Job market tips for students

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With the shortage the way it is right now, we’re getting all sorts of commentary from our instructors on what potential employers may be asking for when we apply for jobs. The competition is getting fierce, and we’ve been told the days of showing up for a job interview in shorts and flip-flops and getting instantly hired are over (please, don’t do this, even if those days return!). We need to stand out from the crowd, but what can we do to make our resumes shine and our faces pop out from the crowd and shout “pick me! Pick me!” without being overly obnoxious and annoying.

Our school administration has told us many things, some are old tips known to have made a difference, others are rumored to be the new way of hiring new grads. Whether they will be in effect or not, it’s important to know what direction things might be headed so we can improve our aim just that much  more when we graduate and start putting ourselves out there.

  1. Get a job – I know I have mentioned this before, so I am not going to go into detail, but the majority of emphasis has been on getting your foot in the door by working as a student nurse/CNA.
  2. Keep your grades up – the market is competitive, more and more emphasis may be placed on how well you preformed in nursing school. Were you able to keep the grades up? Were you juggling organizations and work and still keeping them up? This is one tip that comes from prediction, but employers may be looking at your transcripts to set you aside from the other files on the desk.
  3. Get involved – When we started nursing school we were told right from the get go that student organization involvement is something that is highly praised in the working world. Whether it is being a part of your nursing class student body (class president, tresurer, etc), or joining the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) chapter at your school, or a nursing fraternity like Alpha Tau Delta (ATD), having these listed on your resume under extracurricular activities is like that shiny gold star that might make potential employers take a second glance.
  4. Keep your work – Here’s another one formed from speculation, but if the job market stays in the direction it’s going, hospitals may be looking at a portfolio of your accomplishments from nursing school. We were told to keep those prized case studies and some posters (just take pictures of the big stuff, I guess) and papers that you have done, especially anything regarding evidence based practice (always the key word!). It might not hurt to arrange things nicely and keep them in your trunk so if you do go on an interview and get asked for samples, you know they are close enough to have in their hands within minutes. I’m not sure how true this will turn out to be, but it can’t hurt to be prepared.
  5. Find a job, any job – It may not be the one that you’ve always wanted, and it may not be the right shift for you, but a job is a job. We’re being told that it’s better to stick it out somewhere you’re not all that excited about for a year, gain your experience, and then magically, one year later, you are no longer a new grad, you’ve got experience under the belt and your odds of getting the job you wanted are greater because of the experience you’ve gained. May not be the most exciting way to start your career, but it may be the key to the job you want.
  6. Be professional – This should go without saying, but I am going to mention it since there really was a time when nurses could (not saying they did or they should…) show up in not-so-professional-attire and get hired because there was such a need.  Remember that when you interview, or go to submit an application, or even show up to HR to ask, that you are representing not only yourself, but the 3 years of education you’ve received from your school. When you show up, you are asking to be a part of a profession that is honorable and distinguished, so you have to live up to that standard. Show them that you have what it takes to take your job seriously and be awesome at it.  Dress modestly and appropriately, remember your manners, and be honest!

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