In order to get a job in today's economy, you need to network. Trust me - even when I graduated in 2012 and applied to literally 140 positions that asked for entry level or 0-1 years of experience as a nurse... I got nothing. It was only after a friend referred me to a job that I got an interview and proved my worth from there.
So how can you get a foot in the door? Try the following:
1. Stay in touch with former classmates. They may have their own connections and referral sources. If they get a job and seem to like it, ask them if their workplace has any openings and if they could get your resume in front of the nurse manager or HR. Sometimes, that's all it takes!
2. Try to visit the office hours or become close with a faculty member. Instructors who lecture you all the time or who have become mentors in a clinical placement setting are ideal for hooking you up. If you feel a connection, ask for their email to stay in touch or straight-up ask if they would write you a reference letter. If they're affiliated with a hospital, shoot them your resume and see if they would put in a good word for you.
3. Be helpful to the nurse whose patients you're caring for on the floor during clinicals. If you feel a connection, ask for their email or phone number to hit them up with first-job questions. Then, if you don't find that first job (gulp!), shoot them a message and ask if they know of any openings.
4. Search your family members or friends' parents for anyone in healthcare. Maybe your mom's best friend works as a physical therapist. Perhaps your neighbor is an EMT. It could be that an old coworker of yours went back to school and is now an ultrasound technician. Explore your social circle and ask a few people. As long as you're a timely and responsible person, most of your friends should be glad to help - after all, most jobs give referral bonuses if a new hire works out.
5. Volunteer at a hospital or nursing home and get some references there. Volunteer work can be tough to come by in the health care field because many people volunteer their time in these areas. Get your application in early so that you can gain experience in a hospital setting, make friends with nurses and other higher ups, and learn about positions opening on the floor where you're stationed or somewhere else in the facility.
6. Go for new grad jobs that want ANYONE. Some fields will take a warm body, anyone at all, or even prefer new grads. For instance, many specialists who run their own private offices prefer a nurse who they can train in their chosen field from scratch. Sleepaway camp programs will take any nurse who is willing to spend 2 to 3 months of the summer on site. Psychiatric nursing is very easy to get into even when you have no experience- especially if you're willing to work nights. Try to find these job applications and follow up on them enthusiastically! It will pay off.
What was your first nursing job? How did you land it? Let us know.