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After four interviews where I felt very confident, I still can't find employment. Should I hire an attorney to look into why I'm not getting hired?

Friday May 18, 2012
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Dear Nancy,

I am an RN with 28 yearsí experience in ED and critical care. I have been trying to find full-time employment for more than a year. I am well-known in the medical field and have an excellent reputation for patient care. I am friendly, attractive and positive. I am working PRN for a small home-health company. I have had four great interviews in the past year. I recently applied for a position I really wanted, PRN but with an opportunity to go full time within four months. I just received another letter stating they were impressed with my qualifications, but chose another candidate. I felt confident in all four interviews that I would get the position. Iíve never been unable to get a job I applied for. I have children in college and need to work. Iím beginning to wonder if something is happening at the last minute that influences their decision to hire me, possibly a bad reference. Is there a way to find out if this is the case? Should I hire an attorney to look into this? I donít know what HR does to check out an applicant before an offer is made.


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Zoey,

It is unclear why you are unable to land a job, especially with your experience and good reputation in the medical community. It may be that the job market is tight in your area, or that something else is going on.

If your state allows an employee or former employee to obtain a copy of his or her personnel records, this would be one way you could evaluate what is in your file and whether there is something that is turning off future employers. You can determine if one of these laws exist in your state by going to your state legislative home page and searching "Review of Personnel Records Act" or something similar, to see if such a law even exists.

Also, you can consult with a nurse attorney or attorney who works with employees to determine if such a statute exists or if there is a case decision or pattern of practice that allows employees to review their personnel file. There may be a time limit in which you can do so, therefore contacting an attorney as soon as possible is important. You can find a nurse attorney in your state by going to The American Association of Nurse Attorneys at www.taana.org and follow the instructions for obtaining nurse attorney members in your state.

It may be that, for some reason, future employees are making a decision not to hire you based on some protected class. Are you, perhaps, a member of a minority, or do you practice a religion protected under Title VII? Do you have a disability that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and its recent amendments? Is your age an issue? The attorney with whom you consult can help you sort this out.

It might help to take an interviewing workshop and consult with a career coach. Although you have practiced and are experienced, the competition for nursing jobs is stiff. It is quite possible that you just need to update your resume, take a new approach in the interview itself, and try and reinvent the old you into a new you.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.