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Job Hunting: Let The Games Begin!


Looking for a new job in today's market is quite an adventure, especially if you're an older nurse with a few dings and dents in your employment record. It's sort of like searching for Easter eggs in tall grass: you may very well find a treasure, but there's always the risk of coming up with a fresh handful of lawn fudge.

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

How to find a nursing job with a bad employment record?

Job Hunting: Let The Games Begin!

As much fun as job-hunting is (said no one ever), I knew I was doomed the very first time I visited the Employment Division's Job Search website and found only a handful of Nursing Jobs that I can actually do. Sixteen years of experience under my belt, and it appears that the only things I'm good for anymore are per diem jobs giving flu shots (at $20 per hour and no benefits), and management positions like the one that nearly cost me every last marble I had left to play with.

Um.....no thanks.

So, I've been on a search-and-rescue mission to salvage what may be left of my career while fulfilling the work-search requirements each week. I haven't even received my first benefit check yet, and I've already applied for eight different positions (only one of which I'm actually qualified for) as well as visiting the office twice for classes on interviewing skills and dealing with the hard questions.

Like the dreaded "Describe your weaknesses". YIKES! What am I supposed to say--- "You name it, I've got 'em all"? Well, I do. I'm disorganized, I don't suffer fools gladly, and I'm so anal-retentive about certain things that you couldn't pull a needle out of my butt with a tractor. I'm also apt to question authority and ask "Why?" too often, which doesn't exactly win friends and influence bosses. The name of the game, of course, is to turn those weaknesses into strengths: instead of being a little OCDish, for example, one is expected to play up her/his "keen eye for details".

That said, I must confess that I rather like the way job-hunting is done nowadays. Instead of dragging myself out of bed at oh-dark-thirty and getting dressed up in a suit and heels, I get to conduct my search from home. I mean, nobody hires off the street anymore. And frankly, there's nothing more comfy than sitting in front of my home computer in my jammies, with a steaming cuppa joe on the desk and the cat 'assisting' me with uh8emxlahg9szha2ngienynb (AKA typing my resume).

So this morning I've been really productive, which is why I feel I'm entitled to a break so I can write about something I want to write about. I am no more suited for the three jobs I applied for today than I am to be a sportscaster or an astronaut, but what the heck---I'm looking, aren't I? Today's jobs were so different from each other (not to mention different from anything I've ever done before) that even I had to be amazed at my own audacity in sending in my resume.

One was for a .8 FTE clinic RN position at an urgent care center only two miles from my house; the pay is lousy and there are rotating weekends, but it's a perfect 32 hours a week, and I'd save a ton of money by not having to commute. I've never worked in a clinic in my life and don't know if I could handle the pace (especially during cold and flu season), but it sure looks good on my work-search record.

Another was for a hospital discharge planner. I've always thought I'd like to do that, because I've worked with some awesome ones; luckily the not-so-awesome ones whom I've wanted to strangle usually don't last long, so the positions come open fairly frequently. Here's one I am totally underqualified for: they 'prefer' a BSN with a background in discharge planning or utilization review who knows how to access resources and deal with Medicare/Medicaid and health insurance. I'm an ADN with absolutely none of that type of experience, and the only HMO/PPO I've worked with on a regular basis is Kaiser, an organization which I loathe with every fiber of my being for a myriad of reasons.

Then, there's the adolescent mental health nurse position that I still can't believe I even considered applying for, let alone did it. When I first looked at the posting, I thought "ugh, teenagers with psych issues---wait a minute, don't they ALL have psych issues?" Well, two of mine certainly did---one was a cutter with severe depression, and the other was an Asperger's kid who went on to develop bipolar disorder in his teens. But as I thought over the mental health experience I've gotten over the years---not only in dealing with my own problems and those of my children, but with patients who had multiple psychiatric illnesses as well as some rather bizarre behaviors---I realized that I just might be good at this. Who knows?

Now here I still sit, cold coffee in the mug and the kitten wrapped around the back of my neck, fast asleep after his keyboarding lesson....and I feel oddly hopeful for the first time in weeks. Maybe I'm done grieving for the loss of my old job and beginning to move forward into the next phase of my working life; maybe it's a false hope that's mercifully keeping the fear at bay until I can truly grasp the magnitude of the changes necessary for me to remain relevant. But whatever the reason, I think I'm a little less at the mercy of that fear, and have taken the first steps in regaining some control over my life.

I may not know where I'm going yet.....but at least it's not where I've been.

I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at allnurses.com and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

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29 Comment(s)

Job searching is no fun at all. I commend you for your strength to move forward in not dwell on the negative. I'm sure the job for you will open up soon!

Tina, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, CM, School Nursing. Has 20 years experience.

Best wishes to you, Viva!


Specializes in Care Coordination, MDS, med-surg, Peds. Has 22 years experience.

Viva!! You crcked me up the needle and the tractor line!!! ummm I understand the thought!! LOL

Have you considered MDS in a SNF? takes alot of attention to detail, is generally user friendly with feet/legs, stressful, but not as bad as floor nursing AND you get to be the CHART NAZI and check everything out. Kinda like CSI!!! Experience is good, but I learned "off the street" so to speak!

Anyways, best wishes and HAPPY HUNTING!!! picture Elmer Fudd going after Bugs Bunny!!!

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

I wish you the best of luck with this new phase in your life, Viva. Being jobless is scary, but being without a job in late middle age can be even more frightening with the reality of ageism in our society. I'll hope and pray for a job to be bestowed upon you, especially one that is an optimal fit.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

((HUGS)) I'm sending prayers !!!!


Has 2 years experience.

I love your posts Viva! Searching for jobs myself, it's tough. Keep your head up, you WILL find one!

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

Can you write and get published/paid? I think you can! Good Luck!

Viva, love your posts! I definitely agree with what others have said, you can write! The only thing that makes me nervous is what you and many other posters have said, its hard to find a job when you are over 50. I am finding that myself, and to top it off I am a new grad! But after 3 months of applying and only 1 interview, there seems to besome ageism going on. I made it through nursing school, and passed boards on my first try, so that should count for something, right?


Specializes in LTC. Has 22 years experience.

I second the MDS pro at a LTC facility. I loathe that sort of stuff and avoid it like the plague. I know of facilities here in Maine that hire just for that. Wanna come?

Another job would be doing chart reviews...or working for the state doing annual reviews at LTC.

Know that there is something out there just for you and you will get there, my friend!

So glad you're thinking outside of the box (or at least, outside of your comfort zone and experience). Having worked for a Staffing agency in years past, I learned that hiring managers ask for the moon, knowing full well they're likely to receive nothing but rocks.

I don't mean to compare you to a rock by any means....your writing is clearly that of an educated and personable woman....my point is they ask for far more than what is necessary. As long as you meet some of the criteria and interview well, you may stand a much better chance than you think and one of these positions just may turn into something wonderful --- or lead to something wonderful.

Like other readers on here, I thoroughly enjoy the whit and sarcasm conveyed through your posts. I do hope you pursue writing on the side while you wait to get those calls for interviews. Some of my favorite books are memoirs. Truth will always be stranger (and more interesting) than fiction and with 16 years' experience, I'm sure you have some stories you can put to paper. Journal some random short stories and after several months, a little organization and editing may turn those stories into a publishable memoir. I'm sure everyone on AN would buy it! :yes:

I also wanted to say I love your new-found enthusiasm and I, too, loved the needle and tractor analogy. hahahaha!!! :roflmao:

Edited by 1feistymama
added paragraph

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Thanks, all. I love you!!

If the people at the state employment division office are trying to drive me crazy, it's too late. For some reason my claim is STILL hung up, so I've been on hold for over an hour to try to find out why.......and listening to the same four variations on the theme of "we're experiencing a high volume of calls" over and over again, which are interspersed with the same loop of elevator music. FOR OVER AN HOUR, I tell you.

Come to think of it, the fact that I haven't thrown the phone through the window yet, or stood out on the front lawn screaming profanities in the rain, speaks well of the state of my mental health. I guess they think that since I'm unemployed, I've got all day to sit around watching my phone battery drain. Ye gawds. :mad: