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How to Distinguish Yourself from Other Nursing Candidates

Completing your degree program is a monumental accomplishment. However, the excitement can be quickly overshadowed as the search for employment begins. Fortunately, you can gain the attention of nurse recruiters by distinguishing yourself from other candidates.

Job Searching

To satisfy industry demands, the American Nurses Association (ANA) estimates that the healthcare system will require approximately 1.13 million new nurses from 2012 through 2022. This number reflects new job growth needs as well as the replacement of nurses leaving the field or retiring.

Given those numbers, newly licensed nurses may expect the search for employment to be a relatively straightforward process, but competition for entry-level positions may be intense and require nurses to be more proactive in their job search. Nurses holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) tend to be in higher demand. A 2012 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that 88 percent of entry-level BSN graduates received offers of employment within six months after degree completion. The same survey reported that nearly 40 percent of employers require that new hires are BSN-prepared, while 77 percent of employers strongly prefer it. Completion of an online RN to BSN program can be an invaluable asset during the search for employment.


Besides a BSN, recruiters and hiring managers often look for other key qualifications. According to a 2013 CareerBuilder Healthcare survey, lack of relevant education, training or experience landed among the top reasons for not hiring a particular candidate. One possible way to draw the attention of recruiters is to clearly list all practical experience on your resume as well as on any professional networking platforms. Clinical rotations, internships and any specialized continuing education can help to set you apart from the competition and showcase your commitment to the profession. Recommendation letters — particularly from professors, instructors or contacts at internship locations — can reinforce your willingness to learn, positive attitude and clinical expertise.

When applying for positions, applicants should customize each resume for the specific position they are applying for. Incorporating the keywords and qualifications that are mentioned in the job description is another way to make your application stand out and it demonstrates attention to detail.

Interviewing and Hiring

Once a recruiter or potential employer expresses interest, an interview is the next likely step. Due to the changing landscape of healthcare, specific skills are in high demand and the interview is an ideal time to exhibit those characteristics. For example, nurses who are bilingual, possess leadership and critical thinking capabilities, and are familiar with electronic medical records (EMRs) may be more desirable to employers. The interview is also an opportunity to reiterate your educational background. Make a point to follow-up with the nursing recruiter after the interview. A quick email once a week to check on the status of your application is another way to display your continued interest.

After an applicant receives and accepts a job offer, they should continue to distinguish themselves from other candidates. Professionalism during every phase of the recruiting process — all the way through hiring and beyond — is essential. The first weeks and months of a new position can be demanding, but staying focused and positive under these stressful circumstances may make a valuable and lasting impression on your coworkers and supervisors. Nurses who are willing to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and learn new techniques and disciplines may have more opportunities going forward. Demonstrating flexibility, confidence and a team attitude during this probationary period may help to further elevate your status.

Worth the Effort

Following degree completion, gaining the attention of nurse recruiters and navigating the hiring process can prove challenging. However, remaining proactive and professional can help to set you apart from other candidates to find a well-suited nursing position.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online RN to BSN program.


Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses. (2019, August). Retrieved from

Extended Vacancies Taking Toll on Majority of Health Care Organizations, According to CareerBuilder Survey. (2013, August 15). Retrieved from

Fast Facts – The Nursing Workforce 2014: Growth, Salaries, Education, Demographics & Trends. (2014, August). Retrieved from

What Do Recruiters Look for in Nursing Job Candidates? (2014, September). Retrieved from

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