When to Start your NP Job Search: 5 Timeline Tips to Consider
A very common question asked by nurse practitioner students—When should I start applying for jobs?— is one that requires more than a cut and dry answer.
In short though, you should start early. I’ve heard answers from 3 months to 18 months. Keep reading, you’ll find out why the range is so wide. Each nurse practitioner’s situation is highly individualized and different factors affect the timeline.
Factor #1: Longer onboarding time
For starters, let’s acknowledge that the hiring process is vastly different from being hired as an RN. As a nurse you may be starting your new job within two weeks of accepting an offer. As a nurse practitioner, you have several additional steps that involve both the state board of nursing and credentialing.
The time from accepted offer to onboarding can take months.
Each state operates differently. If you are in a state that requires a collaborative physician, establishing and processing an agreement takes time. Similarly, if you need prescriptive authority and will be writing prescriptions in your role, factor time for this as well. You may also be required to have a DEA license for controlled substances, which—you guessed it—takes more time. Another required element, which is fairly easy to obtain online is your NPI, or national provider identifier, a unique ID necessary for effective billing and claims processing. It is not at all uncommon for all this to take three months or longer! So, go into the job hunt well informed and get well acquainted with the processes of your state board of nursing.
Factor #2: A competitive job market
Healthcare is a business and you're a healthcare provider which makes you a critical part of the healthcare industry. So you have to start thinking with a business mindset. Get a good handle on what the job market is like in your area and how you plan to market yourself. Ask yourself:
Do you plan to stay in your current geographic location or move? In each case, start researching early on what the job climate is like in the area by engaging with other NPs.
Are you planning to start in a specialty? If so, what skills will be required? Can you learn or plan to learn these skills in your clinical rotations?
Factor #3: More than just submitting your resume
You may start your active job search three months from when you hope to be hired, but the prep work starts long before the three-month mark. If you’re completing your program on a part time basis and your clinical rotations span over 12 months, consider your rotations to be part of your networking for your job search. So for 12-18 months, you’re in the preliminary stage of job searching. You’re planting the seed and cultivating relationships with preceptors that can lead to possible employment upon completing your NP program.
Clinical sites are the best place to start job search.
Even if you know that you don’t want to start at your clinical rotation site, building those connections are an important part of your job search should you need a reference or someone to vouch for you.
Factor #4: Job board alternatives.
Applying to online job postings is a great way to get hired. However, employers or recruiters posting these positions are usually looking to fill an immediate need. When you’re searching for your dream job early on, an impressive scroll stopping resume is essential. So while you may not be hired for this role, you can stay top of mind for upcoming roles. A prudent talent team saves information of qualified candidates.
Another way to look for jobs is to contact your potential employers directly. Reach out on Linked In, send an email or do it old school—call facilities giving them your information and sharing your interest about working for their organization. Doing this shows initiative and can give you the inside scoop to a job opening before it is officially posted. More than 75% of jobs are filled through some form of networking.
Factor #5: Realistic time frame.
Given all the ins and outs that goes into looking for that ideal job, don’t neglect time. Oftentimes, I see nurse practitioners panic that they don’t have a job lined up right after graduating. So they apply for every single job and settle for the first job offer they get because they need a job. And I get it, we all have bills and we have to live. But knowing the above information ahead of time will help you understand the prep work it takes to land a good job and hopefully plan accordingly.
If you could benefit from additional tips to help you along your NP career, I invite you to join my weekly email list.