of graduating…even if they don’t directly work in health care. You never know who is married to whom, or who has a brother/sister/mother who is in the field. If you know someone personally who works at a facility that can forward your resume to a key person, even better! Use networking to your advantage.

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Don’t Be Too Picky

Many nursing students have a goal of landing their “dream job” immediately after graduation. Typically these areas are the ICU, ER, NICU and Pedi positions. I just want to be honest…these positions are hard to get as a new graduate because they are flooded with applications from hundreds of other new grads.

Keep your options open and make a short list of at least 3 areas you could see yourself working. I wanted to work Mother/Baby when I was in school until I did my clinical rotation and found it wasn’t for me. From there I thought ER would be best for me. When I graduated there were no ER positions open so I took a job in Neuro ICU. Looking back on my 9-year tenure in ICU, I can’t say I ever wanted to work ER after becoming a seasoned ICU nurse.

Be Open to Relocation or Commuting

I know this may be a difficult pill to swallow for some, but it’s not practical to think you’ll get a job at the sole hospital in town. Relocation or a longer commute may be necessary. With experience your chances of getting into the hospital of your choice may be easier.

In addition to working as a RN, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at for more ideas to reinvent your career.

Nachole Johnson, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
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