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Preparing for your first job

Advice for student and newly qualified nurses

Now that you're coming to the end of your nurse training it's probably time to start thinking about making your first career move. Make sure you're job ready with our helpful hints and tips.

Organise your CV and portfolio now

Don’t wait until you’ve got a job application deadline looming over you. Prepare your CV and portfolio in advance now.

A lot of employers give a very narrow window in which to apply, with some vacancies closing early if a lot of applications are received. Such a deadline may fall within the same week as a jam-packed placement or right before an essay due date. The more you can do in advance in the better. If you want advice about writing your first CV, see here.

Informal visits

Don’t be scared about arranging an informal visit to a workplace beforehand. Not only can it make you stand out and look keen, but it's a perfect opportunity to get a real feel for the work culture and environment.

Prepare some questions to ask for when you do visit. Ask people what they like about working there and always ask about what support will be available to you as a newly qualified nurse.

Research your employers

Always research your employers. It’s likely that they will be involved in projects, pilots, initiatives, etc. Maybe they’ve just recently opened a new service or department. Asking questions or talking these through during informal visits or interviews could win you brownie points.

Also look to see if they’ve got any company values or visions. These will give you vital clues as to what the organisation is looking for in a candidate, and likely to reflect the framework for their recruitment scoring system. 

Make sure it’s the right job for you

Choose a job that is right for you, your skill set, your personality and your values. You might want to have a look at our career values worksheet to help you identify and reflect on what your values are.

You definitely want to be doing your homework with regards to the level and depth of support you will be offered if you are successful in securing a job. Check what resources would be available to help you with your transition from student to newly qualified nurse. You'll want an employer that can offer you a robust preceptorship programme and nurturing learning environment. 

Keep up to date with healthcare initiatives

Employers may ask you about healthcare initiatives during interview and will expect you to know. Could you explain what the Francis Report was? What do you know about the “duty of candour?” Do you know what the 6 C’s are?

Use the RCN’s newsletters, publications, campaigns and professional networks to help you keep up to date and in the loop.

Get social media savvy

Social media can be a great way of keeping up with healthcare news and initiatives, networking and even finding jobs. It’s imperative that you make sure that any social media profile or presence you have is professional and appropriate. You will be expected to uphold the reputation of the nursing profession at all times.

Double check all of your privacy settings and make sure that any photos, content and/or views expressed are in line with the NMC code and local policies. It’s recommended that you run your name and/or any usernames past a search engine to check what comes up. 

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Students: Thinking about your career

As a student nurse, you can use this resource for guidance on choosing and applying for your first role as a registered nurse.

CV writing for student & newly qualified nurses

Advice for student and newly qualified nurses on writing your first nursing CV.