I graduated last Dec and feel your pain, it's stressful! I have been lucky enough to find a job, with no previous hospital work experience or connections. Here are just a few tips that have worked for myself and some classmatesâ€¦
-Find networking events. Allina, Abbott NW and Fairview all had them and I went to numerous ones, basically whenever I was free for it. Its a great way to get in front of recruiters and hiring managers, and you never know who you might make a good connection with. You can find out about them by following the major hospitals on linked in, or by contacting the HR/recruiting department directly.
-Don't apply for EVERYTHING! In fact, that was one of the most surprising things I learned through networking with recruiters and is one of the biggest mistakes applicants make. Apparently if you are applying for everything under the sun, it makes it seem you are desperate and that the job you've applied for isn't your "real passion". (I know, passions aren't the biggest concern when first graduating, we just want a job! but apparently this is a red flag for them) They also said that as they flip through the hundreds of applications for each position they start to recognize names that they've seen tons of times before and then just automatically throw them out, basically saying that they remember declining that one in the past, regardless of why, so don't give it another look. I tried to only apply to 2-4 positions within a month for each hospital, so picked ones that I figured I had the best chance at or listed multiple openings.
-Once you apply, be aggressive. Every position I applied for, I found a way to find the name of the nurse manager of the department and contacted them. You can look online or call information desk and connect to the nurse station and ask. Then you can get first and last name, phone number, sometimes email if you are good. Then call and/or email the nurse manager to tell them you just applied and are extremely interested in the position and why (briefly), or even just ask if they hire new grads. If they like what they hear, they can pull your app from the recruiter. Granted, not every manager may like applicants personally reaching out, but it's one way to make yourself stand out and to take control of the situation.
-Lastly, try to find any possible connection to available jobs. Look for jobs at the hospitals/units you did clinicalsâ€¦ then you can reach out to them raving about how much you loved your experience there and really want to work there. Managers would love knowing that if they hire you, you really want to be there and won't be looking to jump ship at the next available option!
Hope this helps. I did each of these, as did almost every classmate that landed a jobâ€¦ the ones who have just been blinding applying are still searching. Good luck!!