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Everywhere I apply, I’m told the problem is that I have not worked in the past two years. What is my next step?

Thursday November 29, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am an RN with a BS degree and my specialty has been in the OR. Twelve years ago, I left the OR to start my own business. I kept my credentials current and did some private-duty nursing. I completed an RN refresher course. Everywhere I apply, I’m told the problem is that I have not worked in the past two years. Unless someone hires me, I never will be able to get into the travel-nursing field. What is my next step?

CNOR Looking for Next Steps

Dear Donna replies:

Dear CNOR Looking for Next Steps,

Because of an abundance of nurses with current experience, hospitals can afford to be choosy. Many have adopted that same policy. The job market for nurses is cyclical and it will change somewhat within the next few years.

There is more than one way to get a foot in the door. You should focus much of your job finding efforts on networking, since that is well known to be a very effective way to find a job under any circumstances. That includes having personal business cards made and attending local chapter meetings of the Association of periOperative RNs (www.aorn.org) and the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org), whether or not you are a member of either.

Call everyone you know, both in and out of healthcare, to let them know what you're looking for. Ask for their help by way of leads, introductions and referrals. Focus on your former coworkers (including physicians) and supervisors, regardless of where they are now. They don't even have to be in the same state. Use Facebook and LinkedIn to find them, if necessary. The power of networking is that people know people who know other people — all over the country.

Speaking of networking, social media is becoming a powerful and effective way to make professional connections and support your job search process. Be sure to set up a LinkedIn account. Twitter and Facebook (used for professional purposes) also are powerful tools.

Since your BS is not in nursing, you should look into getting that additional degree or getting into an MSN program. The nursing job market has gotten much more competitive (even with current experience) and will stay this way. Degrees in nursing are becoming a prerequisite for hire in many places.

In the interim, consider looking for work in an outpatient surgicenter to gain some recent direct care experience. Your chances of getting hired there may be better, especially because you are a certified OR nurse. That may not be what you are ideally looking for, but it is a step in the right direction and is better than unemployment.

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.