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I'm a new grad and have been doing everything to find a job for the past two months, with no success. Any advice?

Monday September 24, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am a new graduate nurse with an associate degree, and I am working on my bachelor’s. I have been looking for a job since I passed the NCLEX, which was a little more than two months ago. Two recruiters did call me, but their clients wanted experienced applicants. I have done pretty much everything — resumes, contacts and calls to recruiters to follow-up. I have no connections, so am relying on my efforts, with no success as yet. How long should I wait? Any advice?

Waiting for a job

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Waiting for a job,

It's great that you're back in school. There are additional things you can be doing, such as volunteering in a healthcare setting (as a nurse if possible), while you continue to look for paid employment. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and often leads to paid employment. Also, it's a good way to hone your nursing skills, build confidence and expand your professional network. It gives you recent experience to put on your resume. Look for a free clinic, hospice, NICU feeding program, American Red Cross chapter or your local public health department. Recruiters will want to know what you've been doing since graduation. Volunteering and furthering your education will speak well for you.

Read “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies). All nurses need to look in new directions for employment, as the job market shifts, and that need new skills to find those jobs. Are you active on LinkedIn and Twitter? There is a lot of professional networking, recruiting and job posting going on there in the healthcare and nursing communities.

You say you have no contacts. Everyone has contacts, unless they live alone on a desert island with no means of communication. The power of networking is people know people who know other people. So, you don't have to personally know someone working in a hospital or healthcare facility. You just have to talk to enough other people until you find someone who does. Friends, family, neighbors, former classmates and instructors, church members and your own primary care providers all are part of your network.

And speaking of connections, you should participate in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). There you'll find connections galore — recruiters, managers, staff nurses and administrators. Many associations have reduced dues for nurses in their first year in the profession. Attend meetings and join a committee. The more active you become, the more people will get to know you and you them. Everything happens through networking.

You don't want to wait much longer to be employed as a nurse. Consider other specialties and other work settings such as school nursing or home care (some have comprehensive mentorships and orientation for new nurses) and anything else that comes along. Once employed, you can continue to look for other nursing employment if what you initially find is not optimal.

I know you feel like you're doing everything you can, but these things will be even more effective than what you're already doing. Persistence and determination always will win out.

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.