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I am an inexperienced nurse and haven’t worked for several years. What do you suggest I do to make myself more marketable?

Thursday January 31, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am an inexperienced nurse and haven’t worked in the nursing profession for several years. I have taken a nursing refresher course, but still can't find a job. What do you suggest I do to make myself more marketable?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Desperate,

The hospital job market for nurses in most parts of the country is very tight right now. So without very recent hospital experience, those jobs are not there. There are jobs for you in other areas since the entire job market for nurses is shifting. Even though you are not a new nurse, this article will provide helpful tips and strategies to move forward in your career, “New nurse, new job strategies” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Strategies).

Since you are unemployed, the first thing you want to do is find a volunteer position as a nurse while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to gain some recent experience to put on your resume and discuss during an interview. It also is a good way to hone old skills and learn new ones. It will help to build your confidence and expand your professional network, not to mention give structure to your days. Volunteering often leads to paid employment. I always say if you can't get in the front door, try the back. Try your local public health department, a free clinic, a hospice or the American Red Cross.

Attend career fairs in your area. In addition to hospitals, there are often nontraditional employers exhibiting at these events, as well as agencies that place nurses in nontraditional roles. Agency work, even if only part-time or temporary, is a good way to make some income while seeking full-time. regular employment. It can also help you try out a new specialty, gain some experience, and get a foot in the door. Plus, it also often leads to regular employment. But not all agencies do nontraditional placement, so you need to find the ones that do. See what's coming up in your area at
www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs/ and read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Career-fair).

You need to look in new directions for employment and you need new skills and strategies to find those jobs. It would be ideal for you to attend my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar or use the home study version. Find out more at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars/ and CE.Nurse.com/Professional-Development. You'll also find “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career” helpful (www.Nurse.com/CE/7250).

Transitioning back into the workforce is a process, so be patient. When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. Take the suggestions above, including those in the referenced articles and links, and move in a new direction.

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.