If you’re graduating this semester, you’re probably already looking for a job. I’ll bet you’re wondering what employers are looking for when it comes to nurses—besides a year of experience—and whether you can get a job as a new nurse, fresh out of school.

What bosses look for varies from place to place, but here’s what we DON’T want to see:

  1. No divas need apply. Most times, new nurses will be put on the quietest shifts with a preceptor, which might mean working weird hours or working nights at first. Yeah, that sucks, but it’s really a good idea. It gives you a chance, as a newbie, to get the flow of the unit and your time management under control without too much pressure. It also gives you the opportunity to manage crises with fewer resources, so that you’re more confident in your abilities. Not being willing to work nights, weekends or off-shifts will decrease your chances of getting a job and learning new skills.
  2. Bosses don’t want people without outside interests. It’s normal for nursing to eat up your life when you’re new, but that state of affairs shouldn’t continue for too long. Nurses who can’t get away from nursing are the ones who burn out first. If an interviewer asks you about your hobbies, make sure you can name at least one, even if you have to make it up. Just don’t mention your chemistry set at home or your fascination with small rodents.
  3. Human resources tends to look askance at cockiness. Confidence is good, yes, but be sure you’re not giving off the vibe that you have nothing to learn. We all have something to learn, every dadratted day. Be humble, or at least humble-ish. Don’t get defensive when somebody points out a mistake—you’ll get worn out in no time and won’t make any friends. Get used to the idea that not a day will go by when you don’t have at least one howling screw-up to answer for, and you’ll be that much more relaxed.
  4. Having bad personal hygiene spells trouble. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but for heaven’s sake, be clean. Personal hygiene tends to slide during the last few weeks of school, but slap up before an interview and for your job. Smell clean without being perfumey, don’t put today’s makeup on over last night’s, trim your facial hair if you have any and for Frog’s sake be sure your nails are clean. While you’re at it, make sure your scrubs fit: VPLs on either sex, or shirts that strain to contain your chest, are distracting at best and at risk for tearing at worst.

Get out there. Be cheerful, kind and intelligent. Ace those interviews, get yourself a job and may you have many mostly happy years ahead of you!