22 Do’s And Don’ts To Get A Job As A New Grad Nurse With No Experience


Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA


Are you in nursing school or a recent nursing school graduate? Has the thought of applying for jobs got you feeling nervous? Does a lack of experience make you wonder if you will find a job? Perhaps you are asking, “How hard is it to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience?”

If this sounds familiar, you have come to the right place! In this article, I will share 22 do’s and don’ts to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience in 2023. As you continue reading, you will find tips to help improve your chance of landing a good job, despite a lack of experience in nursing, and help you gain some insight into things you should avoid when searching for work.



IS IT HARD TO GET A JOB AS A NEW GRAD NURSE WITH NO EXPERIENCE?


Each person’s experience finding a job varies. While some new nurses find employment rather quickly and easily, others find it is hard to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience. Some student nurses build relationships at clinical sites while in school, which often lead to them getting job offers contingent upon graduating and becoming licensed nurses. Others may struggle to build a professional network or decide where they want to work, which can delay finding a suitable job.

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5 REASONS WHY IT IS HARD TO GET A JOB AS A NEW GRAD NURSE WITH NO EXPERIENCE?


If you are in nursing school or considering going, there is much to think about. One important factor is how long it will take to find a job after graduation. Although some new nurse graduates quickly find employment, others find it hard to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience. The following are five top reasons why some new nurses struggle to find employment.

REASON #1: You Lack Experience

The obvious reason it is hard to get a job as a new grade nurse with no experience is because you lack experience. For new nurses, it can be frustrating applying for a job only to be rejected because of not having experience. You have to start somewhere, right?

I like to encourage nursing students to find some type of job or volunteer opportunity that is relevant to healthcare or health services. For example, a nursing student can work as a Certified Nurse Assistant, unit secretary, or personal home attendant and gain experience that looks great on a resume.

REASON #2: Many New Nurses Lack a Professional Network

One thing I have learned in my years of nursing is the more people you know, the better. Many nurses find jobs by word of mouth. Experienced nurses have the advantage of knowing others in the healthcare industry, and they can call on them when they need to find a job. New grad nurses lack the depth of a professional network that experienced nurses have, which can make it challenging to find a job with no experience.

REASON #3: The Nationwide Nursing Shortage May Not Affect Your Local Area

Although there is an overall nationwide shortage of nurses, not every geographic area is affected the same by the shortage. New nurse graduates who live in small towns or communities with only one or two hospitals and few physicians' offices may find it hard to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience, especially if the ratio of experienced nurses in the area is greater than the number of inexperienced nurses.

REASON #4: Many Employers Prefer to Hire Nurses with a BSN

While some healthcare facilities still employ registered nurses with an associate degree, more and more employers are demonstrating a preference for RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This push has come behind things like the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) encouraging employers to offer incentives for RNs who are seeking or who hold a BSN. If you are a registered nurse without a BSN, you could find it difficult to get a job with no experience.

REASON #5: Facilities May Be Looking for RNs with a Specialty Certification

Sometimes getting a job as a new grad nurse with no experience is hard because some facilities want nurses who are certified in specialty areas. Most new nurses spend the first few years in the field finding their niche before they think of pursuing specialty certification. Do not be discouraged if you are not certified soon after graduation. There are nursing jobs out there for new nurse graduates that do not require certifications.



WHAT ARE THE DO’S TO GET A JOB AS A NEW GRAD NURSE WITH NO EXPERIENCE?

(Below are the 11 do’s you must follow to get a job as a new grad registered nurse with no experience in 2023.)


DO #1: Get to Know the Nursing Staff at Clinical Sites


About the DO:

One of the easiest things you can do to help get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience is something you should do while still in school. You should get to know the nurses who work in the clinical sites your nursing program uses.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Having worked as a nursing instructor and a nurse in clinical settings, such as hospitals and other healthcare facilities, I can assure you that staff at your clinical sites watch you and your work ethic while you are in school. Get to know the staff at your clinical sites. Ask for advice when you need it and show a genuine interest in learning. If you care about your patients, take opportunities to learn and grow, and are willing to work as a team player, the nurses at those sites may be willing to give you a recommendation for a job.


DO #2: Get Your Resume and Curriculum Vitae in Order


About the DO:

Getting a job as a new grad nurse with no experience requires preparation. Prepare a resume that represents a true picture of your qualifications and skills. Since you do not have nursing experience, be sure to list any skills or experiences that complement healthcare. For example, if you worked in a senior center serving meals, you should include keywords like "service-minded, patient, and good communicator." Be sure to attach your curriculum vitae to your resume, as well.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Because you do not have nursing experience, you want to play up any skills or experiences you do have that could be useful in a nursing role. Attaching your CV allows you to give an account of your full academic history and credentials, which can be helpful in filling in the gaps in your resume. It also highlights skills you acquired while in your nursing program.


DO #3: Research Potential Employers Before Meeting Them


About the DO:

You can rest assured that potential employers have done their homework on you before inviting you to a job interview, and you should do the same regarding them. Get information about the company or facility to which you are applying and be prepared to talk knowledgeably about it in your interview.

You do not need to know every detail about the facility, but general knowledge is good. For example, find out what patient population they serve and the type of care provided, and be prepared to explain why you think you are a good fit for their organization, even with no experience.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

When you put forth the effort to learn about a prospective employer, it shows genuine interest and makes you stand out from other applicants. Candidates with true interest and initiative have a better chance of getting a job as a new grad nurse with no experience.


DO #4: Familiarize Yourself with the Job Description


About the DO:

If you want to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience, show true interest in the job by familiarizing yourself with the job description for the job you want. I have interviewed many nurses throughout my career, and one thing I always ask is, “Do you know what is expected of you in this role?” It is a common question in a nursing job interview; so, do not be surprised if you are asked the same question.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Nurse managers and supervisors look for candidates who are willing to follow guidelines and work within their designated role. You can demonstrate a willingness to do this by familiarizing yourself with the job description and preparing to discuss the job in your interview.


DO #5: Consider a Nursing Internship After Graduation


About the DO:

Nursing internships are an excellent option for recent nurse graduates who wish to develop clinical skills and gain patient care experience prior to applying for work. Internships can be as short as four weeks up to a year or longer. Nursing internships generally provide deeper and more varied experiences than nursing school practicums and are usually paid positions, which is an added benefit!

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Completing an internship shows prospective employers your dedication to nursing and reflects a desire to grow and learn, which are essential to being an effective nurse. As a result, it could help you get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience.


DO #6: Volunteer in a Health-Related Setting


About the DO:

Another way to give yourself an edge in getting a job as a new nurse grad with no experience is to volunteer. Organizations like the American Red Cross, United Way, a local boys and girls club, or your local health department or hospital are great options for places where you can get volunteer experience.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Nursing is a profession known for compassion and caring, and volunteering is an excellent way to demonstrate those qualities. As a volunteer, you can sharpen your communication and team-building skills, broaden your professional network, and gain experience that will boost your resume.


DO #7: Join Professional Nursing Organizations


About the DO:

There are many professional nursing organizations available to both nursing students and nurse graduates, including the American Nurses Association (ANA), American Academy of Nursing, International Council of Nurses, National League for Nursing, and Emergency Nursing Association.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Joining a professional nursing organization is a way of becoming part of something bigger than yourself or your local healthcare facility. Not only is being a member of one of these top organizations a fantastic way to spruce up your resume, but you can also grow your professional network, take advantage of education opportunities, and get career development help!


DO #8: Attend Job Fairs at Healthcare Facilities


About the DO:

If local hospitals or healthcare facilities in your area offer job fairs, attending them could help you get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience. The whole purpose of job fairs is for prospective employers and job applicants to meet and, hopefully, find suitable placements for available jobs.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Showing up for these events shows your interest in learning about new job opportunities. You can also use these events to help you work through the nervousness that comes with being a new nurse applying for work and build your confidence. Be sure to take a few copies of your resume and CV to leave with representatives!


DO #9: Prepare for Interviews


About the DO:

If you want to get a job as a new grade nurse with no experience, preparation is key! Simple steps like making extra copies of your resume and curriculum vitae, picking out nice outfits to wear, and practicing answering interview questions can make the process much smoother and improve your chance of getting a job.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Being prepared for an interview can make a difference in whether you receive a job offer or not. Hiring managers look for candidates who show up early, dress professionally, know what is expected of them if offered the job, and who are confident. Practicing answering new grad nurse interview questions will help you prepare for how to respond instead of feeling like you are grasping for the right words in an interview. Any time you invest in preparing for your job search and interview will be time well spent!


DO #10: Think Outside the Box


About the DO:

As you begin to search and try to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience, it is a good idea to think “outside the box.” What I mean by this is, consider applying for different types of jobs. For example, many new nurses work on Med-Surg floors, in doctor's offices, or nursing homes. Think about jobs in different settings, such as group homes, rehabilitation centers, or assisted living facilities.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Applying for jobs at places where nurses do not typically think of working gives you an edge and improves your chances of getting hired. These settings are excellent places to gain some experience and hone your skills while earning an income. Then, when you are ready to transition to a new role, you will feel more confident and have the skills and experience you need.


DO #11: Ask Nursing Instructors for Letters of Recommendation


About the DO:

Lacking work experience as a nurse does not mean you cannot handle the job. You just need the right people to provide references or write letters of recommendation for you, and your nursing instructors or clinical preceptors are great people to ask.

How Following This DO Makes a Difference:

Nursing instructors and clinical preceptors know your strengths and what you were taught in nursing school because they are the ones who taught you and helped you develop your skills. Because they were with you on your journey to becoming a nurse and they have nursing experience themselves, they can often bridge the gap between employment and unemployment and help you get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience.



WHAT ARE THE DON’TS TO GET A JOB AS A NEW GRAD NURSE WITH NO EXPERIENCE?

(Below are the 11 don’ts you must follow to get a job as a new grad registered nurse with no experience in 2023.)


DON’T #1: Do Not Reschedule Your Interview


About the DON’T:

One of the most frustrating things for prospective employers and hiring managers is to have a job candidate reschedule a job interview. Granted, if a true emergency occurs, you may have no other option. However, if it is at all possible, try to avoid rescheduling your appointment.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

When you ask to reschedule an interview, you risk the chance of another applicant showing up and being hired before you. Following this “don’t” and keeping your original interview appointment reflects professionalism and keeps you in the viable candidate pool.


DON’T #2: Do Not Be the First to Mention Pay


About the DON’T:

Naturally, when you apply for a job, you want to know what the income potential is. However, you do not want to give off a feeling that you are more concerned about pay than what you can offer the prospective employer. If you are offered the job, the hiring agent will discuss pay with you at the appropriate time.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

If you avoid mentioning pay and keep the focus on what you can bring to the job and why you feel like you are a good fit for the company, you become a more appealing candidate versus the applicant who is simply looking for a paycheck.


DON’T #3: Do Not Ask About the New Employee Probation Period


About the DON’T:

Most companies follow a set of guidelines that outlines a probationary period for new hires. Some places have a 30 to 90 probation period, while others may have a 6-month period. During this time, new hires are evaluated on things like work ethic, adaptability, and professionalism. Probationary periods allow employers to structure "at-will" employment, which means the employer and employee are under no obligation to continue their business relationship if they choose to terminate it within that period.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

When you ask about the probationary period, it may make a potential employer wonder if there is a reason they should not hire you. For example, are you concerned that you won’t fit the mold of what they are looking for in a new hire and hoping you will make it through the probationary period still employed? Instead of focusing on the probationary period, consider asking important questions about what the company is looking for in a candidate and what their long-term plans are for their facility. This shows interest in the job and suggests you are looking to be part of something long-term which can improve your chance of getting a job as a new grad nurse with no experience.


DON’T #4: Never Criticize Previous Employers


About the DON’T:

Your previous job may have been the worst imaginable, but bringing it up when talking to a new prospective employer will not get the results you want. Instead, demonstrate professional courtesy by saying only positive things about previous employers or jobs and only discussing them if asked by the interviewer.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

Avoiding negative talk about previous employers helps reduce the risk of having prospective employers think you are a gossiper or troublemaker. When you exercise restraint and keep criticism to yourself, it creates an air of professionalism, which is something all nurse managers look for in potential new team members.


DON’T #5: Do Not Discuss Personal/Family Issues


About the DON’T:

One thing that can hinder your chance of getting a job as a new grad nurse with no experience is talking about irrelevant personal issues. When you apply for a nursing job, your objective should be to learn about the facility where you are applying and demonstrate why you are a good fit for the job, despite being inexperienced. Talking about personal issues only clouds the conversation, taking the focus off your main objective, which is getting hired.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

When you avoid talking about personal or family issues, you leave more time to discuss important things. For example, you get to know the interviewer or supervisor, learn about the facility and job, and have time to discuss what you bring to the table. Keep in mind your approach to interviewing can set the stage for a positive or negative outcome when applying for a job.


DON’T #6: Avoid Coming Across As Too Ambitious


About the DON’T:

I understand that this “don’t” may seem contradictory, especially after I have told you that hiring managers look for confident candidates. There is, however, a difference between being confident and overly ambitious.

For example, a common question interviewers ask is, “Where do you see yourself in the next three to five years?” You could be overly ambitious and say, “I see myself as a manager here.” OR you could be confident and cautious and say, “I’d like to think I can take on more responsibility in my role to help our organization excel and grow.”

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

The truth is, both of those answers could mean the same thing, but you do not want to sound so overly ambitious that the interviewer thinks you are vying for their job. Courteous optimism goes a long way when you’re trying to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience.


DON’T #7: Do Not Decline Opportunities to Ask Questions


About the DON’T:

It is normal for interviewers to give you the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. If you decline the opportunity, you could give the impression of being someone who is not curious or very interested in the job.

If you do your research about the facility or job opening, you can come up with a few relevant questions to show your interest. Remember to avoid questions that appear self-serving, such as those about pay, vacation, and benefits. You can ask those questions later. Good questions to ask include, “What advice would you give a new nurse joining your team?” or “What do you enjoy most about working here?”

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

Asking questions shows the hiring manager you are truly interested in their facility and the nursing position. Candidates with a sincere interest before being hired are usually eager to learn and become part of a team, which makes them appealing to those doing the hiring.


DON’T #8: Do Not Ask About Vacation or Sick Days


About the DON’T:

When you try to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience, it is natural to have several questions. It is important to know which questions to ask and the ones to avoid. Anything that has to do with time off from work should be avoided. In my experience as a supervisor, candidates who make it a point to ask about money or time off before being hired seemed more interested in what the job could do for them instead of what they could do in their new role. To keep things in perspective during your interview, I recommend waiting to ask about paid sick days or vacation time until you are hired and going through the onboarding process.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

When you save questions about time off for later, you can keep the focus of your interview on getting to know the company and letting them get to know you. There is a proper time for discussing all aspects of the job, and benefits such as time off should wait until after you are hired.


DON’T #9: Avoid Referring the Interviewer to Your Resume


About the DON’T:

I remember interviewing a job candidate and asking her about previous job duties. Her reply was, “Oh, that’s on my resume.” I knew what was on her resume because I read it before inviting her to an interview, and you can believe that other hiring managers will read your resume before meeting you. The whole purpose of the question was to engage her and see if she could articulate what she wrote on her resume to me face to face.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

Instead of referring the interviewer to information on your resume, answer their questions as if they know nothing about you. When you answer questions, it makes the interview more personal and creates a dialogue with the interviewer. This is important because, for nurses, communication is one of the most important skills we need.


DON’T #10: Do Not Rush the Interview


About the DON’T:

If you truly want to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience, you should treat your interview as if it is your chance to get the only nursing job in the world. Although most interviews take an average of 30 to 45 minutes, you should plan your schedule as if the interview is the only thing you need to accomplish that day, giving yourself time and not making the interviewer feel rushed.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

When you plan the necessary time to dedicate to your interview, you can relax and take your time. When you are relaxed and unrushed, the interviewer will feel you want to be there instead of feeling like they must hurry and end the interview. You should be prepared to follow their lead and stay as long as they want to talk with you.


DON’T #11: Do Not Have Inappropriate Posts on Your Social Media Pages


About the DON’T:

I cannot stress to you the importance of this “don’t.” In fact, I could have easily made this the #1 “don’t” in this article. We live in a world filled with technology. Very few people do not have at least one type of social media account. Keep in mind that once something is on the internet it is almost impossible to have it removed.

How Following This DON’T Makes a Difference:

Healthcare facilities desire to hire nurses with good character, who will not bring negative attention to their business. You can rest assured that prospective employers will look for you online, and if you have inappropriate posts, photos, or other images posted, it could jeopardize your chance of getting a job.



MY FINAL THOUGHTS


If you are in nursing school or considering going to school to become a nurse, you probably have many questions. You may wonder how long it takes to become a nurse and what you must do to get your license. You likely also want to know, “How hard is it to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience?”

Throughout this article, I gave you some insight into reasons it may be difficult to get a job as a new nurse graduate and offered some guidance by providing 22 do’s and don’ts to get a job as a new grad nurse with no experience in 2023. If you want to find a job as a new nurse, I encourage you to consider these do’s and don’ts carefully and implement them when you begin your job search.


Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).