How to Get Your First CNA Job

I completed my CNA training at Ohio in 2008. At that time, the certified nursing assistant profession was just catching up in the job market.

Many educational centers were flourishing up throughout the state. Each of them promised a guaranteed job with a certification. Unlike now, finding healthcare facilities that offer job training as well as employment was a bit difficult. Maybe, the surge in population has created a difference in recent times. Anyway, I had to struggle a bit in getting employment. Though the scenario of CNA job opening has changed now, you must still find ways to excel in your CNA job hunting.

If you are not lucky to find an organization that will look after your training expenses and offers a job, then you are all alone on the way to the job market. Don’t worry, I am here to help you on your journey.

Prepare a Resume

The first thing you have to do as soon as you achieve the CNA certification is to prepare a resume that could convey your abilities to the would-be employers. If this is your first job, you obviously will find it resume building difficult. I am confident in stating this statement out of my experience. Therefore, I decided to take help from resume writers and people I knew.

As a fresher, you too must opt for a resume writing service. Never mind if you have to bear the expenses. Paying them once or twice is enough to understand the components of a resume.

The resume for the CNA job has to be written well enough to make the employer want to give at least the call for an interview with the concerned candidate, irrespective of whether s/he gets selected in the process of interview.

A few basic things to adhere to while framing a CNA resume are as follows-

Contact Details

The first thing to be kept in mind while preparing a CNA resume or any resume for that matter is to mention the complete name of the nursing assistant, with the surname, all correctly spelled.

Also, this part must contain the contact details of the nursing assistant, that is, the mobile number/s as well as the landline numbers, if any, in case the employer has decided to call him or her for an interview for the particular position.

The best part is to keep the contact section as simple as possible, making it not very troublesome for the employer to find through the numbers were to give a call to the nursing assistant, In case s/he is selected for the process of interview.

The email address is another important feature which has to be put in, in this section, so that in cases where they call for the process of the interview might be missed, at least the candidate has the chance to get to know about it while going through his/her mails. The residential address also should be put in this part, because at times, some employers directly send letters for the interview call at the mentioned address.

Clear Objective

The next part, that is, the portion wherein the objective or the future goals of the nursing assistant has to be mentioned should not give a vague impression to the employer as if the nursing assistant has accidentally got into the profession, and lacks a clear purpose regarding the job s/he wants to get into.

At the same time, this is also an essential section for the reason that it is here where the nursing assistant can mention and draw a link on how his/her future objectives are related to the benefit of the organization.

This would enable the employer in question to see clearly how beneficial the particular nursing assistant can be to the organization. If found helpful, the candidate would get the much-desired interview call for the process of interview, and perhaps also get selected.

Relevant Experience

The next important part in a resume for the post of a CNA is to list out the related experience in the field of nursing, highlighting the role and responsibilities, and the major kind of work that the candidate has been into, in the tenure of his/her work there.

Of course, enough care has to be taken to make sure that the candidate does not put in too many unnecessary details in this section, with enough details of only the major kind of work. One also has to mention the place where the certificate, as well as the training, has been derived from. At times, the nursing assistant can also mention a few other details, such as having worked in a few non – profit organizations as volunteers.

Grammar Check

After a proper mention of all the necessary details, the last step that has to be taken is to go through the whole resume for CNA post, just to make sure that the grammar, as well as the spellings in the resume, is in the correct order, in order not to make a wrong impression on the potential employer.

Pro Tips: Before writing it, I download a standard resume format from the internet and fill in information relevant to the job. You too must do the same, and alter it each time you are applying for a job. That way, it will be job-specific and employers would love to read it. Remember, employers just want to know you, your qualification, experience and personal details such as hobbies, social security number, hobbies, etc.

Having done all this would ensure that half of the work has already been done, and the nursing assistant is perhaps only just a few steps behind to getting his or her much-desired dream job of serving as a certified nursing assistant in the organization of choice.

Search for the Job

When I was searching for a job, I even visited many healthcare settings in the area I live in. I did not bother whether they have advertised or not. I used to take chances by enquiring at the reception or requesting a meeting with the HR personnel.

My aim was to let them know that I have a certification and am ready for employment, in case there is any vacancy. So, step out and visit your neighboring healthcare settings. Even if there is no job opening, at least they will have your profile for future contact. All you might have to do is look for it in the right place. Try looking at the various ways to look for a CNA job.

Below some tips that will help you to find a suitable job.

Contact your Local Schools

Before taking up the course, find out if your vocational school will help you in your job search. Find out if they also have any programs that have a separate department or individual who can inform the students about the various vacancies available.

If your school is a well established one, then it will have an excellent resource for helping you in your job search. They are likely to have a list of the local employers where you are likely to find a job.

Ask your Instructor

While doing the course, make sure that you have complete terms with your instructors and the nurses in the school. They might know a great deal about finding a CNA job. They might know other colleagues employed at other hospitals or clinics where they would hire people like you.

The best thing about having good terms with them is that they can give their references, which will help you in establishing your credentials. They might also guide you as to what places you should apply and what organizations you should avoid.

Use the Internet

Apart from searching the internet, make sure that you do not miss out on scanning the various nursing websites and publications. These have advertisements of the local clinics and hospitals that are looking for CNAs.

  • Register with a popular job search website where potential employers are likely to find you.
  • Modify your search by changing words a little and see what websites are shown by the search engine.
  • Ask your peers and other professionals about the websites which are very popular with the employers.
  • You can check the websites of individual hospitals or clinics. Click on their career section and submit your resume there.
  • You should also try doing cold calling to find a job.
  • Make several copies of your resume and visit the various hospitals in your town or city. Check with their human resource department if they have any vacancies for a certified nursing assistant.
  • Upload your resume on job portals. Many online job sites can find a job for you. They might charge a nominal fee for registration, but it will allow employers to go through it. If it attracts any employer, you will get an interview notice through email.

You should try cold calling because some employers might not have kept their websites updated, or might be thinking of listing the vacancy. If they have your resume before that, they might consider calling you for an interview before anyone else does.

Some hospitals do not list their vacancy at all; they just call candidates through references. If you visit these hospitals, you may be able to get a job.

Read Newspaper

Go through the daily newspaper. There are many jobs in the classified column. Call each of them as you come across each of them. If possible, make an appointment talking in a professional manner. You may get a positive response for your call, or they will suggest you mail a copy so that they can go through it and get back to you.

Ask your Friends & Family

Take the help of your family or friends to inform you about an acquaintance who might need your service at their residence. They in turn, might let others know about your qualification and help you get a job. This is an excellent way of getting a job because if you have less experience, you can offer personalized services to individuals at slightly lower rates than someone who is experienced.

Make a social network and let people know about your qualification through mouth publicity. Contact any known person who is serving in the medical industry. Try to receive references from them.

Get a Volunteer Job

If the above methods do not help you find a job, then you can always offer part-time volunteer services at a community center or hospital. You can take up some other part-time job simultaneously. Even if they do not pay you well, it might help you in having some experience. You will be able to sharpen your skills and face interview more confidently.

Although finding a certified nursing assistant job is not an easy task, it is nevertheless an impossible thing to do. You need to put in some efforts in your job search, just the way you did for completing the course.

When you appear for interviews, make sure that you are aware of the salary that you are supposed to get and the challenges you will face. If you are willing to relocate to other cities, choose cities where there is a higher employment rate for CNAs. This will also increase your chances of getting a job.

Excel your Interview

Going through lots of interviews, I came to know that personal achievements do play an important role in nailing the job.

I take care to include accomplishments in the resume. Do not worry if there is nothing for you to add in this category. Employers understand that this is your first job, and you need a chance to perform. If you volunteer your services for a good cause during your academic year, it will impress the employers. If nothing sort of that happened, you can as well attach a letter of recommendation from your teacher, instructor and any influential person with your resume.

After that, give your attention to drafting a cover letter. Take care not to repeat what you have already included in the resume. Instead, focus on something special about you. It may be your ability to empathize with others, or passion for the profession. Read different types of cover letters on the internet to get a feel of it.

Apart from drafting your cover letter, you need proper planning and preparations for the same prior to you actually sit before the interview panel.

Below are the CNA jobs interview tips that you can follow to make a good start at job hunting:

  • The person going to attend the interview should be ready with the information such as day, time and venue of the interview
  • A copy of the resume and current state nursing assistant certification
  • Name and designation of the person going to conduct the interview
  • Any reference or recommendations from previous employers, patients or their families

The person going to attend the interview should remember that the first impression means a lot.

Hence, groom yourself and check the following before you set out to attend one:

  • The candidate should be properly dressed and clean-shaven
  • He should wear neat, clean and ironed clothes
  • Men should be in formal wear like trousers and collared shirt and leather shoes
  • Women can go for formal trousers or skirt and team it up with an appropriate business shirt and formal shoes
  • Do up your hair neatly as you would while on the job, this will create a positive impression
  • If you have tattoos or body piercing done, try and cover it to the maximum. Women shouldn’t wear too much makeup or jewelry which may be distracting for the one conducting the interview

You should do your homework properly; do some prior research on the type of questions that are usually asked.

Be prepared with answers for questions that might be as given below:

  • What is the reason behind leaving your last job?
  • Do you know to take vital signs?
  • What is it that you enjoy most about being a CNA?
  • What do you enjoy the least about being a CNA?
  • Have you ever been disciplined or fired from the job?
  • Where do you see yourself five years down the line from now?
  • Is it ok if we contact the reference that you have mentioned or your past employee?
  • Sometimes, even you are allowed to ask some questions. You may ask for the following information:
  • How many facilities you would be required to work?
  • What is the training or probation period?
  • How many patients you are required to attend to in a shift?
  • What are the benefits of career advancement opportunities one can expect?
  • How many other staff members would be working with you?

Most of the time your interview will be conducted by the Human Resource Manager or the Director of Nurses. You are also likely to be given a tour of the workplace you are likely to join. You may take this opportunity to explore the place and see if the staff seems friendly if the workplace is clean and well organized and most importantly if you feel you can fit into the whole system and deliver the best efforts.

In case it’s a private duty CNA job that you are applying for, you are likely to meet the patient you would be taking care of. Take this as your chance to see if there could be a good patient/caregiver relationship which is essential. A Certified Nurse Aide is most likely to be quizzed on whether you can provide all basic medical care to the patient.

Besides, the interviewer would like to see the passion, compassion, and professionalism that you carry with you and which forms an essential part of the CNA job. If you have taken care of everything you are most likely to have a good interview and your chances of getting the job to appear.

Job-hunting for any profession is a frustrating and tiring activity. Apply all the resources at your end in finding the job. Make use of reference, mouth publicity, media, etc. to get employers’ attention towards your profile. Do not lose your heart even you have to wait for a long. I hope, this excerpt would help you to excel in your first CNA job hunting.


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