Graduating from your nurse practitioner program seems like a light at the end of the tunnel. Until, that is, you realize you are unemployed and face a mountain of student loan debt. Your classmates all seem to be signing employment agreements before receiving a diploma, causing job search anxiety to mount. Where are you going wrong with your search? How might you become a stronger applicant for nurse practitioner jobs?
We’ve worked with hundreds of employers and job-seeking nurse practitioners here at ThriveAP over the last few years. Based on our interactions with these NPs, hospitals, and clinics, not to mention our own personal experiences, we’ve learned a few things about the post-graduation job search. Here’s what you should do if you find your self graduation without employment.
1. Get Certified and Licensed
Taking your certification exam, and waiting for your state advanced practice license takes time. In many cases, it may even be months before you are officially ready to work after you graduate from your nurse practitioner program. As a result, employers can be hesitant to hire new grads who haven’t begun the process. So, take your boards and apply for your state license to practice as quickly as possible and you’ll notice employers are more responsive to job inquiries.
You are looking for the right job for you. Accepting just any opportunity right out of the gates isn’t always a great idea. Finding a setting that will be supportive of your inexperience and get your nurse practitioner career off on the right foot may take some time. Be patient. Don’t let the pressure get to you.
3. Improve Your Skill Set
New grad status can be a significant hurdle for nurse practitioners to overcome. So, take any free months post-graduation to enhance your skill set. This proves to employers that you’re willing to give what it takes to become a confident, autonomous NP. Sign up for a procedural skills continuing education course, or an ECG interpretation course. Job shadow an experienced NP. Use your free time productively to further your career, employed or otherwise.
4. Maintain Positive Momentum
Don’t forget that after you graduate, finding a job is your job. Put as much energy as possible towards the effort. Keep your game face on. Portray your search positively to friends, family, professional connections, and most of all prospective employers. This helps you keep your head up and maintain a positive and momentum in your search. Most importantly, it portrays confidence to those who might hire you. Letting on that you’re discouraged may lead employers to see you as a weaker applicant.
5. Consider a Residency
There’s no employment opportunity more understanding of new grads than nurse practitioner residencies and other post-graduate programs. Check out opportunities like ThriveAP+ (here’s an overview and application timeline). Essentially, these programs allows someone else to do your job searching for you, and ensures your first year of practice will be a well supported experience. Not only that, post-residency, you’ll be applying for jobs as an experienced NP.
You never know who holds the key to your next nurse practitioner position (see the recipe for meeting that individual). Meet with friends and family letting them know what you’re looking for in terms of employment. Grab coffee with current and former coworkers and bosses to see if they can help get the word out about your search. The more people helping out with your job search, the greater your chances of landing a position.
6. Broaden Your Search
Being picky as a new grad is a sure way to lengthen your search for employment. Sure, discretion is necessary, but be open to expanding your search. Are there other geographic areas you might consider? Are there additional specialties in which you are interested in working? The more open you are to different opportunities, the greater your number of employment options.
7. Ask for Feedback
Interviewing doesn’t come naturally. You have room for improvement, guaranteed. So, when you are turned down for a job, ask for candid feedback. What can you do to strengthen your application package? In what areas might you improve in your next interview? Employers are human. They’ve all been there before. Most will be willing to give you a few tips to help you moving forward, not to mention, asking for feedback will leave an impression should you apply for the position at a later date.
8. Find Interim Employment
Your landlord will not be so understanding of your lack of employment when rent’s due. Creditors will call when you default on payments. If you need an income quickly, find interim employment. Work as a nurse while you look for an NP job. Look for a nurse practitioner locum tenens position to help you get by for a few months. Finding a temporary position provides valuable experience, as well as an income, while you wait on the elusive nurse practitioner job.
9. Assess Your Bank Account
Living expenses and bills quickly mount up. If you aren’t planning to secure temporary employment during your nurse practitioner job search, assess your bank account. Do you need to modify your spending habits until you land a new position? Create a budget for your job search (don’t forget to factor in the unanticipated costs of NP school graduation). Anticipate that landing a nurse practitioner job will take longer than you expect to financially cover any hang-ups that occur in the process. This way, you won’t be forced to accept a job that isn’t right for you based on a lack of cash.
10. Be Humble
As a new grad nurse practitioner, you might have years of nursing experience under your belt. Newbie or not, you know your stuff. The rest of the world, however, will see you as a novice. Don’t think too highly of your education and experience. As a new grad, be open to accepting positions that might seem foundational. You will learn something and gain valuable experience wherever you end up working. A prideful attitude is sure to delay your search.
What challenges have you faced in your new grad nurse practitioner job search?
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