“How do I get hired as a new grad NP?” As the owner of Skills On Point, I am frequently asked to answer to this question. As we are in the ambiguous time of an unforeseen pandemic and healthcare reform, new graduate nurse practitioners are entering the workplace that is scarcely resourced and, in a flux, awaiting these elusive “experienced” advanced practice clinicians to fill the jobs. But they do not exist. Either they are hunkered into a position or just simply don’t want the job you are pursuing.
Meanwhile as new grads, low-ball offers come in and you feel as though either you did something wrong in the interview, or perhaps the academic world is pumping out too many nurse practitioners and thereby creating a supply/demand mismatch. Regardless of the number of applicants, the revenue a new-grad nurse practitioner will generate within 24 months of hiring will more than account for their onboarding; yet low-ball offers are being accepted at the rationale that “hey, these student loans won’t pay for themselves”. Then we find out the first job does not fit and it somehow surprises us, yet it was as ungrounded a decision as being wed by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas.
With that in mind, here are several real-world tips from the voice of experience to consider for anyone seeking to enter the workforce in a saturated market.
Tip #1: Don’t buy a tri-level.
It has never been easier to hunt for jobs. Whether you use a third-party website like Indeed.com or Monster.com, or simply go straight to the healthcare organization’s website to find the listing, you can readily find a near-complete listing of the jobs you would be appropriate to consider a “fit” after just a few minutes of searching any geographical area in the US. Realize it was just as easy for you to do this as it would be for your competition. The thing that makes you more fitting is not your ability to perform a google search, but that you know your own professional goals. “I will take anything that comes along” is seldom the mantra of a well-prepared applicant, and I get it: we have bills to pay. But at the end of the day, there are reasons these unfilled jobs are available.
If this were the housing market, and we looked at the job posting date and saw this has been unfilled for 180 days, we would say this house (job) must be absolutely awful. Even in a seller’s market, people do have standards and there must be something unattractive about the environment, physicians, management, corporate culture, or compensation. Face it, this job may be the equivalent of a tri-level and you, my friend, have arthritic knees. If it’s not a fit, it’s not a fit.
Tip #2: To thine own self be true.
I have an assignment for you: Create a survey monkey and anonymously ask your 5 closest friends to be honest and tell you your unique flaws so you can repair them (knowing your inexperience will always be a flaw you cannot repair). That may seem vague, heartless, and uncomfortable, and yet it’s the honest truth you need to hear.
You see, in the US, we live in a unique culture that allows mediocrity at the cost of never offending anyone, and if you want to stand out in a job hiring scenario where you have to be evaluated on your merits, it is worth a dose of honesty. If nobody has ever told you that you come across as lazy on the job, you appear to cut corners, or you lack a certain skill, it’s probably better you hear that and make some internal changes before you find out on your professional references. An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of the cure.
Tip #3: Don’t be a barnacle.
Since it’s true that it’s all WHO you know, let’s start with identifying who YOU know. Many times, the people who will offer you a job and be able to validate you as a great applicant already know you, so network as if paying off your student loans relied on it, because it does. LinkedIn is not optional. You need to be professionally engaged and the sooner the better in your NP or PA program. Skills validation from your peers on LinkedIn acts as quick and visible mechanism to help bolster your CV much like an article that has been peer-reviewed has more credibility. An era when nearly all applications are done digitally is not a time to have a poorly formatted CV or simply to be digitally illiterate. There is simply no excuse if you want to be in contention for the jobs.
Realize you also make more authentic relationships when you have nothing to gain. For example, multi-level marketing relies on existing relationships as a key to its success. If a friend approached you for whatever product they are selling for their side-hustle, you might say no to that lunch since you can assume it’s better than a 50/50 chance of ending up in an awkward conversation being asked to buy a product or host a party. You become Jane, the person who sells bags, rather than Jane the friend.
If you are a nurse practitioner student and you walk up to me and want to be my friend all the sudden, I can assume you want something and it makes it awkward. Meaningful relationships are just that: meaningful. If you want to be entrenched in a culture of expert references for your job, hang around experts in your desired specialty and be an advocate for your own learning, not just someone who obviously is looking for some secondary connection that may be able to feed you a job. I’m far more likely to refer real talent than someone who’s the most desperate.
Tip #4: Start with the man (or woman) in the mirror.
Pretend you are the hiring manager at a clinic. Would you hire you? Why or why not? Make sure you can honestly say you would choose yourself before wasting your time applying. Are you the employee who brings up problems and asks managers to fix all your issues rather than providing actionable solutions? Are you the first to know the company policies on what the minimum is required? Did you know that being a nurse practitioner or “provider” role is reported on a report card for how your patients’ feel you did taking care of them and providing a good experience? Did reading that last sentence make you a little uneasy since you TikTokked while keeping your patent’s awake in the ICU all night? All joking aside, are you truly equipped with the skills needed to succeed without an additional cost or time to train?
Tip #5: (and this is a biggie) Don’t give anyone a reason why they shouldn’t hire you.
Assuming all applicants are equal, very few will stand out. Those that do will do so because they bring something unique that takes the guessing out of success. The people who are already self-motivated and successful people in their current roles will readily pursue the tools of success for future roles as well. Take the opportunity of your clinical time and your pre-clinical time in your program to learn from those whom you consider experts about the skills and talents that are required for the jobs you think you want. Procedural skills like suturing, office procedures, xray interpretation, and EKG interpretation are expected by any new grad, yet many enter the job hunt without any skills, as many academic programs do not cover these as well as students and employers wish they did.
If you want to learn more about what it takes to interview and negotiate successfully as a new grad nurse practitioner, take a look at our course Interviewing and Negotiating for New Grad Nurse Practitioners as well as all our other great courses we offer for new-grad nurse practitioners at www.skillsonpoint.com. You’ll be glad you did and if you follow my advice, so will your future employer.