The job market for nurses has improved in recent years and nursing experts expect continued job growth. So how do you make the best impression as the best candidate?

Here are six strategies:

1. Know thyself.  

It’s difficult to develop a clear-eyed assessment of an organization’s strengths and weaknesses if you haven’t done a thorough inventory of your own. You can’t truly know what you want in a job unless you have done the necessary self-exploration of who you are and what drives you. If your goals and motivations are unclear, the job you end up with could turn into a nightmare. Job gratification and growth potential should be your highest priorities, even above salary. Even the most expensive of suits is unflattering if it’s a poor fit.

2. Be the employee employers covet.

Articulate your goals, your experience and skills, and how they align with the vision of the company. In your resume, your cover letter, your Linkedin page, and your interviews, plant seeds of possibility, not just for yourself but the future of the organization. Make your aspiration indistinguishable from those of the company. Make your pitch in terms not of what you want, but what the organization needs.

3. Create a stellar resume. 

Keep it professional and concise. Note accomplishments, not just dutiesIn addition to clinical experience that provides quantification of your skills and abilities, give the prospective employer a sense of how you work by highlighting soft skills such as critical thinking,teamwork, and advocacy. Soft skills are essential in the health care environment.

4. Network, network, network.

With the internet comes the temptation to let technology do all the work, an approach that will land you smack dab in the gridlocked masses of online job applicants. Don’t hesitate to make cold calls to desired workplaces. Better yet, cultivate relationships with individuals who work there. Not only will they give you an insider’s perspective on the culture of those organizations, but they’ll tip you off when openings are available.

5. Shine during the interview.

Make your pitch in terms not of what you want, but what the organization needs. Ask memorable questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Practice active listening. Don’t forget handwritten thank you notes after the interview to leave a lingering impression.

6. Earn a BSN.

Advanced education matters. The Institute of Medicine recommended in the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report that 80% of nurses be baccalaureate of nursing science-prepared by 2020. As a result, more employers are hiring nurses who are BSN-prepared, or who are enrolled in an RN-to-BSN program.

With smart preparation, you can stand out before, during, and after an interview. That’s a goal worth pursuing.

Robin Farmer

Robin Farmer covers health, business, and education as a freelance journalist. Visit her online at

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