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I have a 15-pound weight lifting restriction and can’t seem to find a job. Any suggestions?

Wednesday January 30, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have an associate degree in nursing. About four years ago I hurt my back and now have a 15-pound weight lifting restriction. I can’t seem to be able to get a job and am becoming desperate. Do you have any suggestions?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Desperate,

You don't mention what type of job you are looking for, but presumably you are not looking for inpatient care positions because that is out of the question for you for many reasons. If you are applying for a position that does not require direct patient care, then you don't even need to mention your lifting restriction since it is not an issue. Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces).

Since you are unemployed and presumably have been for several years, the first thing you want to do is find a volunteer position as a nurse while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to gain some recent experience to put on your resume and discuss on an interview. It also is a good way to hone old skills and learn new ones. It will help to build your confidence and expand your professional network, not to mention give structure to your days. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. I always say if you can't get in the front door try the back. Try your local public health department, a free clinic, a hospice and the American Red Cross.

Attend career fairs in your area. In addition to hospital positions (which are not what you should be looking for), there are often nontraditional employers exhibiting at these events, as well as agencies that place nurses in nontraditional roles. Agency work, even if it is only part-time or temporary, is a good way to make some income while seeking full-time regular employment. It also can help you try out a new specialty, gain some experience and get a foot in the door. It often leads to regular employment. Not all agencies do nontraditional placement, so you need to find the ones that do. See what's coming up in your area at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs/. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Career-fair).

You need to look in new directions for employment and need new skills and strategies to find those jobs. It would be ideal for you to attend my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar or use the home study version. Find out more at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars/ and CE.Nurse.com/Professional-Development. You'll also find The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses helpful (www.Nurse.com/CE/7250).

Transitioning back into the workforce, especially after an injury, is a process, so be patient. When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. Take the suggestions above, including those in the referenced articles and links, and move in a new direction.

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.