I'm experienced. Why can't I even get an interview?

Nurses Career Support


Specializes in Pediatrics, Cardiology, Geriatrics.

Sorry. This might be a long story. I graduated with an ADN in 2006. I immediately got my dream job at a pediatric hospital. Due to family problems (very sick relative, along with domestic violence issues), the 2 - 3 hour commute each way became too much (I couldn't move closer), so I reluctantly left after a year-and-a-half. I just couldn't leave my family member alone that long. I found a job in a rehab facility that was closer, but after management did nothing about a resident who attacked a neighbor (knocked several teeth out) and a family member threatened to sue over mistakes made by other nurses, I left after a month to save my own license. I was able to explain this to my next boss, at a community hospital, and all was fine. Unfortunately, my family member became so ill that she needed 24 hour care and supervision, and as there was no money to place her in a home, I ended up losing my job after 2 months for excessive absences. After that, I decided that it would be better to stay home and care for her, and now that she doesn't need me any more (over 2 years later), I cannot get an interview, let alone hired.

I understand that some may think that I'm not a good bet, because I have demonstrated that I put my family before my career. There is nothing I can do about that. However, I am a really good nurse, and I don't understand why it seems like I'm being punished for sacrificing my career temporarily and doing the right thing.

To bide my time and try to stay current/improve myself, I'm completing an RN-BSN program (I'll be done in a few months). I thought that perhaps the fact that almost all the hospitals near me are Magnet now meant that the problem was my lack of a BSN. I've sent out hundreds of resumes and applications. Nothing is happening, and I really want to get back to working. I know the nursing job shortage is not helping me at all.

Do you think that the problem is the perception of job hopping, the 2 year gap, or the lack of a BSN? Could it be the job shortage? Does anyone have any advice on how I can try to turn this around? I have no money and tons of debt now, and I can't afford to go get extra certifications (PALS, ACLS) or do a refresher course. I don't even know if doing any of that would help. I'm becoming very depressed, and I don't know what to do. Please don't flame me. Thanks!

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

FWIW: I have over 15 years' experience, most of it as an RN, and for several months this year I was unable to find a fulltime job after being laid off from an LTC. I've also got a steady work history, excellent recommendations, and many different areas of knowledge, but even though I was getting interviews, I wasn't getting hired. It's a tough market out there thanks to our sour economy; like you, I was becoming depressed and felt absolutely worthless, and at one point I was seriously thinking about getting out of nursing entirely.

Your RN-BSN course is a good one to follow, as most Magnet hospitals either require or "strongly prefer" the BSN-prepared nurse. It's also needed for many management positions and other non-bedside Nursing Jobs, such as clinical instructors at community colleges and public health nurses.

You may want to consider consulting a resume-writing specialist, such as Indeed.com and CareerBuilder, to learn how to polish and perfect your resume so that it emphasizes your skills and qualifications, while minimizing the appearance of job-hopping.

Yes, your spotty work history may be a factor, but once you're in the interviewer's office you can explain any issues (never trashing a former employer, of course!) and let them know that they are resolved now.

But whatever you do: DON'T. GIVE. UP. There IS a job out there for you, and you just have to keep on looking until you find it. It may take a week, it may take a year, but you will find it as long as you don't take yourself out of the game. Good luck, and do keep us posted.

It's a really tough job market even for those with picture perfect work histories. You're not being punished for doing the right thing by your family. It's just that your ability to return work has unfortunately overlapped with a very tight job market, even for experienced nurses.

VivaLasViejas gives some advice on what you can do to improve your odds. If you can more easily land a job in another line of work, you might want to do that while still applying for Nursing Jobs, because you never know which application might be the one that gets you in!

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