How to Find Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nurses

A Guide to Help you Hire Top Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nurses

How To Find A NICU Nurse

October 22nd, 2020

Finding Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses is becoming more difficult, since the demand for NICU nurses will continue to increase, with the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that employment of registered nurses, which includes NICU nurses, will grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028.

NICUs are expected to expand with improving technology, making it possible to save the lives of more infants and requiring more NICU nurses.

In addition, the CDC estimates that the preterm birth rate rose for the fourth year in a row in 2018, and 1 in 10 babies was born too early in the United States. If this trend in the increased incidence of prematurity continues, there will be an even higher demand for NICU and neonatal nurses.

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How to Find a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Nurse:

1. Create a competitive NICU nurse job post.

Most employers post a general NICU nurse job description to job sites and add a few standard benefits. This approach won't work for an environment where employers face strong competition in sourcing NICU nurses. Your recruitment strategy should be to sell the job to neonatal intensive care unit nurses.

Find out what would neonatal intensive care unit nurses in your area would like to see in a NICU nurse job posting and reflect that in yours. Can you, for example, offer a pleasant and supportive work environment? A multilevel care NICU with training and career advancement opportunities? State of the art equipment that prevents alarm fatigue? Rotational weekends, nights, and public holidays off? Shifts alternating between 8 and 12 hours, with no shifts exceeding 12 hours? A competitive benefits package?

Make sure that you highlight the advantages you offer NICU nurses who work for you.

2. Post your job to multiple sites.

Posting your NICU nurse job to general sites is a good place to start. Indeed is a great first step, because it attracts large amounts of general traffic and it is free.

Make sure your job posting is visible to those NICU nurses who use Google to search for general NICU nurse jobs. Google for Jobs allows your job to be seen in search results and greatly increases your job posting's reach. You can get it to appear in Google's search results by using a service that creates automated and properly formatted job pages, or having someone integrate your job posting into your website in a way that allows it to be featured by Google Jobs.

If you've tried these and still aren't having any luck with sourcing NICU nurses, you'll want to consider posting to job sites that specialize in nursing jobs. Some of these sites would allow you to post your NICU nurse job listing for free, while others require payment. Have a look at where to post nursing jobs for ideas. Should you want to recruit NICU nurses with advanced qualifications or areas of specialty, sites dedicated to hiring nurses would be a great option to consider.

3. Screen your Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse applicants.

Some applicants overlook the requirements for a job. Even if you bold those in your NICU nurse job posting, they'll apply anyway. Find those who qualify by asking a few basic screening questions in a short email, such as:

  • How long have you worked as a NICU nurse?
  • Have you worked in a Level III NICU?
  • Are you available to work shifts alternating between days, nights, weekends, and public holidays?
  • Were any disciplinary actions ever taken against your license?

If you're concerned that you might not reach your NICU nurse applicants via a screening email, consider assigning someone to make short phone calls to ask your questions.

4. Verify NICU nurse registration and licensing details.

You don't want to go through the whole recruitment process only to find out the nurse is in fact not a registered nurse (RN) with a valid license, which would disqualify them from any NICU nurse job.

You'll also want to find out whether any action was ever taken against a neonatal intensive care unit nurse's license. Details about registration and license status, as well as actions taken against licenses, are publicly available on and the state database for nurse licensure.

Check these now, even if the candidate claims licensing compliance and no disciplinary actions lodged against them. You can request that NICU nurses provide formal evidence, but you may risk them losing interest by asking them to spend the time and money getting it. It is advisable to find that out yourself.

5. Conduct a phone interview.

In-person interviews at this stage of the recruitment process are time-consuming. Instead, you can quickly learn which neonatal intensive care unit nurse candidates are the best to continue learning about by scheduling short phone interviews.

During these short phone interviews, start by reviewing the screening questions to see if their answers still remain the same. Also, find out why they left their previous NICU nurse job, and check that their salary and benefit expectations align with what you are offering.

Example questions:

  • What are your reasons for leaving your last NICU nurse job?
  • What are your salary and benefits expectations?
  • When does your nursing license expire?
  • When are you available to work shifts?
  • What made you consider this particular job?
  • When would you be able to start?

If they left their previous NICU nurse job because of issues that you know will form part of the job you're offering, for example, having to work rotational shifts, it disqualifies the applicant from your recruitment process. The same applies if they want a salary that you cannot offer, or if they seem disinterested and fail to properly explain why they consider your job environment a good fit for them.

Be sure to highlight the advantages of your NICU nurse job to candidates who meet your standards at this point. Also, offer to answer any questions they might have. Remember to keep selling them your job, because they may be considering other options in this highly competitive market.

Pay close attention to what attracts them to your NICU nurse job, and reiterate job details they've reacted to in a positive way.

6. Conduct an in-person interview.

At this point, you're nearly ready to decide if you are going to make your top NICU nurse candidate an offer. An in-person interview will give you more certainty as to whether your candidate of choice continues to make a professional impression, for example, if they demonstrate sufficient experience with sophisticated NICU technology, their ability to work with distressed NICU-patients' parents, and whether they are punctual.

Example questions:

  • Can you describe which advanced NICU equipment you are familiar with?
  • What advice would you give trainee nurses who arrive at the NICU for their first day of work?
  • How would you respond to parents who demand your attention while you are on your way to deal with an emergency?
  • What challenged you the most when you started as a NICU nurse and how did you overcome that challenge?

Take a look at our NICU nurse interview questions for more ideas. Also, don't forget that an in-person interview is another chance to continue promoting your NICU nurse job. Arrange a guided tour of your NICU facility and other amenities of interest, introduce them to colleagues, and reiterate the exclusive advantages you offer NICU nurses who work for you.

7. Make an offer.

Once you've found a NICU nurse who meets your requirements, you'll want to make sure they don't commit to other options, so offer them the job without delay. This is often best done in an informal phone call, followed by a job offer letter that formally reflects your NICU nurse job description, salary, and benefits.


What are the best sites to post jobs for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses?

Find ideas on where to post nursing jobs.

How can I recruit a good NICU nurse?

  1. Post your NICU nurse job where it will attract the most attention.
  2. Prepare screening questions to ask NICU nurse candidates.
  3. Verify their license status.
  4. Check if actions were taken against their licenses.
  5. Get to know your top candidate better with an in-person interview.
  6. Perform research to make a competitive offer.

Is it difficult to find Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses?

The demand for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses is increasing and will continue to do so. The U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of registered nurses, which includes NICU nurses, is projected to grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028.

A significant driving factor is that the CDC indicates that the preterm birth rate in the U.S. is rising and if this trend continues, the demand for NICU nurses will increase accordingly.

How do you successfully source a NICU nurse?

  • Get your job posting out there via nursing job posting sites, professional nursing networks, your facility's website, and don't underestimate word of mouth.
  • Provide clear details of the benefits you offer.
  • Highlight advantages that competitors can't or won't offer NICU nurses.
  • Have an effective hiring process in place.
  • Get to know your shortlisted candidates via a phone interview.
  • Learn what your top candidates are looking for, and make them an attractive job offer.