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As A NP | Job Hunting Tips for the New Graduate Nurse Practitioner

Hi friends! I have been on the job hunt for the past few months, and I am excited to say that, after several interviews, I have finally landed a nurse practitioner (NP) job! I actually landed the job a little over 1 month ago, but only got around to working on this post this week. Landing the job was not easy, to say the least. It definitely took some time learning the in's and out's of the nurse practitioner job hunt process and expectations.

At first glance, you might think that it should be pretty easy to get a nurse practitioner job, right? I mean, there are several positions, people always talk about how nurse practitioners are in demand now, and etc.

It's actually not as simple as it seems. First off, it is pretty much like being a new graduate registered nurse again. Remember those days where you applied to jobs but no one wanted to hire you (let alone give you an interview) because you had no experience? Or maybe employers just ghosted you from the get-go or had their system automatically reject your application because you lacked the minimum amount of experience? Well, I'm unhappy to report that this is pretty much what goes on in the job hunt as a new graduate nurse practitioner (with some exceptions, of course). We are new grads after all, so we don't have the experience wanted for some of the jobs. You'll run into a few posts where experience is "preferred" and those are the chances you want to take.

If you're looking for a job in a popular area (like a big city) or in a specialty area, you will either not find the job in the specialty area you want or won't have the experience most places want you to have. If you decide to be picky about these two things (like me), then brace yourself for a lot of rejections and ghosting. Be ready to have patience as you wait. But, as they say, if there's a will, there's a way!

My classmates who were successful in landing jobs before graduation landed jobs in more rural areas and in primary care, or in specialty areas but because they had connections (ie. they were already working for that hospital as an RN -- and have been for years!). If you have no connections and want to be choosy about where you live, then you'll need to have some patience.

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Two Options for Your First Job

As a new graduate nurse practitioner, you have two options for the job hunt. You can just get a job. The pros are getting your career started, getting paid, having health insurance, possibly having malpractice insurance, and possibly having retirement savings going. The cons are that you might not necessarily get to start out in an area or specialty you want, and you might not get as much time for training before being expected to have your own panel of patients.

You can also opt to do a fellowship program designed for NPs and physician assistants (PAs). The pros are getting additional paid training in a specialty area, having a "job" during the training time, and possibly getting preference for hiring if positions open up at the end of your training (the facility did train you in their way, after all). The cons are possibly being "stuck" in that specialty, taking a pay cut during the training year, and being unbenefitted (the facility might not offer you health insurance or retirement benefits).

Fellowships for NPs are very competitive, and most programs only take a few NPs per year. The one I applied to takes a maximum of 2 fellows per year. In California specifically, there are a lot more primary care fellowships (or residencies) than specialty fellowships. More of the specialty fellowships can be found out-of-state, but those require you to move and change the state you're licensed in. This is something that may or may not be feasible for everyone, depending on their situation. Being an FNP applying for specialty fellowships is even tougher, as most places prioritize acute care (AGAC) certified nurse practitioners.

Like with all things, it's important to do your research prior to applying to fellowships. The application and interview process takes time, and the worst thing is to waste your time and effort completing additional training in something you're not even interested in. Also, in the meanwhile of waiting for these, you probably could land a job and be on your way to working.

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Six Job Hunting Tips for New Graduate NPs

Most of the tips I'll be sharing with you are things you can do well before you graduate. Of course, if you still haven't landed anything by or after graduation, most of these tips can still apply.

  1. [Before Graduating] Network with your preceptors. Treat each and every rotation you're on like a job interview. Remember, you're being observed. Not every rotation will equate to a job offer. But know that the possibility is there, so why not make use of this opportunity? The best case is that you snag a job before graduation. The worst? Having to do what you were already planning to do post-graduation -- study for boards and continue the job hunt!
  2. Know and use job search engines to your advantage. Job search engines that I have used personally and been helpful with getting responses from potential employers are Indeed, Ziprecruiter, the California Association of Nurse Practitioners (CANP) job board, and the American Nurses Association (ANA) job board. About 8 months before graduation, I set up an account on each of these websites, and I set search engine notifications so that I get daily digests of new job postings. I know. Eight months in advanced is so early, but it's a good way to start looking at job postings and what employers are looking for. It's also a good way to get an idea of what kind of jobs there are out there too.
  3. Have everything ready. Yes, everything -- your resume/CV, cover letter, letters of recommendations, awards/accomplishments, a reference list, your certificates and licenses! For certificates and licenses, make sure you have your ACLS and BLS (at the minimum) renewed and not nearing expiration. Make sure that your RN license is active. If you're job hunting after graduation, you can give your potential employer's a head's up by putting a little blurb on your resume/CV about when you're taking your boards and/or when you expect to have your state license and furnishing license processed (I'm assuming that the people who are not job hunting after graduation have already landed something). This is something I did that got a lot of my applications to the interview stage. If you need help with your resume, see the section below!
  4. Keep it professional. If you haven't already, do a Google search of yourself. What kind of articles or images did you find? It's definitely a good idea to be aware of what's out there prior to the job hunt. When this piece is done, create a LinkedIn account and start connecting with recruiters. Let them know that you're looking and open to opportunities. In my experience, you may not necessarily get NP jobs coming your way (although you'll get tons for RN positions...because we're experienced now!), but you just never know when some recruiter for NP's out there will find your profile. Plus, it add another professional link when human resources looks you up on Google (how about that for a win?). If you haven't already, be sure to join the local chapter of your state nurse practitioner association. For California, it is the California Association for Nurse Practitioners (CANP). Go to the local chapter meetings and attend some of the state conferences. You just never know who you might connect with!
  5. Be ready to negotiate. You've heard it from your school (hopefully) or from other nurse practitioners out there about how you have to negotiate...for everything! If the position is part of a larger company/hospital system, you will most likely be unable to negotiate, since they already have a set compensation system/tier in place. For those of you who are at the "job offer" stage and who do need to negotiate, these are some things to think about and consider:
    1. Your salary - Check Glassdoor or Indeed to get an idea of salary averages for your job title in your area. Don't get low-balled!
    2. The amount of training time you get
    3. If you get any "admin" time and how much of that you get - Admin time is typically paid time you get to catch up on charting.
    4. Continuing medical education (CME) Stipend - Helpful for conference costs
    5. Malpractice insurance - Recommend coverage that includes tail
    6. Paying for your DEA license
    7. Amount of PTO time
    8. How the bonus structure works
    9. Any calls you're expected to take
  6. Advocate for yourself. When speaking to a recruiter or during your interview, if the job doesn't feel right to you then you might want to think twice before accepting the offer. I know. It's a tough market out there already to get a job as a new graduate nurse practitioner. But the worst thing you can do is to set yourself up for failure and getting yourself legally trapped by your employer. For example, red flags to me on job postings as a new graduate nurse practitioner are posts that say you have to sign a contract for four or more years. I'm not saying that it's okay to sign a contract for jobs for three or fewer years. But you have to think (and wonder), why does that employer want me to sign a contract for that long? What is it about that workplace that is causing retention to be an issue? I know that the job search can get overwhelming, but that's my two cents on some food for thought. You can also check out an article I've linked on the "Nurse Practitioner" tab about reasons to turn down a job offer.

Free Resume Resource

Want a free resume look over? I will preface this by saying that I'm no resume expert or guru, but I have had my resume looked over by hiring managers and peers and have learned several resume do's and don't's over the years (from pre-nursing until now). I've helped some of my peers and classmates land jobs, and I'd love to help you too! If you want your resume looked at and critiqued, feel free to email me your resume. You can find my email in the "Contact" tab.

Good luck with the job hunt, friends!

Nicole G.
@nextwithnicole // @nursenicoleg

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