After the excitement of earning your nursing degree and license wears off, new graduate nurses face the somewhat daunting task of landing their first nursing job.
First-time job seekers and career changers, alike need to approach their job search with a thoughtful strategy and the same level of determination that got them across the NCLEX finish line.
While you may be inclined to play the numbers game and apply everywhere, in hopes of landing a position, you would be better served by adopting a more discerning approach. A workplace environment where the new nurse can flourish is a paramount requirement and, as a new nurse, knowing what features to consider when applying for a new position will increase the likelihood of a fulfilling career.
Remember that the interview process is a two-way street. You are being interviewed for a position, but you are also interviewing the place of employment to identify if it is a good fit for you. Having a list of questions indicates you are serious about the position.
One important element to consider is financial compensation for provided services. Having an understanding of the salary in the interested area and geographical location while considering the level of experience before the interview is vital.
As with any new position, benefits including health and life insurance, retirement options, vacation and sick time are all important considerations.
Supportive compensation for the professional degree may be equally as important as salary, including factors such as onsite continuing education opportunities, licensure renewal reimbursement, malpractice insurance, and educational reimbursement. Nurses and their patients benefit from lifelong learning. Job applicants should consider if potential employers value and reward employees who seek advanced degrees and training.
It is also important to inquire about patient and employee satisfaction, both factors that are directly related to retention. Workload and acuity are noted to be directly related to job satisfaction (Hairr, et al. Nursing Economics, 2014) and should be inquired about in the interview process as well.
Other factors to consider include training and mentorship, advancement opportunities, schedule of hours and the requirement of working weekends, holidays, and on-call. Consider the distance and hours of travel.
Finding the Right Fit
According to a national healthcare salary study recently released by Health eCareers, an online career hub for the healthcare industry, it is a job-seeker’s market right now. Of those surveyed, 86% say they’re confident they could find a favorable new position in the next 12 months, and 34% anticipate changing employers this year.
Health eCareers also reported that, while the new generation of workers values work/life balance, only 60% of those surveyed believe their current employer offers motivating factors beyond compensation. Top cited benefits were flexible hours, vacation/paid time off, training and certification courses, and more interesting or challenging assignments, according to the report.
As a job applicant, you should go into an interview knowing both what you bring to an organization and what you want from the organization as an employee. Nursing can be a very fulfilling career, but your job satisfaction can be greatly improved if you find the right fit.
Michele N. Pedulla is a graduate nursing professor at Kaplan University School of Nursing.