Once you graduate with your nursing degree, the search for your ideal first career step can seem overwhelming. While some graduates walk straight into a hospital and land the role they have been working towards, it can prove more challenging for others. However, by ensuring that you have the skills and the CV that potential employers are looking for and by taking the right steps, you can give yourself a much better chance of finding gainful employment that matches your aspirations and your new qualification.
While you may want to get straight into paid employment after you graduate, if you have been struggling to even land interviews, then you could consider doing voluntary work, or taking on a short-term contract.
A CV That Stands Out
Alternatively, ensure that any relevant experience you have is marked prominently on your CV. Care work and other related employment history should feature so that recruiters and recruitment staff can easily locate it and will see it. Getting an interview means ensuring that your CV stands out as being one of the best, and some recruiters may receive hundreds or thousands of applications for any single position.
Beyond The NHS
Do apply to your local hospitals and NHS clinics, but don’t be afraid to look beyond the Health Service. There are hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes within the private sector, and local authorities, schools, and even businesses sometimes look for the skills of a professional nurse. Of course, another alternative is to proceed with additional study in order to specialise or to further expand on your existing CV.
Online Job Boards
As well as being able to apply directly, visit websites belonging to the different hospitals and clinics, as well as visiting online job boards. Professional nursing agencies have details of nursing jobs across the country that are relevant to your qualifications and the career that you want to pursue.
NHS Nursing Careers
Some graduates are still unsure of exactly what they want to do. As well as researching your options directly, speaking to nurses and former tutors, the NHS What Can I Do With My Degree? website provides up-to-date information on the various career paths that are open to you, while the separate NHS Jobs site also lists some of the roles that are open within the Health Service.
Various roles within different organisations have different pay, benefits, and even working conditions. A new graduate can expect to earn around £22,000 and earn up to £28,000 as a band 5, although working in London or working unsociable hours can see this figure increase. Becoming a matron or nurse consultant means that you could, with experience and additional training and qualifications, earn as much as £60,000. Working in the private sector typically attracts similar pay scales, but not always, and pension and other benefit schemes may also differ.
Your Best Opportunities
The NHS is the country’s largest employer, and so it is common for most nursing graduates to work for the group at some point in their career. Hospitals and clinics are found in most cities, major towns, and many smaller towns, as well as some villages and rural areas. However, it is easier to find work in larger towns and cities because of the greater demand for healthcare in these areas.
It is unlikely that you will land the first job that you apply for, although it does happen. Keep sending applications, apply directly by sending your CV and covering letter, and make the most of the contacts that you made during your placements and your study. You may find out about job openings that are not freely advertised on the Internet and this could help you to secure the ideal first placement.
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Brit Peacock is a journalism graduate that blogs on a variety of topics and takes a particular interest in writing about health-related issues. He has been published across a range of health websites, both in the UK and US. In his spare time Brit enjoys walking in nature and takes a keen interest in animal welfare, being involved in various animal protection groups and campaigns.