Every year in May or June, and again in December, I hold a career workshop for St. Vincent’s College students who are about to graduate. Some are just weeks away from earning their associate’s degree in nursing. Many are graduating from St. Vincent’s online RN-BSN program. After all the long hours of study and months of clinical experience, these RNs are eager to start their nursing careers. And they all have one urgent question in common: How do I find a nursing job?
St. Vincent’s College offers its nursing graduates an outstanding array of tools and resources to support their careers.
The career workshops are just the beginning. Every student receives a packet of information to help them in their search:
- Resume writing guidelines
- Sample resumes and cover letters
- Networking tips
- A list of nursing job websites, and much more
One-on-one help is also available. Launching a job search for that first nursing job may seem daunting in the beginning, but with this kind of support, our students are off to a good start. They can be confident that they’ll find a job that is the right match for them.
Job search tips for the new AS nurse and RN-BSN graduates
Let me share with you some of the top questions and concerns that come up for our students:
What if I have no professional nursing experience for my nursing resume?
Use your practicum experience. Analyze the work you did, the actions you took, the way you made decisions, and describe the work you did for your clinical training. Check out the list of verbs in our resume handout and see which ones you can honestly use to describe your work.
What if my previous job experience was unrelated to nursing?
For many of our students, nursing is a second career. Their job backgrounds might be in information technology, retail or hospitality. I encourage these grads to pull out the finer points of their experience and show how the skills they learned in the past can apply to nursing. For example, computer skills can be very useful in the nursing field. If you worked in the hospitality business, your ability to develop rapport with customers will be relevant to nursing.
How do I go about networking—and why is this so important?
It’s very important because these days, many jobs are filled through word-of-mouth before they are posted on job boards. This is especially true the higher up the ladder you go. These positions are often called “the hidden job market.” To get an early lead on upcoming positions in an organization, you need to know someone who works there. You’ll find excellent advice on how to build your professional network in our booklet on Developing Effective Job Search Skills.
I often refer to my personal job-hunting experience during the career workshops. I used to be a high school math teacher. Then I got my master’s and became a computer programmer. I worked on a freelance, contract-basis and always had to keep my resume up to date. Later I taught math, business English, computer science and Microsoft Office skills at the college level. I became St. Vincent’s librarian in 2009 and also teach math and information systems here. I can safely say that I have to put into practice all the career advice that I give out to students!