COVID19,  Nurse,  Nursing Profession,  Nursing School,  Student Nurses,  Uncategorized

Graduating Nursing School in 2021? 5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart from the Rest

If you are graduating nursing school in 2021, it is important to focus on your future and take steps to set yourself apart. You have already faced incredible challenges head-on and, if you’ve made it this far, nothing can stop you. Keep reading to discover a few ways to set yourself apart from the rest.

Landing your first job as a new nursing school graduate has never been without challenges. Embarking on a new career is overwhelming, and there is a lot to learn in your first weeks, months, and even years on the job. Now, in light of COVID-19, the struggles are even greater. Nursing school students missed out on countless clinical hours. And those who were still able to provide bedside care, as students, will forever carry the emotional, psychological, and physical trauma of treating patients during a pandemic like nothing anyone alive today has ever experienced.

graduating nursing school in 2021
Source: Rob Marmion/


Apply for the Right First Nursing Job

When you finally get your diploma and cannot wait to put on your new nurse scrub dress and head to work, you may be tempted to submit applications everywhere. This likely isn’t the best course of action, though. Instead, take the time to dig deep and figure out what type of position you are truly interested in. Spend a few moments reflecting on what is right for you in terms of:

  • Facility type
  • Shift
  • Patient population
  • Culture
  • Future goals

Once you have established a solid idea of what exactly you are looking for, you will have a much easier time with the next step: optimizing your application.

Optimize Your Application


Submitting the same standard application for every job you are interested in is fast and easy. It will do nothing to set you apart from other candidates, though. Instead, you need to optimize your application to ensure that it makes an impression.

Start by crafting a winning resume that showcases your qualifications and lets recruiters know why you are a better choice than someone else who has the exact same qualifications. Your resume should be streamlined and to the point. It should also, however, highlight your skills and relevant personal traits.

When possible, connect with a recruiter or member of the leadership team directly before or when submitting an application. This adds a personal touch and will let your application apart from the rest. If possible, set up a shadow experience or look for other opportunities to get your foot in the door.

Consider Learning New Skills

When you are a nurse, the learning does not stop when you earn your diploma. In addition to mandated participation in ongoing education, it is also a wise idea to learn new skills that could set you apart from other applications. Certain skills are in high demand due to the ever-changing landscape of healthcare and, if you possess those skills, you are much more likely to get hired than someone who does not.

Whether you speak more than one language, are familiar with electronic medical records (EMRs), or have taken a course or two in leadership or critical thinking, you will be a few steps ahead of other candidates.


Nail the Interview

Nail the interview
Source: Robert Kneschke/

Whether you are called in for a face-to-face interview or are interviewed via video conferencing due to COVID, the general rules remain the same. Dress appropriately, answer questions thoughtfully and truthfully, and ask your own questions.

Before the interview, spend some time doing your homework on the job and the facility. Make sure you have a crystal-clear understanding of what role you are being interviewed for. Study up on the background of the person (or people) with whom you will be interviewing. Research the facility’s mission, values, and visions. Read up on its reputation, too.

During the interview, don’t just talk about your nursing qualifications. Let your soft skills shine, too. Your communication, interpersonal, listening, and time management skills all play a vital role in the workplace, and they can be just as important as job-specific skills.

As a nurse, for example, having great time management skills and a knack for working with people are huge pluses that are definitely worth mentioning during your interview. Don’t just tell the interviewer that you possess these skills. Instead, showcase how you put them to use when handling a specific situation.

Maintain Professionalism During All Stages of the Recruiting Process

It is vital to maintain a professional attitude through all stages of the recruiting process – even after you’re been hired. The first few days and weeks in your new position will likely be grueling. It is crucial, though, to keep your cool, remain focused, and avoid breaking under the pressure. You have only one opportunity to make a good impression on your co-workers and supervisors. Don’t blow it by throwing professionalism out the window once you land a job.

As a new nurse, you are expected to ask questions. You must also be willing to accept advice – and even criticism – from your more experienced colleagues. Demonstrating flexibility, perseverance, and a willingness to learn while maintaining a positive attitude shows the world that you are a professional who has what it takes to be a successful nurse.

Keep in mind that a professional appearance is important, too. Familiarize yourself with the facility’s dress code, and dress accordingly. If you are still wearing the same scrubs that you have had since enrolling in nursing school, consider upgrading to stylish jogger scrub pants and attractive tops.

The Bottom Line

As a 2021 nursing school graduate, you have already faced numerous challenges that your predecessors likely never even imagined, let alone had to deal with as students. Pursuing your education amid a pandemic is no easy task and, if you made it through, you likely have some pretty impressive skills and experiences to share on your resume and in job interviews. Still, though, it is important to take additional steps to set yourself apart. Consider the suggestions listed above as you prepare to submit applications for your first nursing job, and you will be on your way to embarking on the career of your dreams.

Another great guest post from Adela Ellis. Thanks Adela!