Finding your first job as a nurse practitioner can be downright stressful. Student loan payments loom, the cost of certification and licensure has recently surprised you and your type-A classmates seem to be obnoxiously close to landing positions for themselves. If you’re anxious about your nurse practitioner job search, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to land yourself a NP job that don’t involve applying in the abyss of online job postings.
Here are 7 strategies to give you a leg up on your job search.
1. Professional Networking
As an introvert, networking doesn’t come easy to me. Regardless of your personality though, it’s smart to get networking when you’re looking for a job at any point in your nurse practitioner career (here are some quick tips that help). What does this mean? Attend alumni events and/or post on the alumni wall at your university to get the word out about your search. Scour LinkedIn for other NPs in your practice area that might have job tips. Attend local association meetings. At these events, make the effort to meet others in your field.
Pro tip: A good question to ask is “Can you suggest anyone that might be helpful for me to talk with as I look for a job? Would you be willing to connect me with this individual?”.
2. Cold Calling
One temptation job seekers run into is applying for only jobs posted online. But, often employers don’t get to this stage when they have a vacancy so you limit yourself if this is your game plan. Pick up the phone and call employers of interest to inquire about upcoming job openings. Your best bet is to ask for someone in HR or recruiting. Email this individual as well, preferably directly if you can identify contact information, alternately use the contact form on the facility’s website. Then, stop by with a resume in person. Don’t forget to dress professionally. You may hear a lot of “No’s” throughout this process, but it only takes one “Yes” to become employed, right?!
You’ve may not realize it, but you’ve built a substantial professional network as part of your advanced practice education and/or nursing career. Reach out to current and former preceptors about your job search. Ask former nursing colleagues or supervisors who they know that might make a good connection for you. Professors may have local healthcare connections that can help. Reconnect with individuals you’ve met throughout your healthcare journey.
Most nurse practitioners have an ideal job in mind. Maybe there’s a specific speciality you’re pursuing. Or, perhaps you want to work with a certain patient population. Your wishlist may be more logistics-based, focused on commute time and schedule. I had similar desires when I looked for my first nurse practitioner job. As a newly minted nurse practitioner my ideal was a position in urgent care or the emergency department. And, I certainly wasn’t looking for a lengthy commute. Ultimately I landed a position in a primary care / walk-in clinic, short of my pure urgent care vision. And, I worked about 30 minutes from home. Not a terrible fit, but not my ideal either.
You may need to modify your personal criteria to land your first job as a new grad. That might mean taking a position in a specialty that isn’t your optimal starting point or one with employment logistics that aren’t as favorable as you’d like. The good news? Being flexible will help your job search, not to mention you’ll undoubtedly learn something in your new job.
5. Start Now
The best time to start your job search is a few months before graduating from your nurse practitioner program. Given that you still need to get licensed and certified, you likely won’t be able to actually begin working as a NP for several months after graduation. But, initiating your job search pre-graduation gives you ample time to ramp up your search and learn more about the job market in your area (here’s how to overcome a lousy job market).
6. Follow Up
Employees quit and the needs of clinics and hospitals change. So, even if you get a “No” in response to your job inquiry, it never hurts to follow up. If a few months have passed since you last reached out to a prospective employer, send a brief “Following Up” email to let the employer know you’re still looking for a job. If an employer indicates a timeline when something might become available, of course you should use that as your guide. Be politely persistent in your job search.
Pro Tip: Maintain a spreadsheet listing each employer you contact, the type of connection you made and the result/next steps of the interaction. This will help you conduct a more organized job search.
7. Don’t Get Discouraged
It’s perfectly normal but not always easy to receive rejection in your job search. Most nurse practitioners apply for several jobs and may even interview several places before landing their first NP job. It’s also common for an employer to go silent for a period of time even after a promising interview. Stay motivated in your search and you will see results.
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