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I'm having difficulty finding a job and I think it is because of my lack of experience. What can I do?

Wednesday June 5, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I graduated in May 2012, but did not pass the boards until March 2013. I'm having difficulty finding a job and I think it is because of my lack of experience. I was not able to get a patient care technician position while I was waiting to pass my test. I am feeling very discouraged and I am not sure what to do. Am I not being called back because of my lack of experience? If so, what can I do to gain the experience needed to find a job?

Delayed Start

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Delayed Start,

Your experience is common for a new nurse. The job market for all nurses, but especially new nurses, is very tight. For advice, please read the article “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

Right now you need to seek a volunteer position, as a nurse if possible. For these opportunities, contact your local public health department, a free clinic, hospice, or senior citizen health center. Volunteering is a great way to gain recent experience, hone old skills, learn new ones and expand your professional network. It also is a way to get your foot in the door and volunteering often leads to paid employment.

It is imperative that you join and participate in either your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (you also can join only the national association in some states) and/or a specialty association that interests you, such as the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (www.hpna.org). You can attend meetings of either now as a guest. Everything happens through networking and this is a very effective way to find a job.

You don't mention what type of degree you have, but if you don't have a BSN, take steps to go back to school. That is becoming a standard for employment. There is plenty of scholarship money available.

Keep your CPR certification up-to-date and consider pursuing your Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification. Take an infusion therapy course if you can. Stay actively engaged in furthering your formal and skills-based education, while you seek paid employment. Recruiters will want to know what you have been doing during this time.

If you take all these suggestions, including those in the referenced article, you will soon find what you are looking for. You have to be very proactive. Sending out resumes simply is not enough to make things happen.

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.