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I have 30 years of experience and cannot find a job. What am I supposed to do?

Thursday February 14, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I have more than 30 years of hospital experience, primarily in oncology. I relocated to Georgia and founded a community outreach program. I educated the public and newly diagnosed patients on any type of illness or disease. I did health screenings, monitoring and physicals — all while dealing with some health issues of my own. Now I am healthy, have excellent references and a very strong clinical background. I have taken a refresher course and was a volunteer community health nurse for seven years. My background includes home health, corrections, school nursing and almost every acute clinical care area. However, I have not been able to get an interview. I am far too young to retire and feel that I have paid my dues, as far as volunteer work. I would consider volunteering on a limited basis, but I need a job with a paycheck. What am I supposed to do?

Needs a Job

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs a Job,

You don't mention what type of positions, facilities or employers you are looking for. The hospital job market is very tight for nurses, and without very current hospital experience, most facilities won't even interview candidates. It's a matter of supply and demand. That will likely change in the next several years — the hospital job market has always been cyclical — but of course that doesn't help you right now.

You have a great background, and I am confident you can find something suitable in another area. I suspect you are simply looking in the wrong places for employment or going about it the wrong way.

Self-marketing and job-finding skills, including resume writing, networking, use of social media and interview techniques have changed over the years. Be sure you are current with trends by reading “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical advice for thriving at every stage of your Career” (www.Nurse.com/CE/7250) or coming to a “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminar. Find out more at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars/.

It sounds like the community health/ambulatory care arena is a good place for you. I would suggest that you attend local chapter meetings of associations such as the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (www.aaacn.org), the National Association of School Nurses (www.nasn.org), and the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). You can attend as a guest, if you are not yet a member. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. Networking is known to be a very effective way to find a job.

Volunteering might be an ideal setting for you, because it is a great way to get a foot in the door when you can't do so through traditional channels. I always say that when you can't get in the front door, try the back. This also is a way to further expand your professional network.

Also attend area career fairs. This is a great place to make contact with many different types of employers and a good way to hone your self-marketing and networking skills. Often there are agencies there that place nurses in part-time and temporary nonhospital positions. Agency work can be a good way to get started until you land regular employment. See what's coming up at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs/

Although you are not a new nurse, this article has many additional tips and advice for finding work in a shifting job market: “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. Use the advice and resources mentioned, including that in the referenced article, and move toward your goal.

Best wishes,
Donna


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.