I graduated yesterday with my BSN, and about an hour after the ceremonies had concluded, in the car on my way to a celebratory lunch I got a phone call from the nurse recruiter at the hospital where I had interviewed twice within the last month and a half. She had "great news" ... the unit on which I interviewed wants to offer me a new grad position on their unit! I start in July. Best graduation present ever? You bet!!!
How did I do it in the midst of this economy and oversaturated market of new grads?
For those of you already out of school
: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Don't underestimate the power of it. In these times, getting to know people is your best bet in making sure you're at the front of the line when it comes to remembering you for job openings. Most people who cannot find a job after graduation I have noticed simply sit behind a computer sending out resumes blindly without any effort at meeting people in person, waiting for a call or simply just following up with a phone call. When you meet people who are in a position to hire (recruiter, nurse managers, even RN staff that have some say on a unit), make sure you remember them and give them an opportunity to know who you are and what you can do. This should not be a one-time meeting. It takes continuous interaction in however way productive and appropriate. Attend networking events and invest face time somehow at the locations in which you would like to work (volunteering on a med-surg floor, etc.).
For those of you still in school
: If your school has a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) option for clinicals and capstone, do it! This opportunity enables you to work 1:1 with a preceptor for an extended period of time (clinical and capstone) and it is oftentimes a chance for staff to see if you have the potential to work well on that unit as an employed nurse. This is different from traditional clinical groups, in which you are often one of 6-8 students working with an instructor (I have not heard of DEUs being possible for every clinical experience in nursing school, as for the most part most clinicals are in the traditional format). The DEU is designed primarily for that reason: these are units that have the potential to have openings for new staff and will look to hire people first that have worked on that unit. They rather look to them first than an external candidate who has to learn things on the unit from the ground up. If your school does not have a DEU, if you're early enough in your nursing school tenure, suggest starting one with your school's administration (Google Dedicated Education Unit to get more details to back up your arguments for establishing one). As a last resort, the NETWORK advice still stands!
For those of you choosing nursing schools
: Consider nursing schools that have a tight affiliation with a hospital, particularly hospitals affiliated with a university and a nursing program. 9 times out of 10 those hospitals prefer to hire their own graduates, so you have a better chance at getting a job. University Hospitals tend to be larger teaching hospitals and trauma centers, which in essence means there are more openings overall. This is one important factor that most people overlook when choosing a nursing program. The quality of education, accreditation and NCLEX pass rate are significant factors to consider ... but think about how well the program is geared to place you in a position to get hired somewhere. Again, networking potential is huge.
My tips above come directly from my experience, and I understand many people may not be in a position to take advantage of some of the advice I shared here. However, I just want to offer hope to those of you that continue to think that no one is hiring. It's 2012 and I did get a job literally right after graduation. See? It's quite possible.
My mantra still holds true from when I used to post about getting into nursing school, and now as I enter the profession: NEVER GIVE UP!
Good luck to all of you!