There are three parts to landing a fantastic job as a nurse; resume preparation, interview talking points and orientation success.
Before even applying to healthcare facilities for a nursing position, it is important to write your resume. To make your resume stand out as a new graduate, listing your experience, extracurricular activities and certifications will be key.
If you have just graduated or just received your RN license, your experience is limited however there are ways to stand out.
- Use the experience you had in nursing school. Describing your clinical experience on your resume can let the interviewer know how involved your were during that training and which areas you enjoyed most. If you’ve had clinical experience in specialized areas such as neonatal or cardiology, include that information as it is another indicator of your strengths. Be sure to clearly state that this experience was clinical however so there is no confusion since clinical experience is much different than on-the-job experience.
- If you’ve done any volunteer work or had an internship, be sure to highlight those. This extra outside work can better prepare you for a career as a nurse and these experiences look wonderful on a resume. The better quality healthcare facilities can be tough to get into without this sort of extra work experience so it is something to start now if you haven’t already. Typical internships or volunteer roles are as nursing attendant or patient care associate which can be great jobs for gaining hands-on experience.
- List certifications. After nursing school, you likely discovered areas of the field that you enjoyed more than others. For those specialized areas, take the initiative to get advanced certifications where possible. For example, if you felt inspired by your holistic nursing course, there is a certification for that specialty that you can get on your own that can be added to your resume and will make you stand out from other applicants. These certifications can also increase your starting salary.
- Continuing education. If you are a registered nurse, it is a very good idea to start taking courses to get your Bachelors degree. The more advanced hospitals and facilities that are working towards Magnet certification will only accept applicants with a degree. Taking the initiative to further your education looks great on a resume and with online nursing courses, you can work fulltime and take courses for your Bachelors at the same time. Showing that you are working on advancing your education on your resume is very important.
- Write articles about nursing. In this age of the Internet, you can stand out from other applicants by writing content about healthcare and nursing. Start by creating your own blog and publish posts about areas of nursing that interest you. Keep the content professional and focused on nursing. You can then use your blog as a way to get published in other journals or on more established websites. Contact them and see what type of content they’d like you to contribute and send them to your blog so they can assess your skill level. Including this extra work on your resume can go a long way as it shows that you have a drive to participate in the ever evolving healthcare industry.
Interview Talking Points
When you go to an interview, you’ll feel most confident if you have taken the action steps above to really beef up your resume. Imagine your confidence level if you went to an interview knowing that you have had hands-on experience outside of school, you’ve taken initiative to get certifications in specialized areas and you’re taking courses to advance your degree!
Next, look professional. Wear a suit, put your hair back and present yourself as a serious healthcare professional. Your appearance can say a lot about your organizational and leadership skills.
During the interview be sure to point out areas of your experience that you are interested in expanding. Candidates with a clear vision of their career success are more appealing to interviewers than those who just want a job. So find your passion and express that during your interviews using supporting evidence such as volunteer work or writing about the topic on your blog to back it up.
Once the interview is complete, mail the interviewer a hand-written thank you note. Even if you don’t think you’ll get the job or if you decided that you don’t want the job, sending a thank you note is extremely important and leaves an impression. The healthcare industry can be a small world and you never know when you may be interviewing with that person again for another role in the future.
Once you get the job, orientation is a chance for you to prove to your interviewers that they made the right choice. The orientation period is considered by some as a trial period and many nurses have not made it past orientation to the real job because they did not meet expectations.
During orientation, always look your best. In the classroom sessions, dress professional and lead by example. Take time to prepare for classroom work beforehand so you can participate in discussions. Be early for classes. Timeliness is an important part of being a nurse so start the habit now of being early for your shift. This extra effort on your part will show the orientation staff that you are driven and ready for the job.
In the clinicals, make sure your uniform is clean and like the classroom advice, prepare in advance for the sessions and be early every day.
The key to a successful interview is to have a well-rounded and jam-packed resume. There are so many actions you can take to build your resume with experience and certifications that do not require prior work experience. Start planning now for improving your resume so you can walk in tall to your nursing job interviews.