I graduated in May 2010 from a college in Georgia, and I moved to Orange County a few days after graduation. I didn't go to school in California, did not yet have CA endorsement (had a Georgia RN), and knew no RNs in the area, and had no clue where to start looking, yet I managed to find a job by June 2010. Here's what I recommend:
Think of where you would like to work (particular unit, ie: Med Surg, Tele, Oncology, ICU, ER, etc) and target your resume and skills toward that field.
For example, I always knew I wanted to work in ICU, so I did the following: (And I was hired in ICU)
-Basic Wound Care (just a one day class)
-IV Starts/Blood Draws (another one day class)
-Joined ANA (American Nurses Assoc)
-Joined AACN (American Assoc of Critical Care Nurses)
-Joined ENA (Emergency Nurses' Assoc)
1) I didn't really waste my time applying to countless new grad programs for several reasons. One, I didn't go to school here. Two, I had NO connections (these days, it IS who you know). Three, THOUSANDS of new grads who went to school here were applying, some of whom had probably even done clinicals at those hospitals and therefore had connections.
2) I went where the crowd of new grads didn't go: Community Hospitals (200 beds or less). I called those hospitals (direct number), asked to speak to the unit manager of (insert floor here). I did not immediately blurt out that I was a new grad. I would instead discuss my certifications, goals (MSN, CCRN, etc), and skills. Inevitably, the question of how much experience I had would arise. I would answer honestly. I got interviews that way.
I interviewed for one ER job and one ICU job. I chose the ICU job. Although I work for a local community hospital, I went through an awesome residency. They supported me, gave me an awesome preceptor, and told me to take as much time as I wanted. They also agreed to pay for any education classes I wanted to take, such as a Critical Care Course, etc. Although they told me it would probably take me 3 months of orientation, they told me I could take as much time as I wanted. It is an amazing opportunity. Having worked almost a year for them, I have been oriented in ER as well as Tele so I periodically float to both those floors, so it is great experience. Being a small hospital, there is a small number of employees and therefore I have a HUGE opportunity to advance very quickly if I want. I also work beside some nurses who work PD or PT and some FT at other huge hospitals, so now if I wanted to, I could work for a big hospital. Also, because this is a small hospital and our care is limited, my residency was not a really overwhelming experience. I got the basic skills to build on in order to be comfortable without going through sensory overload. BEST OF ALL, the hospital is THREE MILES from my house! No freeways!
My particular hospital has hired numerous new grads in different areas in the hospital, though they don't advertise a formal new grad program. Many community hospitals operate this way.
KNOWING WHAT I KNOW NOW, HERE IS WHAT I'D RECOMMEND:
1) Join your local AACN, ENA, or other specialty area, and ATTEND A CHAPTER MEETING. You WILL meet people
2) Attend a Magnet meeting
3) Take a lot of classes (nurses attend those, and it's a great way to network!)
4) I have not had any luck applying online to job applications (this is just my experience)
5) I did have luck calling floors directly
6) If there is not an opening currently, KEEP CALLING the unit director every week. Send a thank-you card. Send a Holiday card.
I still actively follow these new grad threads because I feel your pain. Though I was fortunate to not spend months and months looking for jobs, I understand how hard it is.
I hope this helps someone.