Monday, July 11, 2011

The Search

When I first told people I was making this career change, I got lots of different reactions. One remark almost everyone made is that, in nursing, at least I would always be easy to find a job. I thought the same thing. As it turns out, when you're a new grad here in Large Midwestern City, it's a lot harder than you think.

The problem isn't that there are no jobs. It's just that the market is flooded with new graduates. At my university alone there were near 100 of us in the ABSN program, and about the same number again in the traditional 4-year program. Extrapolate that out for all the other nursing schools in the area, and the number you wind up with is a job applicant's nightmare.

There are quite a few hospitals in town, but each one can only take on so many new grads at a time. See, nursing school does not prepare us to be fully independent practitioners of nursing. It prepares us just enough that we are ready to learn the rest. An RN's first hospital job will generally provide about 2-4 months of additional training and supervision, which makes hiring a new grad very expensive. With only so much money to go around in this economy, entry-level RN positions are getting a bit scarce.

By this point I have already tried the easy path and called on my friends, acquaintances, contacts, instructors, preceptors, and clinical sites. Nepotism has failed me. I'm down to sending in blind applications for open job postings.

Thus far it seems like my applications are not clearing the first hurdle, because I just haven't been getting any calls back. I'm sure that once I interview I can impress a nurse manager and land a position, but my resume must not be hitting the right health care buzzwords for HR. All my fancy leadership and collaboration experience is listed under IT jobs which they probably aren't bothering to read.

This week I'm going to step it up a notch. Instead of doing as the ads say and waiting for a response, I'm going make lots of phone calls and actively pester the HR folks. It may not be entirely polite, but it has worked for several of my (now freshly employed) classmates. Besides, it can't generate any fewer interviews than my current strategy.


  1. I think pestering HR is the right approach. Best of luck!

  2. Perhaps a non-traditional resume is needed here. It's how I got my last two jobs. I use an objective, and list my education, then list a set of experiences and skills in a non-dated way. This gets the skills and experiences up front without the dates and employer names to take focus away from those skill sets I have learned and developed. You might try that for a few of the places you want to work and see if that gets you any closer to a job. What can it hurt?

  3. Hi, see we (in UK) don't use CV's or anything for job hunting other than the online applications (in nursing). The CV can be taken to interview but best it's a portfolio. We have to fit the job spec. so I tailor my applications to suit that really, I never lie on it, unfortunately if I do not suit the job spec. I move on to another job application. Same as you, 100s of newly qualifieds going for the same job, and you have to stand out. I think what is happening is perhaps you are by chance not on top of the pile; and they get enough for interview before they even see your CV. The hospital I trained in are putting jobs up at the end of August, and we are supposed to all apply and 60% will get through we are told. I am already applying at any hospital that has jobs. There's one that I'll have to move to (if I get it), as they have just put out positions for newly qualified nurses to work in a cardiothoracic ICU, I was so excited when I saw that job so am waiting to hear if I have been shortlisted. Anyway, Good luck with it all, I hope you get a great job and am looking forward to reading about it.

  4. When I came out of nursing school back in the late 90's, I also couldn't find a job. I was out of money and I actually had to go crash in my sister's college dorm room. Yea, desperate times back then, and i went hospital to hospital in my area, talking to the nursing directors until one said that they had a paid internship. Yep, i paid to be preceptored, and if they liked me, then they would hired me. I was like, hell yea, ill take it. That eventually got me my first job.

    So indeed, you gotta hustle and get out there and start talking to the nursing managers in different floors. Kind of crazy, but i did it, and that's how i got that first job when nobody was hiring.

    Good news for you is that you got a computer programming background, and in a year, you can go for nursing informatics. I love my job now, and I can guarantee you that you will be in demand soon enough!!! :D

    Best of luck!

  5. I might try to merge nursing and IT at some later point in my career. But for my first job I think it's important to get a "normal" staff nurse position, so I don't get pigeonholed as a techie who just happens to have an RN.

  6. We are in the same boat. The job market in my town for new grads is *le suck* and it is just killing me. I am not used to having so much time on my hands [or being this broke].
    Blah. Things will look up soon. I am sure.