Organizations like the U.S. government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics frequently tout nursing as one of the most in-demand career fields, yet recent graduates aren’t necessarily finding this to be the case. Many of them struggle to find their first job despite earning good grades and passing licensing examinations. If nurses are so in demand, then why is it so hard to find a job?
The reason is that the majority of jobs require that applicants have on-the-job experience. When new nurses are still looking for that first job, the requirement for even one year of experience can seem like a hurdle. Moreover, the market is flooded with new nursing graduates who are all in the same situation. For every available position, there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. How can a prospective nurse make themselves stand out from the crowd?
Diligence, persistence, and creativity are required. That translates to becoming a networking all-star as well as learning to use social media to its utmost advantage. Getting proactive about finding a job may start with something as easy as having business cards created. Hundreds of nurses might show up at a conference or career fair, but it’s safe to say that only a very small percentage of them will have business cards to distribute. If you are the job candidate who has a professional-looking business card ready to be given to potential employers, then you’ve just set yourself apart from other applicants.
It’s just as important to try to get business cards or other contact information for established health care professionals. Make a point of contacting them periodically to check in on what’s new. You might ask them for guidance or advice or simply send a holiday card in December. Any of these tactics keeps you in the forefront of their mind, especially if you happen to mention that you’re still looking for your first job. Don’t feel too shy to ask for help. Most people remember how hard it is to get started in a new career and are happy to answer a few questions.
You can also get tons of benefits by joining at least one or two different nursing organizations like the American Nurses Association or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. These groups and others like them provide fantastic opportunities to meet other professionals in the same field. You’ll also be on the inside track when it comes to new job openings.
Social media can be a powerful tool for nurses who are looking for jobs. LinkedIn is an especially helpful website if you use it correctly. Create a profile that is up to date, accurate and filled with useful details about your education, experience, and aspirations. Make connections to other nurses and potential employers that may look for candidates using social media. Visit the LinkedIn profiles and other social media presence of employers before you send in a resume. You can gain valuable information about what the organization looks for in workers, and then make certain that you write your application submission to align with the goals of the organization.
You may also want to be open to finding employment in places other than hospitals. Although hospitals continue to be the main source of employment for nurses, there are many opportunities in places like long-term care facilities, nursing homes, clinics and rehab centers. These positions may not fit your definition of a perfect job, but they can offer you the foot in the door that you need. After a year or more of steady employment, you can start looking for the dream job you’ve been working toward.
If you’ve put all of these networking and social media tools to work and still haven’t found a job, then you may need to consider relocating. Some cities just have a higher demand for nurses than others, and this may make prospective employers more willing to hire someone with no or little experience.
Getting your first nursing job requires commitment and drive. Don’t give up on your dream, and make certain that you’re doing everything you can from a networking and social media standpoint to maximize your chances of finding a perfect position.