OK new grads, fill out those online applications if you want and send in your resumes and cover letters to the human resource department of area hospitals if you must. But understand that this is the least effective way to land a job, especially in today’s tight job market. So what should you be doing? Read on.
Networking is well known to be the most effective way to find and get a job so here’s what you need to do:
Get yourself a conservative business suit – preferably skirted for a women and a traditional suit for a man. Looking top notch will make you feel more confident and make the best possible impression.
Have simple business cards made for yourself with your contact information on it. Carry them with you wherever you go.
Start attending local chapter meetings of professional associations such as the Association of Nurses Executives (AONE), your state chapter of the American Nurses Association, and any specialty association that interests you (e.g. Emergency Nurses Association). Here’s where you’ll meet the department managers that you’ve been trying to get to. You can attend as a guest if you don’t belong. When there’s something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing that thing.
And since face to face networking is so effective, you should also be attending nursing career fairs, conferences and conventions when you can. It’s important for you to stay visible and well connected.
When meeting new people, use a full firm handshake, make direct eye contact and smile!
Obtain business cards form those you meet and offer yours to them. Make follow-up phone calls when you get home and stay in touch with these folks. In other words, take the time to develop relationships. It’s all about relationship building. You may not want to do this but it is essential.
Do some informational interviewing (http://www.dcardillo.com/articles/thescoop.html) with nurses who work in specialties you might want to work in or that you want to learn more about.
Start volunteering somewhere healthcare-related to get a foot in the door. You’ll gain experience, make contacts, and have something to put on your resume. And volunteering often leads to paid employment.
Send thank you notes to anyone who helps you, refers you, interviews you, or spends time on the phone with you. Enclose your business card. Many people ask for help but few take time to say thank you.
Part 3 of this series will offer specific suggestions for specialties, types of employers/facilities, and other resources for finding nursing jobs.