New Nurse, New Job Strategies
by Donna Cardillo, RN, MA
There is an interesting phenomenon occurring that is temporarily squeezing the job market for new graduates in some parts of the country.
Because of the highly publicized nursing shortage, many experienced nurses who have been out of the workforce are returning to work. Likewise,
many older nurses who were expected to retire are continuing to work because they want/need the income and benefits or because they prefer to
stay engaged in their profession.
Additionally, because of the rising cost of just about everything, and a slump in the economy, many
experienced nurses, in an effort to boost their income, are picking up extra shifts when they can, and some part-timers are expanding their
hours. In some cases, a nurse may have been at home raising a family when his or her spouse was laid off, necessitating that nurse's return to
All this means that new graduates may need to look a little longer and harder - and possibly in different areas - for their
first nursing positions.
So what's a new grad to do? For starters, focus your job-finding efforts on networking (a.k.a. word of mouth).
One way to do this is to join and attend local meetings of your state chapter of the American Nurses Association and to volunteer for a
committee there that interests you. Most state chapters offer reduced dues for new graduates. This is a great way to make valuable
connections, learn about opportunities, market yourself, and find mentors. And while this is a step that every new grad should take,
it becomes even more important during challenging times.
You should also be going to Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek Career Fairs and to
open house/recruitment events. Arrive at these events dressed in a business suit or your best outfit. Come prepared with business cards and
copies of your résumé. Shake hands, make eye contact, and engage the recruiter in conversation about what his or her facility has to offer.
Demonstrate enthusiasm, interest and professionalism. When all is said and done, employers are still looking for someone with a positive,
upbeat attitude who projects a professional image.
You also could volunteer as a nurse in a healthcare setting while you look for
paid employment. You may even be able to find a paying job and some training at a local blood bank, neighborhood clinic, public health
department, or other outpatient setting. Be sure to have professional liability insurance even for volunteer nursing work.
Consider nontraditional work settings until a hospital position (if that's what you want to do) comes up. For example, look into
long-term care, assisted living, psychiatric nursing, rehabilitation, and other care settings. It's also important to note that
healthcare is shifting out of the hospital and into alternative care settings, the community and the home. So the old advice of
starting your nursing career in the hospital and getting two years of med/surg experience is no longer the rule of thumb.
Create a LinkedIn account and get active with other forms of social media. This is a valuable way and place to network. Keep all
of your online communication and profile information professional. Prospective employers do check these things!
Nursing shortage or not, the job market fluctuates periodically and will continue to do so throughout your career. Always be
flexible and creative in the job search process. There is something to learn in every situation - about yourself, about nursing,
about health care and about the world around you.
Copyright Gannett Healthcare
Group (www.nurse.com). All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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