Congratulations on graduating with your masters in nursing! After many months of hard work, you deserve a job that will be engaging, rewarding, and a good match for your personality and skills. Whether that is with your current employer or a new healthcare organization, navigating the job market as a newly minted MSN graduate can be tricky without the right plan in place.
“Having an advanced nursing degree can open a lot of doors,” says Katie Niekrash, a Vice President within ES Healthcare, a division of The Execu|Search Group. “However, this quickly can become overwhelming. Since there are a number of different paths you can pursue, you don’t want to start applying to jobs without a plan or a purpose. Instead, it’s important to take a step back and really think about what you want the next phase of your nursing career to look like.”
To help you get started, here are four ways to approach your next move:
Understand your options
Once you’ve earned your masters in nursing, you will have more opportunities to expand your responsibilities in your chosen area of specialty. As a result, now is the time to decide what you want to do with your new degree. “Regardless of their specialty, nurses with their MSN typically work in the same types of facilities,” notes Katie. “Whether this is a hospital, a physician practice or long-term care facility, it’s important to decide what type of setting you want to target and are qualified to work in before embarking on a job search.” To do this, Katie recommends educating yourself on local market trends, including the most in-demand positions and skillsets.
Update your resume
One of the first steps you should take after you attain your masters in nursing is to update your resume. This is especially true if you have not been in the job market for quite some time. “To position yourself for more advanced nursing opportunities, you need to ensure your resume reflects all your up-to-date skills and certifications,” advises Katie. “Start by adding relevant projects and updating your headline to make it clear that you completed your MSN. Then, ensure your resume includes all relevant languages, volunteer work, industry memberships, and rotations.”
Utilize your network
Many nurses overlook the value of their network when applying to their first job post-grad school. “Now is a great time to not only talk to your current supervisor about internal opportunities, but also reach out to former managers and colleagues who have made a similar transition,” advises Katie. “It’s helpful to gain insight from individuals who have once been in your shoes. In addition to guiding you on next steps you should be taking in your career, they may also be able to connect you with opportunities you might not have heard of otherwise!”
Similarly, a nursing recruiter can be an excellent resource to have in your network. “From educating you on market trends to setting salary expectations, we’re here for you whether or not you’re actively job searching,” says Katie.
Be patient and keep the big picture in mind
Now that you have your masters in nursing, you might be eager to jump to the next level of your career. “While you may feel ready, an MSN doesn’t necessarily mean you have the experience an employer is looking for,” says Katie. “If your goal is to be a director, for example, you need to be able to handle budgeting. If you don’t have any experience with it, you first need to figure out how to build these skills.”
As a result, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind as you think about your next career move. “Rather than focusing on factors such as compensation and job title, keep your long-term career goals at the forefront,” advises Katie. “It’s important to understand how new opportunities can serve as stepping stones for accomplishing your long-term goals. While this strategy requires a little patience, it will help you build the foundation of skills you need to advance your career.”