Old Grad- can't find a job


Hey guys.

I guess I'm mainly just looking for advice/ encouragement. I am an old New Grad. I graduated with my ADN last May from a City College in socal, passed NCLEX in November, and have been on the job hunt ever since. I got my ACLS cert right after passing NCLEX and applied to an online RN-BSN program but have not been able to take any classes because it costs about $800 every 5 weeks and I just don't have that kind of money left over after food and rent. (The school will hold my application for up to a year).

It has officially been a year since I graduated and 7 months since I started applying for jobs (but I know employers will probably focus more on my graduation date than on my NCLEX pass date). I've yet to receive any offers for interviews. I've "fixed" my resume many times, but I'm really starting to feel like I have nothing to offer. My knowledge and skills are fading. Also, even though I got all A's and passed in 75 Q's, I wasn't very proactive while in school and only have 1 letter of recommendation from my critical care clinical instructor. I tried reaching out to old instructors after passing NCLEX when I first started applying to jobs, but none of them ever replied.

I'm seriously feeling like there's no hope left for me, my family is always asking why I don't have a job yet, and I'm starting to wonder if putting myself through nursing school was even worth it.

I guess I just want to hear from people who were in similar situations and managed to actually make it as a nurse. And maybe some advice. I was never really able to apply to New Grad programs because they all require 2-3 recommendation letters, and it seems like those will be impossible to get at this point. I feel like I really screwed myself by not being more proactive during nursing school, but I honestly didn't think letters of recommendation would be such a huge deal when applying to jobs.

I've also only recently started applying to sub-acute jobs because everything I've read tells me that my license would not be safe there, but I feel like it's my only option. At this point I'm willing to relocate to just about anywhere in the state (I feel like the process for transferring my license to another state will take too long and working at a sub-acute facility might be a better option.)

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

2 Articles; 6,840 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 12 years experience.

Hi there. I am so sorry to hear about your frustrations. You have done well to expand your search. You will likely find, in Southern Cal, that your ADN is what is holding you back from being appealing to hospitals more than the time it has been since you graduated.

SNF and LTACH can be challenging environments, to be sure, but far too many nurses do make a career there for it to be swept aside as a viable option. I would encourage you to continue looking at those, at rehab hospitals/floors as well as jails/prisons, school nursing, clinic nursing, dialysis and the like. I have heard that northern California and more rural areas are less saturated and a bit more new grad friendly, so be sure to expand into those regions as well.

Getting your license endorsed to another state is very doable, so if you are open to it, you may find some other areas that would be looking to hire.

Good luck to you!


38,333 Posts

There are strategies to help, but who ever tells the majority of us what the secrets are? And who will help if it takes their assistance for something?

I think you are dwelling too much on the references. Make one more effort: visit the school and mosey around, looking for a familiar face or photo on the mug shot board, and see if you can get a "sidewinder" reference from an empathetic instructor. Then lay it to rest and get generic references from current supervisors, minister, etc. There are all kinds of examples available out there. Offer to write the letter yourself for their signature. Or they can tweak before signing.

Go in person, dressed to interview, with your employment paperwork in a folder. Nine point nine times out of ten, that is how I have been hired. Not one, not one, not one, online application has ever even produced a response for me. If they can't interview you on the spot, often you can arrange an appointment for an interview or to fill out a paper application. You don't think the people at that place won't notice that you are proactive?

The last advice, and there is a treasure trove of other stories about finding work on this website, is the old one, "Don't give up".

Enarra, BSN, RN

146 Posts

Specializes in Ambulatory Primary Care. Has 11 years experience.

Yep echoing other poster: keep on going

for my very first nursing job it took 450 unique applications And I was ready to go to 1000 if that’s what it took. I tried everything in person, online, networking, etc. Talk to recruiters both at hospitals and temp agencies that’s how my friend also an old grad got her first job.

and with covid19 most hospitals have a hiring freeze. Best of luck.

Specializes in Med-surg, telemetry, oncology, rehab, LTC, ALF. Has 7 years experience.

So I was in your position almost four years ago. I was an old new grad, worked only 4 months in a new grad program before I realized I hated it, and then remained unemployed for over a year while actively looking for another job.

My advice is to expand your interests. Look for volunteer opportunities for nurses at free clinics. You probably have some in your area. This is a good source of references - people who are actively working with you, know who you are and your work ethic. I also second visiting your school/professors in person. This often is much more effective than a random email - they likely get dozens of these every week and can't always reply to them in a timely manner. You could also try adding them on LinkedIn, facebook, etc. (I'm still friends with all of my professors on FB - which is incredibly helpful for tracking them down in case you decide to go to grad school one day, btw.)

I would also look at other areas of nursing besides hospital nursing. I ended up getting a job in LTC/SNF which, while not ideal, was still a nursing job. It honestly isn't that bad and it paid more than my prior hospital nursing job. Also look at dialysis and home health. Once you finally do get that job, hold onto it for a least a year before you move on to something else.

Best of luck! Don't give up.