Nurse Portfolio 101
I was recently helping one of my mentees prepare for her job interview & application process. I realized that this information could help so many new grad nurses in similar situations. The job application process can be daunting to say the least. From trying to find the job, applying to a job, creating a quality portfolio, mastering an interview, and hoping to land that dream job….whew! Now try to do all of this in 2021...modern day nursing amidst a pandemic. So, I thought I would give you the “real tea,” on all things New Grad Nurse Job application.
Let's get into how to land your dream nursing job!
Should I know anything specific about the organization I applied to for the interview?
This is an often overlooked step, and the answer is yes. You need to spend time researching the organization you have applied to. (I get it, sometimes it is tough to find information, but do your best). It is always better to be overly prepared. Is the organization a magnet hospital? What are the core values of the organization? You can also impress your interviewer by asking them a question in your interview about the culture of the organization!
Should I Obtain Certifications / PALS / BLS / ACLS / NRP?
Always assume someone went the EXTRA MILE to land the job you want! Think of it this way, just as athletes put in extra hours & practice when no one is watching, nurses should operate with a similar mindset. If you made it through nursing school, you have GRIT, use it and go that extra mile. Find extra opportunities if possible in the specialty you seek, as anything you can do to land the job you want will be important when your resume is compared to others'. Certifications are a great way to boost the resume and prove to your future employers that you have what it takes! While it is possible that your employer may have you re-do the certification once you're hired…who cares! Repetition will only benefit you by building confidence and reinforcing the skill. It is absolutely worth it to have a certification(s) and hold an edge over your competition!
Should I make a LinkedIn profile?
No matter what career you want to be in, a LinkedIn profile is a must in 2021. Your LinkedIn profile will help a manager, HR rep, etc. put a face to a name and will make you more memorable. While it is true that not every employer will use this as a resource, you may want to utilize it for building a network of like-minded, professional connections and for possible job searches down the road in your career. Your profile should include a professional picture, along with your educational achievements (school, honors, projects, volunteer), certifications, etc.
Social Media…does this really matter when I am applying to jobs?
Yes. Clean it up! It doesn't matter if your profile is private either. Keep it classy and refrain from posting anything that could be perceived at all negatively. Possible employers will not waste their time on potential candidates that they believe have poor character and will not fit the organization's core values and professional culture. When you are applying to jobs, keep it all professional and think before you hit post!
Should my Resume be 1 or 2 pages?
The rule of thumb is to keep your resume at one page, as managers care less about the second page. All of the important information needs to be on the front page. In all honesty, my resume ended up being two pages when I applied to my new grad nurse position. If you have the extracurriculars, pertinent certificates and volunteer experience by all means include it on the second page if needed rather than leaving it out. If you go to two pages, make the highlight reel on the first page. You will want to make sure that your resume is also visually appealing and in an easy to read font and format. From a glance, the manager who is reviewing your resume should be able to determine your most important attributes front and center.
How do I find the “actual” job listing? It is hard to know when to apply and the official name of the job.
1. Call HR! They are the gate keepers. Inquire when the New Grad Residency (Versant program, Clinical Nurse I) positions will open up and mark your calendar.
2. Ask HR what the official name of the job position will be.
3. Sign up for the job notifications so you don't miss your window.
4. Sign up & create a profile on the organization job application website.
Should I call HR or manager to inquire about my job application status?
Both management & HR are VERY busy. In due time, I promise they will get to you. I would suggest sending the manager a thank you note & or emailing him/her a thank you so that you are fresh in their mind. If you send a thank you, keep it brief and to the point and mention that you are looking forward to hearing back soon and are grateful for the opportunity. Sending a thank you a day or two after your interview is a nice idea to let them know how thankful you are for the opportunity & your desire to join their unit. (HINT: make sure to get the manager’s card or contact information at the end of the interview, or look through the emails they sent you to obtain the manager’s mailing address or email). You will not want to seem demanding or overbearing, so make sure to let them contact you after sending the initial thank you.
Do you have tips on interviewing? (NICU, PICU, CVICU, ICU, Med Surge, Oncology, Clinic, etc.)
Let’s talk about the entire reason for an interview. The bottom line is that they want to know if you will be a good fit for the unit/setting. Do they like you? How qualified are you (with your limited time as a nurse) to start on their unit? So, that being said, focus on why you want to be there in the first place! Communicate why you believe they should they hire you (over the person interviewing next) by sharing your key competencies. Also, Practice. Practice. Practice! Practice interviewing until you are blue in the face. Practice in the shower, on your drive, in front of your mom. Practice until your stories come so naturally that you can’t possibly forget them. You've got this!
Is it beneficial to communicate with someone I know on the unit prior? Ask them to vouch for me? (Family friend, Preceptor, Cousin, etc.)
If you know someone on the unit, yes it can be beneficial to touch base, inquire about application dates, and ask about any highlights you should know about the unit. As far as “vouching for you,” to the management team, tread lightly, as that should only be suggested by the person you know. In addition, keep in mind, some people have a GREAT relationship with their management team and others do NOT. Therefore, the person you are in touch with may not be the best to “vouch.” It pays to be self-aware on this one.
What do I include in a Portfolio?
Let’s talk the purpose of a portfolio. A portfolio is the extended highlight reel and extension of your resume. A properly prepared portfolio will give you the “edge” over your competition. Honestly, I have only used my portfolio 3 times out of 8 different job interviews. For your first job, a portfolio is a MUST. Why? This is a supplemental tool for you to use in order to speak to and solidify your job application. Below is a bulleted list / outline of what to include in your portfolio.
You create it. You practice with it. You speak to it.
A portfolio is a TOOL to use in order to help you pull together stories and experiences, as well as ultimately ease your nerves for your interview. I suggest practicing your interviews with the portfolio. Due to current circumstances with virtual interviewing, you may not be able to share the portfolio with the management team as easily, however, use it as a tool to help you interview!
What should I include in my Portfolio? Let me give you the deets!
Resume (Shop Template)
Cover Letter (Shop Template)
University (Copy of your Degree)
Professional References (Shop Template)
I hope these tips help you as you work to land your dream job as a new grad nurse! I believe in you!!! Xo
Tori Meskin BSN RNC-NIC. Nurse. Blogger. Podcaster. Tori has been a clinician since 2012, works in acute care/inpatient NICU & Pediatric settings in southern California. She is a blogger, podcaster, NICU & Pediatric Critical Care RN, Sponsored Capella University MSN student, a Barco Uniforms Ambassador & Brave beginnings Ambassador. She has obtained her National NICU Nurse Certification (RNC-NIC) & has previously worked as a travel nurse, pursuing bedside experiences in several NICU settings. Follow her as she shares her NICU journey married life & juggles work, school, content creation, & brings you top notch Tips & Tricks along the way. Find her at www.tipsfromtori.com or email@example.com Instagram @nurse.tori_