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7 Tips to Improve Your Nursing Job Search

Whether you just graduated nursing school or are a seasoned nurse seeking a change, looking for a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical/vocational (LPN/LVN) job can feel daunting. One thing we all have in common when we take on the task of a job search is that anticipatory nervous-excitement feeling. Thinking of entering the workforce as a new graduate nurse or switching your workplace as a senior nurse is a big moment. There are lots of unknowns in the process. We want to help make your nurse job search easier and more enjoyable by steering you in the right direction.

Here are 7 tips to help you prepare for a successful job search:

Travel staffing

1. Define What You Want in a Nursing Job

This tip may seem basic because, clearly, you want a job. But the more specific you can get, the easier it will be to narrow your search for the perfect nursing job. Before you begin, you must know exactly what you’re looking for. Otherwise, how are you supposed to find it? We recommend putting your list of wants and needs into writing. This list helps bring your goals to the forefront, enables you to hone in on your needs and helps you get your desired job. Some things to consider include:

Salary Expectations:

Education and Speciality:

  • Do you hold a certificate, degree or doctorate?
  • Do you qualify to work in a specialty?
  • Are you hoping to work somewhere that offers educational opportunities?


  • Do you want to stay in your current state or move?
  • Do you want to work in a big city hospital or a rural center?


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2. Update and Improve Your Resume

A good nurse resume tells the employer why they should hire you. Ensure your resume includes everything you want to convey to the employer about your relevant skillset, education, experience and qualifications. Present this in an informative and concise way to make you stand out from other applicants. Most resumes you send to potential employers have similar attributes, skills and experience. But it’s essential to make certain tweaks based on the job you’re applying for.

For example, if you worked as a manager at a busy restaurant before your nursing career, including that in your resume may not be vital if you’re going for a floor position. However, if you’re applying for a management position, it could be beneficial to add that you have experience working in a leadership role outside your nursing experience. Likewise, if you’re looking for a top-paying med-surg nursing job, discussing any extra education you’ve obtained and highlighting your qualifications working in this area is essential. You should discuss the skills you possess that are necessary for working on a med-surg floor, which would likely differ slightly from the skills needed for a long-term care facility job.

RELATEDHow to Build a Winning Resume

3. Write a Cover Letter

When there’s an option to include a cover letter, your chances greatly increase if you customize your cover letter based on the employer. Discuss why you want to work for their organization and what drew you to apply to them. Round out your cover letter by explaining why they need you on their team. Remember, the basis of a solid cover letter is to praise the employer and organization, then discuss your attributes and why you would be an invaluable and indispensable member of their team.

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4. Research Potential Employers

Use the availability of online information to your advantage for your RN or LPN nurse job search. With so many choices of healthcare facilities and employers to work for, it’s a smart idea to vet the employer before you apply. The hiring process can sometimes be long and rigorous. Before you begin, ensure you’re applying to an employer that aligns with your values and has a good track record. The same goes if you’re working with a nurse agency. Finding the best travel nurse agency for you and your needs is important. A few things to consider when vetting a potential employer include:

  • Understanding their pay scale and if it falls within your desired wage
  • Reading honest reviews of the company from other healthcare professionals
  • Researching the employer’s website to learn its mission, core values and other relevant facts
  • Learning about the company to better tailor your resume and cover letter

Many top healthcare employers throughout the United States use Vivian Health for recruitment. Our employer platform offers an impartial examination of what these employers offer their employees. We do this by providing unbiased information and authentic employer reviews. You can view details for nearly 8,000 healthcare facilities, almost 1,000 health systems and over 700 staffing agencies. Learn more about what each employer offers, including the number of jobs posted on Vivian and average response time, plus read any reviews available. Narrow your search by filtering your results by:

  • Job Type
  • Discipline Supported
  • Speciality Supported
  • Job Locations
  • Benefits

Learning more about potential employers helps you check all the boxes and find what you’re looking for in your RN job search. Knowledge is power, so don’t forget to check out average salaries in the area(s) you’re considering. If you’re well informed regarding nursing wages, you know whether you’re being compensated appropriately for your skillset, helping you land a high-paying travel nurse job or the best travel LPN job

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5. Prepare for a Nurse Job Interview

Vivian Studio 2237 - Nursing interview questions

Here comes that nervous-excited feeling again. Wondering who the interviewer will be, whether you’ll make a good impression, the questions they’ll ask and whether you’ll have the right answers. You’ll also be concerned about whether the interviewer will ask more clinical or board questions. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know, so the best thing you can do is be prepared.

Studying commonly asked nursing job interview questions and insights into what employers want to hear is a great way to start. Of course, adding your flair and being authentic and honest with your answers is crucial. Employers aren’t looking for perfect nurses. They want to add nurses to their team with critical thinking and problem-solving skills and team players who want to continue learning and strengthening their abilities. Incorporate these attributes into your answers with real-life examples, and you should do fine.

RELATED: How to Answer Common Nursing Interview Questions: Part 1

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6. Explore Job Boards

Job boards or job search engines have become a popular way to find and filter jobs by location, salary and occupation. Still, many general job boards will have you searching for hours to find that perfect nursing job. The magnitude of job postings on general job boards creates the potential to serial apply to many jobs that aren’t best suited for you, hoping to find something. Niche job boards offer a more ideal place to start your nurse job hunt. 

The main benefit of using a healthcare jobs marketplace to find your next job is that it streamlines the process and enables you to find your dream job quicker and easier. You don’t have to wade through a ton of ads that aren’t for you; instead, invest your time into a job board that gets results.

Vivian has become a national leader as a niche healthcare and allied health job market resource and job board. This recognition is due in part to our dedication to salary transparency. We provide real salaries from actual jobs posted on our website, so you know upfront what you’ll earn in every position, and we’re always adding jobs. As of June 15, 2023, Vivian Health had almost 150,000 open jobs posted, with about half of them new jobs that were posted just within the previous week.

Vivian’s job board provides targeted filters you can use to find the jobs you seek quicker. You can narrow your search by discipline, specialty, location and job type. Your results populate with pertinent information to help you decide if the job looks right for you, such as shift type, rate, location, description and benefits.

7. Follow Up with Potential Employers

Following up with potential employers is crucial in the nurse job search process and can help you stand out from other job candidates. After submitting your application and completing an interview, demonstrate your continued interest and professionalism by initiating a well-timed follow-up to leave a lasting impression on the nurse hiring manager.

Send a personalized thank-you email or letter within 24 to 48 hours of your interview expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and reiterating your interest in the job. This gesture serves two purposes. It shows your appreciation and serves as a reminder of your qualifications. If you don’t hear back within a reasonable timeframe, it’s acceptable to follow up once more with a polite inquiry as to the status of your application. However, avoid excessive follow-up attempts that could make you appear pushy or desperate.

Define what you want in a nursing job and take actionable steps to get there quicker and easier than ever before. Whether you’re new to nursing or a seasoned nurse needing a change, sign up for a Vivian Universal Profile and begin getting tailored jobs to suit your skill set and credentials today.

Amanda Farquharson, BSN, RN

Amanda Farquharson, BSN, RN is a registered nurse, travel nurse, writer and wellness warrior. She practices from a holistic lens with a focus on health promotion and prevention. Amanda has been actively engaged with the wellness community for over 15 years, supporting and developing activities that strengthen individuals' and communities' emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.

Comments (2)

I’m a BSC nurse with an MSC in nutrition. I am passionate on holistic health and promoting health. I need your assistance.


Hello Yezay, and thanks for reaching out! If you have questions or need help with your Vivian profile or any other aspects of our website, including searching for a job, please don’t hesitate to go to the “Contact Vivian” option under the Resources tab to speak with our 24/7 help desk. We’d be happy to help!


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