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I have 12 years of experience, but have been unemployed for 15 months and having difficulty finding work. What do you suggest?

Wednesday August 29, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I’m an ADN with 12 years of varied nursing experience, but have been unemployed for 15 months. I’m enrolled in an online BSN program and seeking employment. I’m having difficulty landing a position. Is there something else I should be doing?

Having Difficulty

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Having Difficulty,

In case you aren't aware, the nursing job market is tight in many types of facilities in many parts of the country. Also, it is more competitive than ever, so it's great that you are pursuing your BSN. The job market for nurses is shifting also, meaning nurses need to look in new directions for employment and need new skills to find those jobs. Even though you're not a new nurse, you may find the information in this article helpful and enlightening — “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

Since you are unemployed, start volunteering (as a nurse if possible) in a healthcare setting. Volunteering is a great way to gain recent experience, expand your professional network and learn new skills. Also, it is a way to get your foot in the door. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. I always say that if you can't get in the front door, try the back. Look for volunteer opportunities in your local public health department, a free clinic, the American Red Cross, a blood or tissue banking service, the American Heart Association, a hospice or any other healthcare setting that interests you.

Since networking is well known to be a great way to find a job, you need to actively network, preferably in person. This includes attending nursing career fairs, seminars and conferences. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Careerfair). See what's coming up at www.Nurse.com/Events/.

Networking takes many forms, but it can involve attending local chapter meetings of nursing and healthcare professional associations — even as a guest. This could be a local chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) or any specialty association that interests you.

You'll find much more detailed information in “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses” (www.nurse.com/ce/7250), to help you land a job and build a successful career in these changing and challenging times. Also, you may find this article helpful: “Ten steps to a successful job search” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/TenSteps).

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. Use the suggestions above, as well as that in the referenced articles and books and breathe new life into your job search.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.