We have all heard the adage about networking, to "tell everyone you know", as it applies to your job search. This is especially true of new nursing grads. However, this does not mean that you simply shout your desires from the nearest rooftop. There is still a need to be savvy about it, to be strategic, in order to be successful. Don’t write "Need a job. Please help.” in LinkedIN or Twitter or a discussion board. Worse yet, complaining in a public forum about how unfair it is to have gone to school only to find it so hard to land that first LPN or RN post. While you probably have not gone to that extreme, you do want to ensure that your goals are clearly and simply articulated to selected contacts. Here’s how:
- Ask each person for ONE thing at a time. With each person in your network, identify one critical task they can help you to accomplish. This approach keeps things straight-forward yet realistic. For example, ask one person to help you secure a 15-20 minute informational interview with the appropriate Nursing Supervisor at a hospital, clinic, residential care facility or community health agency of interest to you. Ask someone to put in a good word for you about one current or future position/specialty area that would be an especially good fit. Ask another person about the hiring process and the culture at their facility. Ask yet another to pass on the name and phone numbers of recruiters they’ve worked with in the past.
- Be part of the planning. When people are going to speak on your behalf, be part of the pre-dialogue planning. Agree on a handful of descriptive words that will most closely align your talents and personality with one position of interest - and if at all possible, tell them one thing about you that will set you apart from other nursing candidates. Don't let them "oversell" you. They should say concrete, positive things about you, clear the way for an actionable "next step", and stop. Practice with your contacts about how to move things from one clear action step to the next. For example, have them obtain the Nursing Supervisor's or Recruiter's business card with specific permission for you to contact them directly. Or, have them ask the person about what they especially want to see in their next hire.
- Find one new ally to talk to each day. Outreach. Stretch yourself. Get outside your normal circles. Meet new allies; you need help, but not by just anyone. Find and strike up professional conversations with other nurses, nursing supervisors, healthcare recruiters, etc. Locate second - and third-tier contacts such as medical device vendors, records specialists, safety consultants and others. Think about the kind of people you need to meet and why - then formulate a game plan to connect.
- Listen first and offer to help. Get to know Nursing Supervisors and Charge Nurses. Seek to understand what is important to them. Listen carefully to understand what they need and how you can help. Such efforts are cumulative; keep the dialogue moving, be genuine, stay in touch about other possibilities. Show enthusiasm and patience. Leave any sense of entitlement or high selectivity at the door.
- Put yourself out there in terms of networking and self-promotion. Portray yourself in a positive and energized way. Carefully construct the professional nursing image you are presenting to the world. Get feedback about how your presentation is coming through your conversations, your networking opportunities, and your resume.
What about your networking experiences as a new nursing grad? What other tips have you heard and/or tried? Anything you’d advise against? Please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts!