Congrats- you’ve survived your nurse practitioner program. Now it’s time to put your education to work. Finding a job as a new NP grad can be a daunting task. It almost feels as if your nursing career has taken a step back as you are once again forced to into newbie status. Your resume doesn’t boast any experience to the role for which you are applying and employers seem hesitant to hire.
Fortunately, even though you may not be confident in your skills quite yet, or seem to be an unlikely candidate, some companies actually prefer to hire new NP grads. And, there are a few things you can do to help secure yourself a position in the nurse practitioner job market.
Boost Your Confidence then Market Yourself
Many recent nurse practitioner graduates I talk to aren’t yet confident in their newly acquired skills and knowledge. That’s OK. Being overconfident is a far more dangerous fault than being under-confident. But, after completing hundreds of clinical hours you have the foundation required to build upon to become an expert in your new career. You do know something.
When you talk to prospective employers, exuding confidence is an absolute must. If you slouch your shoulders and express hesitancy when it comes to your ability to get the job done, you won’t get hired. Everyone in medicine, from medical assistants to neurosurgeons understands the learning curve it takes to be able to work with patients. There’s clinical knowledge to study, procedural skill sets to master, and working with different personality types to perfect. It can be overwhelming and we’ve all been there. So, rather than acting like a shrinking violet, present yourself with confidence. Acknowledge your lack of experience and own it.
Saying something along the lines of “I realize this will be my first nurse practitioner position but I am a fast learner, and an efficient, hard worker” shows employers you have a plan, hard work, for improvement. Market the experience you do have, either from prior nursing jobs or clinical preceptorships to demonstrate the clinical foundation you have built.
Network Like a Pro
Sometimes in life it is all about who you know. Making connections with others in the medical field is an excellent way to find a job. Let everyone, and I mean everyone, know you are looking for an NP position. Your first point of contact should be former clinical preceptors. If those contacts don’t pan out, chances are you have a friend or family member with connections to a hospital or clinic. When you do make a connection, even if these places aren’t looking to hire, ask for a quick meeting with the clinical manager, medical director, or whoever is in charge of hiring NPs so you can drop off your resume in person. Making a good impression could land you a job in the near future.
Looking for a nurse practitioner organization in your area is also an excellent way to network. Attend each and every meeting. When you do, stand up straight, hold out your hand for a shake and meet as many new people as possible. Attend NP meetings with a mission. Once you find a job, you can focus more on the free food (after all, these get togethers are an excellent excuse to try new restaurants). Even if you are an introvert, this is the time to release your inner social butterfly- even if it feels uncomfortable.
Flexibility is Key
Do you know exactly where you want to work in your new NP career? I’m sorry to say it, but you may need to expand your horizons. Without experience, landing your dream job might be impossible. Sometimes you need to work your way up the food chain first. A masters or doctorate degree doesn’t mean you no longer have to work nights or weekends. A dream career in cardiology often starts with a year or two of practice in internal medicine or pulling evening shifts in the ICU. Jobs in the hippest neighborhoods of your city are likely taken by experienced NPs. Willingness to commute just a bit further may open up the doors to you dream NP position.
Keep an open mind when looking for your first job as a nurse practitioner. Sometimes it might not be exactly the opportunity you imagined, but any experience is good experience.
Experienced NPs- How did you land your first job as a nurse practitioner?
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