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I'm a recent grad who is having trouble finding a position that doesn't require at least one year of experience. Any suggestions?

Tuesday October 16, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am a recent graduate with an RN associate’s degree. I passed my NCLEX boards and have applied for positions in every hospital within 35 miles of my home. The responses I receive state at least one year of experience is required. I have not worked for 15 years and have never worked in healthcare, other than my clinical experience. I am high-energy, motivated and have very adept people skills. I have waited a long time to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse and now that I have made it through the schooling, I am eager to get started. Is there is anything you can suggest to help me get my foot in the door?

Recent RN Graduate

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Recent RN Graduate,

This is a common experience for new nurses, so don't take it personally. When a hospital says you need "at least one year experience" what they mean is that they are not hiring new nurses. The hospital job market is very tight right now. This is partly because care is shifting out of the hospital into the home, community health centers, alternative inpatient settings (rehab, sub-acute, long-term care, etc.) and various ambulatory care settings. Read the article “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

As the article suggests, you should start volunteering in a healthcare setting now while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a good way to get your foot in the door somewhere, helps to gain relevant experience to put on your resume and discuss on an interview and will expand your professional network. Plus, volunteering often leads to paid employment — consider a blood bank, free clinic, hospice or the American Red Cross.

It is imperative that you join and attend local chapter meetings of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). As a new nurse, it is vital that you immerse yourself in the nursing community for many reasons, not the least of which is to build your professional network, stay current with information and trends and find mentors and role models. Networking is well known to be a very effective way to find a job, especially when you have challenges to overcome.

Nurses today — both novice and experienced — need to look in new directions for employment and need new skills to find those jobs. Your career may not start out how and where you envisioned, but keep in mind there are many ways and places to make a difference. Persistence and determination will always 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.