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I have a license with probation and can't seem to find anyone who will hire me. How can I overcome this?

Friday April 5, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I graduated from nursing school in 2011. It took more than a year before the board of nursing would allow me to take the NCLEX. This was because of a misdemeanor (Obstruction of Court Order) that I acquired before nursing school. I obtained my license with probation in August 2012. I've had six interviews, but it seems like no employer wants to hire a new grad with no experience and who’s on probation. How can I overcome this and get an employer to give me a chance?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Hopeless,

Your situation is challenging but not insurmountable. You should start by doing volunteer work as a nurse in a healthcare setting while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a good way to gain recent experience, make professional contacts, hone old skills, learn new ones and get your foot in the door. It often leads to paid employment. For volunteer opportunities, look into a free clinic, local public health department, hospice, blood bank and the American Red Cross. Be sure you have nursing liability insurance, even for volunteer work.

Networking is known to be the most effective way to find a job, especially when you have obstacles to overcome. You need to regularly attend nursing professional association meetings (as a guest if you aren't a member), career fairs, nursing seminars and conventions. You have to get yourself out there, be visible and expand your professional network. Have business cards made, buy or borrow a business suit and shake some hands.

Also, activate your personal network of friends, family, former classmates and instructors. Let them know what you're looking for and the obstacles you are facing. The power of networking is that people know people who know other people. Employers are more inclined to hire and take a chance on someone when they are referred or recommended by someone they know — someone who can vouch for the person’s character.

Consider consulting a career coach or counselor to help you with your self-marketing and interviewing skills. Often, when someone has something in their past that can be problematic, they don't present it in the right way or at the right time.

The job market for all nurses — especially new nurses even under the best circumstances — is very tight right now. You will have to broaden your job search to include any nursing position you can find to get started.

Here are two articles you may find helpful: “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies) and “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces).

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.