Panic is setting in for our senior nursing students...new grad jobs are hard to find. Understandably, students are frustrated...cries of "Its not fair, I've worked SO hard!" and "I've sent our fifteen applications, and haven't gotten ONE interview" are echoing the halls. So, here's some advice to all you wanna be nurses out there. First, get over it. Welcome to the real world of the state of the economy. For years now, although the unemployment rate has been high, new grad nurses have enjoyed the luxury of being able to pick and choose from among a plethora of job offers. But now, for the first time in many years, health care is being affected. Understand that you are graduating with some basic skills, a license (hopefully) but you are still an expensive proposition for hospitals. It costs a LOT of money and time to orient a new grad to the point where they can work autonomously. Its all a matter of dollars and cents, don't take it personally.
So, what can you do? And although my students are sick to death of hearing me say these things, I am going to go down the list once again.
#1. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Hospitals offer CEU programs. See a hospital you like? Call and ask what they're offering. Go to a program, introduce yourself to everybody and anybody. The person you impress MAY be your future nurse manager. Contact former students of your program who are working...they may have inside info of available jobs and would be happy to put in a good word for a fellow alum.
#2. Sent in an "online application"? Well, that's very nice...but follow it up with a hard copy. Preferably handed to the HR office in person, if possible. Hospitals get hundreds of online applications; take the time and effort to deliver something tangible.
#3. Do the research. Find out the name of the administrator (clinical leader, nurse manager, etc) of a unit on which you'd like to work. And send him or her a copy of your resume directly, with of course, a personalized cover letter.
#4. Don't be put off by "experienced nurses only" or "not hiring new grads". Hospitals may SAY that, but a week later may be in a position where they would be interested in considering your application. Apply ANYWAY.
#5. And this is probably the most difficult concept of all for students to accept. Be prepared to SETTLE. Please don't overlook positions in MD offices, clinics, rehabs, long term care, and (now, don't roll your eyes..) community health. I know its not your dream job, but you know what? The longer you sit around with that scarlet "NEW GRAD" logo emblazoned on your shiny new scrubs, the more competition you will have. A year from now, you'll still be a 'new grad', and your ambitious friend who took the job at Sunny Acres Retirement home will be an experienced RN who will have the opportunity to nail that hospital job.
So, good luck to all the about-to-be-new-grads out there. I have confidence that a year from now, you will all be working your butts off, looking back fondly on your last days as a nursing student, and longing for the academic schedule with its long winter break and summers off. And no doubt, you'll be making all your former nursing instructors proud.