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New Grad Losing Hope of Getting Job

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Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

What to Do When You are Ready to Give up the Job Search

Looking and finding that first nursing job can be a long and stressful journey for new grads. The reality shock can be overwhelming and cause some to give up hope too early. Read on to discover some of Nurse Beth's helpful tips.

New Grad Losing Hope of Getting Job

Hi Nurse Beth,

I graduated from nursing school in December 2019. I passed my NCLEX Feb 2020. I just moved to Minnesota in January. I have no nursing experience in a hospital, no CNA experience, no hospital volunteer experience. I have applied to 20+ jobs and have been rejected to all. The farthest I have gotten were 2 job interviews (one of them was a phone interview). I did not know I should have been searching for jobs way before graduating, so I'm a little behind. My question is: should I just apply to CNA jobs and work myself up from there, start looking for long term care RN jobs, or be patient and apply to more hospital jobs. I am really losing hope.

Thank you so much!

Dear Losing Hope,

CONGRATS on graduating!

It's way too early in the game for you to lose hope. You are 20 applications and 1 month in. Many new grads take months to land their first job. You're experiencing a bit of reality shock.

Yes, it definitely is recommended to start your Job Search while you're still in school, and more schools should tell their students.

For now, the best thing is to optimize your resume and hone your interview skills.

I would love for you to read my book listed below, because I have so many tips for you from an insider's point of view. Right now it's all about strategy, and finding a way to stand out from all the other applicants.

Landing a job is your full-time job right now.

Resume

You must individualize your resume for each organization. I sat in on a phone interview with a nurse from Ireland who was applying to the hospital where I work in California. He knew exactly what part of town we are located in, and that we were recently Stroke certified. He knew our mission and values and said he was working on his conversational Spanish (large Spanish-speaking population). You can see that he was a savvy interviewer and he definitely stood out.

Have you learned to optimize your resume for automated tracking system (ATS) software by using keywords from the job posting? Important. Using the right words can get your resume in front of a recruiter

Interviews

Your resume landed you 2 interviews, but your interviews didn't get you to the next level.

They are looking for someone who is a safe practitioner, and who will fit in. Candidates don't always understand that. For instance, an applicant prepping for a Tele interview may misguidedly study up on heart block interpretations. But a hiring manager knows you do not have experience, and they are not looking to trip a new grad up on their knowledge.

Let's say they give you a scenario where you are alone with the patient in the room, and the patient collapses. They want you to answer that you'll stay with the patient, assess and support, and call for help. Initiate BLS if the patient arrested. This shows you understand your limits and are safe. Now if you think critically by saying you anticipate an EKG or labs, that's even better.

Likewise, you can count on being asked some standard behavioral questions, and you need to prepare your answers. You will likely be asked "What's your greatest weakness?" A standard answer is "I'm a perfectionist" Standard, disingenuous, and it doesn't help you to stand out.

An avoidance answer is "I'm not good at public speaking". It's not relevant because public speaking is not a skill required for the job. An unwise answer is "I can't handle stress" because stress management is required to succeed as a nurse.

A good answer is "I'm not a natural at delegating. I try to do everything myself. I'm beginning to understand that it takes all of us working as a team to get it all done. In my last clinicals I made a point to ask my PCT to please take a set of vital signs for me because I was passing meds. It worked out great, and I'm going to keep practicing"

In this way you turned a weakness into a positive. Notice the word weakness was never used in the response.

Always be prepared with a couple of questions when asked "What questions do you have for us?" A good answer is "Do you have shared governance, or what ways are there to get involved in projects once I get through orientation?"

I have a bookful of tips like these for you. There are bold risky moves, such as cold-calling, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do a cold-call.

Consider re-locating if need be to land that all-important first job. You don't say where in Minnesota you live, but Mayo Clinic is known for being new grad friendly.

Best, best wishes to you 🙂

Nurse Beth

 

Hi! Nice to meet you! I love helping new nurses in all my various roles. I work in a hospital in Staff Development, and am a blogger and author.

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38 Comment(s)

ClaraRedheart, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 7 years experience.

I didn't have a job when I graduated either. I was working as a PCT at a hospital that I liked and kept waiting for them to release their new grad positions, all of the other new grad positions in the system were released and filled. When I asked my supervisor, she said "Oh, no one told you? Our hospital can't afford to hire new grads this year". It was devastating. I was looking at moving. I think I was the only one in my cohort not to have a job at graduation. My hospital called me. They had previously rejected my application without an interview, but someone failed the NCLEX. I love it here. It's been 6 years now and I don't plan on going anywhere else.

How soon to look for jobs depends on the area.

Some employers would not look at your application without an RN license for their state, and here is the kicker -

When you do get that license, they may still not look at you because they already eliminated you for not having that license when you submitted your job application the first time around.

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

I graduated in December and didnt get a job until May. I passed NCLEX in February also, and got my license in March.

Where I live, they didnt really want to hear from you until you had a license.

I remember feeling very desperate and miserable, but it turned out great. I got the job I wanted.

Keep applying for what you want. Hang in there. You need to give it at least 6 months past licensure.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

On 2/18/2020 at 1:50 PM, FolksBtrippin said:

I graduated in December and didnt get a job until May. I passed NCLEX in February also, and got my license in March.

Where I live, they didnt really want to hear from you until you had a license.

I remember feeling very desperate and miserable, but it turned out great. I got the job I wanted.

Keep applying for what you want. Hang in there. You need to give it at least 6 months past licensure.

Depending on where you live, it may be longer. But hang in there, a great job is waiting!

bluescrubs, ADN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Corrections, Surgical. Has 1 years experience.

Unfortunately it's a waiting game. I also graduated in December and just passed my NCLEX. I am waiting for the official license. I don't know if I should wait till I have the official license to start applying since it seems like until they can verify that you have a license, you're invisible to them. I understand the process though, they have so many new grads to pick from and it's expensive to train a new grad.

I graduated nursing school in December, took the NCLEX late January. I watched most of my classmates land nurse residency jobs, which I decided not to apply to since I wanted to move out of that city. There are two big hospitals where I live now and I applied to both during my last semester and after I graduated (One hospital has a two-year contract, the other doesn’t but it’s hard to get into). I went to a few interviews and was offered one position before passing the NCLEX, but I decided not to take it since I was hesitant to be on a two-year contract. I passed NCLEX, kept applying, and searched for job fairs (planned on going to four). Long story short I met two recruiters for the hospital I wanted to work for and I was able to land a job as a RN at a magnet hospital. I am excited to finally start this month!

I would suggest looking into job fairs in your area and attend them if you can. The first job fair I attended was for experienced RNs but new grads were welcomed. Even though I didn’t get hired on the spot, I was able to network and meet recruiters who helped me! Also prepare for your interviews and how to answer questions. Don’t give up! Keep applying! Good luck on your journey.

DextersDisciple, BSN, RN

Has 8 years experience.

You will need to apply to jobs outside of the hospital. It’s not what e want to hear but it least it’s a nursing job.

This doesn’t mean just nursing homes or rehabs. Try Drs offices, clinics, infusion centers, radiation centers etc

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

I did not job hunt before graduation. I was exactly one year ahead of you in terms of timing. I got my first interview in February and started work in March. That was after many rejections which honestly seemed like auto-rejections from hospital online application programs (I’m not sure a human ever looked at them).

perc71, BSN, MSN, APRN, NP

Has 14 years experience.

1 hour ago, CommunityRNBSN said:

I did not job hunt before graduation. I was exactly one year ahead of you in terms of timing. I got my first interview in February and started work in March. That was after many rejections which honestly seemed like auto-rejections from hospital online application programs (I’m not sure a human ever looked at them).

You are right. Nurse Beth's advice is to beat the ATS or an online AI used by recruiters to sort their candidates. It is 2020 and the days of going to HR physically and filling out an application form using your pen are gone.

I applied everywhere. I had a total of 7 interviews. I had two job offers. I graduated in May 2016, passed my RRT in June, moved in October 2016. Home was saturated so I had no choice but to move.

Nurse Pink, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg. Has 2 years experience.

I had no hospital experience. I graduated in May 2019 with a ADN. I passed my Nclex by August 2019. I started to apply to all the hospital by January 2019, but nothing. I started working in home healthcare, which I did not really wanted to, but I had to make money to start my BSN. I was glad, I gained some skills. I ended up applying to 35 residency programs in the hospital of my dreams plus who knows how many more in other hospitals. By December I got 2 interviews, and in February 2020 I had other 2. I ended up getting a job in MedSurg. I start in May 2020, a year later after my graduation in MY DREAM HOSPITAL. It was a long way but I perceived and kept trying.
Do not give up.

I’d say a good part of it is where you are. If you applied at our hospital right now they’d hire you for sure. We need staff. I was hired right off my NCLEX. There are places that need you, just gotta find them, may just have to move..

Edited by Jay Nvck

CKPM2RN, ASN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency/Med-Tele. Has 3 years experience.

I had to start in Skilled Nursing. Not where I wanted to be but it was a job and more importantly, it was good experience. It took 2 1/2 years after NCLEX to get where I wanted to be, but everything before that was good background experience.

There is a ton of need in Skilled Nursing and you will gain medication knowledge, leadership skills, delegation skills, and importantly you will learn how to talk to the doctors that can't or won't come in to assess the patients for themselves. You'll also learn to work with a lot of different situations; foleys, wounds, feeding tubes, etc.

I won't lie, it is HARD. You'll likely be understaffed and without the proper supplies half the time. What is rewarding though is most of the clients are terrific. Most.

I am starting to think finding a decent paying job as a nurse is not as close to what many nursing schools present! thats very discouraging! what happened to the shortage we have been hearing about for years! or is it only certain professions in the healthcare industry ( PAs, MDs, etc)

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

9 minutes ago, xindin said:

I am starting to think finding a decent paying job as a nurse is not as close to what many nursing schools present! thats very discouraging! what happened to the shortage we have been hearing about for years! or is it only certain professions in the healthcare industry ( PAs, MDs, etc)

There's regional shortages of experienced nurses, but surpluses of new grads. It's very competitive in some areas.

23 minutes ago, Nurse Beth said:

There's regional shortages of experienced nurses, but surpluses of new grads. It's very competitive in some areas.

So, this will drive the pay for nurses down then

midnighter94, ADN

Specializes in OB. Has 27 years experience.

Keep trying! Reach out, try to find out the manager's names on the floors and see if you can directly email your resume to them. Sometimes the HR department is not fabulous at getting resumes where they need to get to. Don't rule out specialty departments, such as cardiac or ICU. Go to job fairs. Know that you will be working midnight shift - at least for awhile. Do not say that you can't! That's a huge red flag. Work it out, find a sitter, whatever it takes. On a medical floor, it probably won't be for too long. When you get an interview, dress appropriately, be early, ask something, anything - I hate when we do peer interviews and the person has no questions for us. How long is orientation? Is it just with 1 preceptor, or multiple?