Quote from Alka_Selse BSc
Do you have any suggestions, or have you heard any suggestions, for new graduates to help get their foot in the door and get that first amount of experience to build from? When jobs are short, are there opportunities for something like volunteering on-call shifts at the very least? Or do initial employment opportunities tend to be made during the education process?
Some people in my class got jobs through connections and network, so I would definitely suggest you to start making your connections and building your network in nursing school. Whenever you do clinicals at hospital units, make a good impression while you're there--let the manager know your interest in working there after graduation, and follow up.
Another suggestion is to work as an employed student nurse--a few people in my class got job offers on the unit that they worked as an employed student nurse. However, in my class, I would say about 5% of the people who held an employed student nurse position actually got a job on the unit that they worked at.
Another way is to luck out and get a final practicum on a specialty area--all the people who got a full time line from my graduation class did so by competing for a final practicum in a highly specialized area, did a great job at the practicum and were offered jobs like that. But I only recommend this if you're absolutely sure of the speciality you want before trying to get a job this way.
I'm not too sure about volunteering on call shifts--you may be able to score a casual or an on call line. There aren't very many full time lines for new grads. Jobs in the city are scarce, and your best bet is to find a job in a rural area. Rural hospitals are always needing nurses, and they often are more than happy to hire a new grad and train them. As well, rural hospitals offer very good experience for the new grad...but you have to be willing to sacrifice what you love and know about city living, and leave that all behind. Also try to apply for LTC and nursing homes, clinics, doctor's offices, whatever job ads you see that you're remotely fit for in terms of criteria. Other than that, I have no real suggestions other than to keep trying, keep polishing that resume and cover letter, and to keep practicing your interview skills.
Health authorities offer new grad positions a few times a year (coinciding with graduation times), so there are opportunites spread throughout the year...but if you read posts on here, you will know that it is more the exception than the norm to have a job offer waiting for you by the time you graduate. The competition is fierce, and with the nursing shortage promised by the media to be nowhere in sight, new grads are having a hard time trying to find a job vacancy in a saturated market.
Best of luck =)