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How to Distinguish Yourself from Other Nursing Candidates

Completing a Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, such as the one offered fully online by The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), is a monumental accomplishment. However, the excitement can be quickly overshadowed by the search for employment. Fortunately, you can gain the attention of nurse recruiters by distinguishing yourself from other candidates.

Job Searching

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that there will be approximately 203,200 job openings for RNs per year from 2021 through 2031, equating to over two million RN jobs to be filled over the decade. This number reflects new job growth needs and the replacement of nurses leaving the field or retiring.

Given those numbers, newly licensed nurses may expect the search for employment to be relatively straightforward, but competition for entry-level positions may be intense and require nurses to be more proactive in their job search.

Nurses holding a BSN tend to be in higher demand. A 2022 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that 95% of entry-level BSN graduates received offers of employment within six months after degree completion. The same survey reported that nearly 28% of hospitals and other healthcare employers require that new nurse hires are BSN-prepared, while almost 72% strongly prefer it.

Moreover, one of the eligibility requirements of Magnet designation for the nation’s top hospitals is that nurse leaders and managers must have a baccalaureate nursing degree or higher. Clearly, completion of an online RN to BSN program can be an invaluable asset during the employment search.


Besides a BSN, recruiters and hiring managers often seek other key qualifications. Relevant education, training and experience are generally among the top reasons for hiring a candidate. One possible way to draw the attention of recruiters is to clearly list all practical experience on your resume and any professional networking platforms. Include any professional nursing organizations you belong to in your resume.

Clinical rotations, internships and specialized continuing education can 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 mentioned in the job description is another way to demonstrate attention to detail and make your application stand out.

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.

Another aspect of preparing for success in an interview is to ready yourself for various interview environments. For instance, virtual interviews and career fairs are not new, but they became much more common during the COVID-19 pandemic. Practicing for a video call interview can help you feel more comfortable, candid and authentic, all of which will help recruiters get an accurate sense of you as a nurse and person. 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 —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 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 UTA’s online RN to BSN program.

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