When Should New NP Grads Start a Job Search?

Now that the ThriveAP Career Advisor Program is up and running, I’ve had a lot of interaction with new nurse practitioner graduates looking for their first NP job. Many are ahead of the game, seeking assistance in finding employment nearly a year in advance of graduation. Others are taking pause, finding it difficult to muster the energy to find that first NP position or are awaiting licensure and certification paperwork before beginning their quest for work. Which of these approaches is best?

Ideally, nurse practitioner students need to start thinking about their NP job search at the time they begin their nurse practitioner program. “Begin with the end in mind”, my father-in-law always says. Ultimately, the goal of advancing your nursing education is to find a job, right? You must reorient yourself to this goal periodically throughout your education. Here’s how you should approach your quest for the right career and when.

One Year Before Graduation

Nurse practitioner students often ask me if future employers will look at their grades or glance at portfolios and other projects completed in the MSN classroom. The answer is “No”. Employers don’t care about the essays you’ve written or the presentations you’ve given. They care about one thing- hands on patient care experience. Your nurse practitioner program clinical hours are direct preparation for your future career. Make these the focus of your energy. Form quality professional relationships with your clinical preceptors so you have a reference to vouch for your abilities when it comes time to ramp up your job search. Having someone to speak to your clinical know-how is essential as a new grad. 

Three Months Before Graduation

The few months before completing your nurse practitioner program can be pretty hectic. Not only are you finishing up course requirements and clinical hours, this is when the job search process really heats up. First, pull together your resume (you can request a sample new grad resume by e-mailing careeradvisor@thriveap.com). Then, concentrate on studying for the nurse practitioner certification exam. You can’t get a job if you aren’t certified, right?

One Month Before Graduation

Get a preliminary idea of the nurse practitioner job market in your area or the area where you plan to practice a few weeks before graduation. Search job postings and even contact employers regarding postings of interest letting employers know your license is pending- you never know, they may hold the position for you. Reach out to local clinics or hospitals and give them a copy of your resume. Let them know your job timeline. Even if a position isn’t posted they may be aware of an upcoming need. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t gain a lot of traction. Many employers won’t hire, or even interview, nurse practitioners until they have an active license in hand.

You Made it! Post-Graduation

Congrats on graduating! Unfortunately, your work isn’t quite finished. Even though you’ve completed finals and turned in projects, you still must find the energy to look for that elusive first nurse practitioner job. And believe me, it takes a lot of energy. 

After you graduate, take the NP certification exam as soon as possible. This allows you to secure employment more quickly. While you are waiting to take your exam or for your official certification to process, start the application for your state nurse practitioner license. This way your licensing process will be underway before you pass the exam. Some states even allow you to submit this paperwork before you sit for the actual certification exam speeding up this process.

Continue your job search once you finally receive your license. Reach out to personal and professional connections, search job boards, and cold call local clinics to kickstart your job search. Or, you can outsource the job searching and reaching out to employers to a ThriveAP Career Advisor– we’re happy to take care of this for you!

New grads- how is your nurse practitioner job search going? Any advice for other job seekers?


Start your job search with the ThriveAP Career Advisor Program! Outsource the painstaking job search process to us, or simply lean on a Career Advisor for advice. Whatever your needs, we’re happy to help.


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