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My position was not held after I took a leave of absence. Now no one will hire me. What should I do?

Thursday March 14, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have been an RN for 28 years but have not worked for two years. My position was not held when I had to take an extended leave of absence to recover. During my recovery, I had my resume done professionally. I have had some interviews, but no one wants to hire me, which I do not understand. I did not lose all my experience and intelligence. I am looking into a graduate degree in healthcare informatics. What advice can you give me?

Post Recovery

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Post Recovery,

When you say recovery, I don't know if you mean from substance abuse or from some other type of illness. The only reason it matters is in case you are specific when describing why you have been out of the workforce during an interview or if your references might allude to the same.

I don't know what type of positions you are applying for, but I will tell you that many, if not most, hospitals in the U.S. are hiring only nurses with very recent hospital experience. This is because there is an oversupply of nurses who want to work in hospitals right now. Many hospitals also are downsizing — care is shifting out of the hospital into alternative settings, the home and the community — and converting inpatient space into primary care and outpatient services.

I encourage you to look into opportunities beyond the hospital bedside. Because you are unemployed and have been out of the workforce for a while, you should start volunteering, ideally as a nurse, in a healthcare setting while you look for paid employment. Consider your local public health department, a free clinic, hospice, the American Red Cross or a blood bank. Volunteering is a great way to gain recent experience for your resume, hone old skills, learn new ones and expand your professional network. It's also a good way to get your foot in the door; volunteering often leads to paid employment.

Networking is known to be a very effective way to find a job, even when you have obstacles to overcome. You should be attending career fairs, nursing association meetings and related conferences, seminars, and conventions. See what's coming up in your area at www.Nurse.com/Events/. Hover your mouse over the Events menu tab to see more options. Consider attending local meetings of the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org) or other specialty associations, as a guest if you are not a member.

Regarding your education, getting a master's degree is a very smart thing to do. If you have an interest in healthcare informatics, I say go for it. Informatics is a hot place to be these days. That degree will serve you well, no matter what you do in healthcare going forward.

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.