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To all the New Grads on the Job Hunt

Nurses   (2,681 Views 12 Comments)

NickiLaughs has 10 years experience as a ADN, BSN, RN and specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Critical Care.

34,312 Profile Views; 2,361 Posts

Alright, I feel really bad for this rough time so many nurses are having when only a couple years ago it seemed so much easier to obtain a job, I'm sure most of this advice has been offered before, but I'm going to do my best to eloquently and simply explain how I got my job, as well as the advice of my grandparents (one spent 40 + years as an HR manager, the other spent 25+ years as a Customer Service and HR director).

1st things 1st:

Look at your resume, I know many of you have already looked at it several times, but does it include any medical background at all? Did you work at a nurse tech for a summer? a few months? Is your Clinical History on there? Any special projects that you participated in such as community outreach from a nursing student club or such?

These seem like "duh" things, but sometimes there may be some little thing you didn't think of that can "pump" up your resume and make a difference.

A cover letter: Once something that wasn't a necessity (I never had one when I worked as an LVN, but you can bet I had one for EVERY single RN job I applied for). The reason for a cover letter is to simply give an introduction of you, as well as an introduction of the facility. That you KNOW what the facility is about and took the time to investigate it. All it does is take 10 minutes of googling that hospital to find out their specialities, are they a big heart facility? Even if you don't want to be a cardiac nurse, sounds like for that hospital, you do, and make it sound like you do. Where I ended up getting a job, it was a big cardiac hospital, I expressed my interest in all things cardiac and my extensive training of anatomy.

Yes, I was lying (a little) I had no dreams for being a cardiac nurse, but it got me in the door and a paycheck, as well as training. I even actually surprised myself and like my job.

Professional References: There was a time when simply putting a couple people that you know at the bottom of a job application with a phone number was sufficient. NOT anymore! You need to have 2 professional letters of recommendation with you which includes LETTERHEAD at the top. If you are a new grad, it may be difficult, but if you've had a job, any job, I would use one of those for a professional letter, and then a professor that you got along with as the other recommendation. They may say they don't want it, but I have yet to have an HR office not tell me not include them. I ask if they would like them, they say "oh yes of course." This shows: Not everyone's doing them, but they like them!

Additional training:

I took my ACLS. Why? I had time to kill, I wasn't doing anything else, I had no job yet. I needed to renew BLS anyway, plus I knew most jobs would require me to have ACLS. It couldn't hurt. And a lot of people don't think about it. Who else takes ACLS? Nurses! Nurse Managers! (I actually met two, one was impressed by my positive attitude and willingness to be more than one persons partner since we were uneven, as well as my outgoing attitude, she gave me her card and said to call her if I didn't hear anything). Well, I had received a job before calling her. But MANY of these classes are offered all the time, and you never know who you many run into!

There's ACLS, PALS, NRP.

***On a side note*** Beware of potentially expensive training that is a scam and will not help you land a job! I had a classmate who was desperate for a job, and heard about a critical care training course, which they said prepares and allows you to take the CCRN. Well, luckily he talked to me prior, and I showed him the website that qualifies you to take CCRN. It requires a year of critical care experience to take the CCRN, and he would have spent 6000 dollars on a class that does nothing for him. It may have looked good for potential jobs, but 6000$ is a lot of money when you are already broke. Most facilities that will train you for critical care put you through their own program anyway.

The actual job hunt:

#1: Call the HR department, do not sound like a desperate new grad. Ask them a couple things: "Do they have applications online only or can you submit one in person?" "Would it be possible to send an additional copy of your resume to the HR?" However they prefer applicants is how you will fill it out! You do not want to tick off the HR department by applying for 8 different positions when only one is warranted! Some only want you to apply to one and they will see your qualifications and additionally forward the resume to other department hiring managers!

#2: Act polite on the phone, even if they are not!

The HR is the 1st step to the job! And they have bad days! I had a phone interview scheduled with an HR manager who would decide whether or not to forward my resume on to the actual Nurse Managers. Well, she never called, so I had her number and called and left a very polite message about an hour after my interview was scheduled. I also called the HR assistant, and said that a misunderstanding must have occurred and I would appreciate being rescheduled. Well turns ouf the HR assistant had been at a funeral and forgot to schedule it with the HR manager. Things happen, if you show you are flexible and polite, they are 100x more likely to bend over backwards to help you get a job.

#3: Think outside the box. If you have not found a job in 6 months this especially applies to you!

It's time to look at jobs that aren't in hospitals, not to say you shouldn't keep applying for coveted new grad positions and hospital jobs, but you do have school loans coming soon, and you need to eat. Many people worry that you will never get a hospital job if you work elsewhere. When the economy improves, and hospitals begin hiring again, many are willing to train you. In my ICU training group there were several nurses who had 10 plus years experience, just not in ICU, they got the same training as us!

Yellow pages (I know not exciting as google, but sometimes it works!)

Look under nursing, hospitals, urgent cares, medical, anything you can think of that has any medical relation. I got a job working at a group home once that way. It was actually a really nice job for an LVN working on her RN prereqs. And you didn't have to have experience.

Indeed.com I actually like this site better than most of them, they seem to have all the jobs posted from yahoo, careerbuilder and others on them.

I know nursing homes aren't the "dream job" but when I got my first hospital job they actually liked that, they know that nurses typically have 25+ patients there, which means they can multi-task like no one else! A rehab facility is a great place to start too, that's the go-between from a hospital to home.

#4 Always be ready. I received calls for interviews where they wanted to interview in an HOUR. I always had a portfolio of all my nursing accomplishments, unofficial transcripts, copies of my nursing licenses and ACLS/BLS. It's really nice when you can walk into that interview and hand them everything. They don't have to make copies, it's all right there! You look organized, professional, and well, just a better candidate than most! If you have a nice little neat folder with all of this in there in different clear sections, it's neat, you know your ready, and that's one less bit of anxiety.

Good luck to all of you! I hope this helps some of you, I know that this is the hardest time to have to job hunt.

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fiveofpeep has 2 years experience and specializes in critical care, PACU.

1,237 Posts; 17,773 Profile Views

I did all of the above except for ACLS and got a job in the first unit of my choice

The OP is very thoughtful to be sharing her methods :)

I will also add, that if you can, its very beneficial to have some willing instructors to do a mock interview with you. They came up with questions that ended up being asked of me and they also had good ideas about how to answer and how to behave during the interview that I didnt find during my extensive internet research hehe. Seek out the ones with management experience or experience in the specialty you are interested in. If you wow them enough, you might even win a letter of rec from it :)

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ktoepfer26 has 3 years experience and specializes in Psych/Forensic Psych.

12 Posts; 1,131 Profile Views

GREAT advice! Thank you. I passed my boards last week and I have been a madwoman emailing and faxing resumes since I got the good news. I worked in HR for a large investment firm before deciding I wanted to go to nursing school. All of your points are very true. Hopefully with all the work I am doing now will pay off very soon.

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48 Posts; 3,132 Profile Views

Thanks for the suggestions. I have a follow up question for anyone who can help. It has been 5 years since I graduated from nursing school. In that time, I haven't practiced nursing due to various reasons stemming from health problems to financial hardship (who hasn't suffered from this, right)? In any event, I am having a hard time finding employment in nursing. Would it be advised for me to take a refresher course? Keep in mind I passed the NCLEX and took a BLSC within the last two months. I ask because these courses are quite pricey and I don't want to waste my money if it doesn't help.

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143 Posts; 3,436 Profile Views

thank you for OP for your great advice! its been 7 months.. in california and it is ROUGH! my friend just landed her first job as a RN... oh my gooodnesss.... she said there were 1000 applicants. 200 interviewed. 60 call back for a 9 judge panel! there were 16 open spots and she got one of the 3 spots in the field she actually wanted. talk about tough!!!!!

i will follow your advice. thank you

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140 Posts; 4,306 Profile Views

question... so after calling the HR 1-2x to see if they reviewed your resume and they always give a typical answer.... then how do you follow up and show that you are persistent without being annoying?

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VICEDRN has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ER.

1,078 Posts; 14,154 Profile Views

1st things 1st:

Look at your resume, I know many of you have already looked at it several times, but does it include any medical background at all? Did you work at a nurse tech for a summer? a few months? Is your Clinical History on there? Any special projects that you participated in such as community outreach from a nursing student club or such?

These seem like "duh" things, but sometimes there may be some little thing you didn't think of that can "pump" up your resume and make a difference.

The HR recruiter from the large local hospital organization came to speak to my class. I have always put all of my clinical experience on my resume but she specifically told us how annoying that was and complained that she obviously knows what kind of experience we have in nursing school. (I don't agree with her but I took it off because of her advice.)

Also, I took the ACLS and I have had the opposite experience: People immediately figure out that I want critical care (ER) and become suspicious of why I would take it if I claim that I was just trying to improve my marketability. Those with their own training curriculum said that they don't care that I have ACLS, they would train me their way and would not give me patients on Tele until the rest of the class catches up if I were hired.

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The HR recruiter from the large local hospital organization came to speak to my class. I have always put all of my clinical experience on my resume but she specifically told us how annoying that was and complained that she obviously knows what kind of experience we have in nursing school. (I don't agree with her but I took it off because of her advice.)

very true, i learned to take it off too.. its just a waste of space and no one really looks at it. although, the question is, what have you done that made you stood out in that clinical area... we all gave injections...wound care.. so something something that makes you stand out

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NickiLaughs has 10 years experience as a ADN, BSN, RN and specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Critical Care.

2,361 Posts; 34,312 Profile Views

If you ever went to a community outreach such as taking vital signs/anything. It was volunteer, some of the things one may have done in nursing school were more "extra-cirricular." An extra summer internship, anything! That's the sort of thing I was talking about.

If you put your clinical history on your resume like this:

CLINICAL HISTORY:

XYZ Hospital, ER, ICU, Med-Surg

ABCD Hospital: OB, NICU, Post-Partum

I don't know, I did not get any negative feedback in regards to it.

I cant imagine having ACLS hurting you? The hospital I interviewed at liked that, regardless of the unit you were applying for? ACLS is required in all units of my hospital except Med-Surg I believe.

After the first couple times of contacting HR, I believe follow up calls every 3 to 4 weeks would be appropriate. I believe hiring process is taking longer these days. But if you maintain your interest they may eventually call you back.

To the one poster about a refresher course. Being out of school 5 years with no RN work? They are most likely going to require a refresher.

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VICEDRN has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ER.

1,078 Posts; 14,154 Profile Views

If you put your clinical history on your resume like this:

CLINICAL HISTORY:

XYZ Hospital, ER, ICU, Med-Surg

ABCD Hospital: OB, NICU, Post-Partum

I don't know, I did not get any negative feedback in regards to it.

I cant imagine having ACLS hurting you? The hospital I interviewed at liked that, regardless of the unit you were applying for? ACLS is required in all units of my hospital except Med-Surg I believe.

The part I bolded is exactly the problem. The hospitals around here are hiring on the med/surg floors only. They are giving new grads med/surg nights and weekend nights. Getting my ACLS apparently advertised that I was aiming for something else.

I did do my resume the way you did but like I said, the HR recruiter complained but I agree with you that not all clinical experiences are exactly the same.

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