What does a winning nursing job applicant look like?

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What did the winning applicant have that you didn’t have? What did that person do that you didn’t do? If it seems that you’re getting passed over for every nursing position you apply for, it’s time to get an edge.

Whether you have loads of nursing experience or you’re a new grad and this is the first position you’re applying for, the truth is that you have to market yourself because the competition is tough for those coveted nursing jobs. Here are four ways to get an edge.

1. Target your cover letter, application and resumé for the position you’re applying for

The first impression you give a potential employer hinges on your application package, so take your time preparing it, and include everything you’re asked for. Flaunt your experience, because this is going to determine whether or not you get an interview.

“Though it sounds very basic, the first steps toward getting an interview include making sure that you meet the requirements for the position you’re applying for,” says Chris Wilson, MSN, RN-BC, Director of Clinical Education & Professional Development at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. “For example, if there is a minimum GPA, make sure you meet the requirement. Submitting your materials with attention to detail, completeness and according to directions is also key.”

But more than that, you absolutely have to target your application package for the specific nursing position you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a nurse educator position, for example, play up your experience and certifications related to—you guessed it—educating. If you’re applying for a position in geriatrics, play up your related experience and certifications. If you have none to play up, you might want to reconsider applying because there will undoubtedly be applicants much more “qualified” than you are, and there may be other positions you’re better suited for. Better yet, consider expanding your skills so that you’re qualified for the positions that come available and appeal to you.

And if anyone gives you the slightest “You’re too old” vibe (illegal, by the way!), you can play up your experience. This is your chance to shine, you experienced nurses!

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