How to Find Your First Nursing Job

Now that you’ve graduated from nursing school AND passed the NCLEX-RN exam AND got your nursing license (congrats on all of those), it’s time to start nursing!

Hunting for that first job may seem daunting, but it can actually be a lot of fun. Keep reading and I’ll give you a few tips on how to find your first nursing job.

1. Be an extern –or a shadow

Student nurse externships and job shadowing are both excellent ways to get leads for your first nursing job.

An externship is an intensive (usually 8 weeks) clinical rotation that gives nursing students the opportunity to work in a variety of healthcare settings under the guidance of an RN preceptor.  If you were an extern, consider looking for a job at the place where you did your training. It’s a win-win because you know them and they know you. This is exactly how I landed my first job. For me, starting my nursing profession in a familiar place, with friendly faces, was a huge help in transitioning from student nurse to registered nurse.

Whether you were an extern or not, consider shadowing nurses at hospitals or clinics you’re interested in (call Nurse Recruitment or Human Resources to see if this is an option). By job shadowing, you’ll get a feel for different nursing specialties and get a glimpse of your potential workplace. While you’re there, be sure to ask about open positions and apply for anything that seems interesting.

2. Leverage Social Media

While Facebook can be a colossal time waster (believe me, I’ve been sucked into my fair share of cute animal videos and pictures of random people’s vacation photos), it can also be a huge help when you’re looking for a job.

Instead of updating your status with a detailed rundown of last night’s dinner, let everyone know that you’re now a real, bona fide nurse and you’re looking for your first job. I bet someone will know someone who can give you a lead.

You should also create a LinkedIn profile. This social media site, geared towards professionals, is an excellent place to look for jobs and network with folks in your industry. LinkedIn can recommend jobs that match your profile and recruiters may even reach out to you when they have positions to fill. How’s that for opportunity knocking at your door?


laughing horse

The look you’ll have when you land your first nursing job


3. Go to the Fair

A career fair, that is. They may not have cotton candy or ferris wheels but the networking can’t be beat.

Career fairs are an excellent way to check out lots of potential opportunities in a single shot. Live classified ads, if you will. You may even come across nursing positions that you hadn’t considered but sound interesting.

Fairs are the perfect place to market yourself.  Bring a big stack of resumes and be ready to chat–some employers conduct interviews right at the event.

To find a fair near you, look no further than trusty ‘ol Google. Nursing schools, hospitals, clinics, recruiters, nursing organizations and general job fairs are just a few of the organizations that put on these types of events.

4. Hit the Boards

Job boards are, hands down, the best place to search for your first nursing job in your jammies– without getting strange looks. Here are a few of my favorites:


How is your search going? Have you found the perfect job yet? Share your experiences in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!