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Top Traits Employers Look for in Nursing Candidates

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As a nursing candidate, you already know that your potential employers are looking for a highly specialized set of clinical skills. Your education, experience and target positions may focus on pediatric cardiology, geriatrics, ICU care, orthopedic surgery, or any number of specific technical and clinical areas. But in addition to your ability to replace a tracheotomy tube, stabilize patients during surgery, help patients and families at the end of life, or provide emergency care, you’ll also need to demonstrate some non-specific traits and skill sets. These qualities are universally valued by employers, and they typically include the following.

Attention to detail.

Your ability to stay present and connect with individual patients in the moment will provide you with leverage on the job market. Keep your focus on the here and now—not just in the clinic, but also during your job interview. Don’t worry about the next task or the next obligation. Instead, give the current moment and the current conversation your full and undivided attention.


Nurses who demonstrate the flexibility to change their plans and expectations on the spur of the moment will always hold high value with administrators and healthcare managers. If you can change treatment plans, consider new options, evaluate new data, adjust your schedule, and even adjust your personal perspective as needed, you’ll always have a place in the healthcare industry.


Like doctors (and all healthcare providers), nurses who can address their clients with genuine kindness will thrive in any workplace. Overcoming compassion fatigue and seeing each client, coworker, manager, and team member as an individual will support success in this field.


Time management and strong decision making skills will serve you well during your job search if you can find a way to demonstrate these qualities to potential employers. Use examples drawn from your past to showcase these traits.


No responsible employer will expect you to bounce back immediately after a difficult day or the loss of a client. But almost all employers will expect you to bounce back after a minor mistake. Learn as much as you can from the events that don’t play out according to your plans and expectations, and be ready to articulate these lessons and explain how your setbacks have made you stronger.

Communication skill.

Successful nurses know how to shift easily from team roles to leadership roles and back again. They know how to explain complex information in simple terms, and they know how to read their audience to make sure their words are being understood. They can give orders and also take them, and they can keep both spoken and written messages brief, clear and relevant. Make sure your highlight this skill set to your employers.

For more on how to make a strong impression during your nursing job search, reach out to the job search experts at CSS.

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