Five Reasons Why New Nurses Can’t Find a Job

by Tera Tuten on November 4, 2014

soliant_hard_to_get_nursing_jobsLast year, 200 healthcare HR managers were surveyed about the nurses they aimed to hire.

24% of those surveyed complained that applicants “don’t have any relevant work experience.” Among managers currently hiring nurses, 41% said they were only interested in experienced nurses, not new grads.

What’s more, 22% said they were “only interested in applicants with specialized training.”

The experience and specialty problems seem to be just two of many hiring conundrums for new nurses. Here are some more (and what you can do about them):

Lack of networking

Don’t underestimate the importance of working and networking while still in nursing school.

Want to get ahead on this one? Get involved in student politics, get in with a great preceptor who will give you a terrific reference, or after the first semester, take a tech job that’ll give you experience (especially if you can manage to do it where your clinicals are held.)

The connections you make may provide the inside track you need to land a sweet position.

The market is oversaturated

Like it or not (and despite constant claims there’s a nursing shortage in America) it appears that the market is becoming oversaturated with nurses.

To meet the anticipated shortage that was expected as the baby boomers aged, nursing college enrolment has pretty much doubled in the last decade, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

At the same time, retirement-age nurses are working longer to make up for the financial hit caused by the last recession: When investments bottomed out, 401Ks lost money, and spouses lost jobs, which led to fewer positions are available for an ever-increasing pool of new grads.

Location, location, location

It’s often stated that by 2020, the US will reach a critical healthcare crisis with a shortage of one million nurses.

But even if that projection is accurate, it’s not going to happen equally through every state.

Some areas are going to be harder hit than others. And a nursing shortfall doesn’t automatically translate into new positions created.

Do your research – find out where there are openings available and look for work in bigger cities.

No specialty

It’s a reality: There are few generalists working in nursing today.

Most tend to certify in a specific area of specialization, and because new grads don’t have a specialty by the time they’re leaving nursing school, they have an additional challenge in the job market, especially if the hospital they’re applying to has limited openings for new grads.

Tackling the “lack of experience” paradox

Perhaps the most ironic roadblock to getting a job, new nursing grads are hearing all too often that they need at least a year of experience to be hired, but they can’t find the work that will give them that experience.

Clinical rotations alone won’t cut it. And many facilities are limited in the number of new grads they can hire each year.

This doesn’t mean you won’t find work – you just have to be prepared for competition (sometimes heavy) for openings in your area of choice and flexible about working in a unit that might not make your personal top ten list.

Doing so may be just what you need to get that first job, and with it, the experience you need to get a peak shift in the unit you want.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Tubbs 11.04.14 at 9:40 am

Networking is critical in any job search or career, same with nursing!

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Bif Washburn 11.11.14 at 9:23 am

I often run into new graduate nurses that want to do travel nursing assignments but don’t have the experience yet. If you are lacking the experience to get in the door as a travel nurse or staff nurse consider trying to pick up per diem shifts in a hospital based setting to get your foot in the door and establish experience.

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