There’s a traditional saying that if you want to do well in your career, it’s not what you know that matters, but who you know.
There may still be some truth in that.
Clearly, having the right qualifications and experience counts for a great deal when you decide to pursue a career in nursing. No recruiter is going to give you any sort of attention without proof that you have the fundamental skills and knowledge modern nursing professionals need.
However, to land your ideal job within this profession, it is also helpful to make the right contacts, and know where to look for the best nursing jobs.
By being organized, strategic and focused with your job applications, and using networking and the best job search opportunities, you increase your chances of getting a great nursing post quickly and in a stress-free way too.
Understanding how to network and search for nursing vacancies can also mean you get a valuable ‘heads up’ on openings as soon as they go live. This gives you plenty of time to prepare your application so you won’t miss any important deadlines.
Also, investing your time in networking and thorough job searches could provide an even more valuable benefit. By creating good connections in health and social care in your area, you could potentially be ‘headhunted’. This is when you are approached individually, by an employer of interest.
When you are headhunted, it’s highly likely that you will still need to go through the normal application and interview process for the post. However, being invited to apply puts you in an excellent position for success and demonstrates that this employer is already interested in what you offer.
Being headhunted in this way saves you a lot of time and effort, as you don’t need to spend as much time tracking down the best jobs in your nursing field. It’s not the only reason to network in health and social care in your chosen career location though.
Basically, the more you network and research nursing jobs online and in person, the better your insights and understanding will be. You can start to map out any recruitment trends and peaks in your chosen field. It will also give you a great overall impression of any universal traits that potential employers look for in your nursing niche.
At the very least, networking in health and social care — and being thorough in your job searches — gives you a better chance of finding a perfect match for your career ambitions and preferences.
Qualifications matter most
Of course, no amount of networking or vacancy research can replace having the relevant qualifications for a career in nursing.
The good news, though, is that training in the nursing profession can now be a much speedier and more streamlined process than in the past.
Fast nursing programs, such as the online accelerated option offered by Elmhurst University, are excellent if you want to launch a new or second career in healthcare. This type of training can help you fulfill your job aims and dreams, but also prepares you for an in-demand profession. There is a growing need for qualified nurses in the US, and programs like this give people of all ages their chance to be part of the solution.
What is your ideal nursing role?
The basic starting point of networking and job searching for nursing careers is to establish a clear idea of what sort of role you want, in what sort of healthcare setting.
For example, do you see yourself working as a home help nurse for an agency that specializes in this field, or as a geriatrics nurse in a residential facility for the elderly? Perhaps your ambition is to specialize in oncology, neonatal care or pediatrics, or find a role in trauma nursing.
This is a varied profession, with many vacancies across the country, so choosing a nursing career that suits your qualifications, personal attributes and long-term goals requires careful consideration.
You should also have a clear idea of how far you are willing to travel each workday before you start searching for a nursing job. It can be heartbreaking to find what looks like an ideal post, only to find that the healthcare organization is impractical to travel to for shift work without a lot of car driving and expense.
Another part of your job search preparation should be deciding what sort of benefits package you are looking for rather than just the salary you want. Insurance coverage, retirement support, paid breaks, education credits and free car parking and meals are good examples of the types of benefits that can contribute to the perfect nursing post.
Once you have a clear idea of the sort of job and employer you are looking for, you can make your job search and networking far more fruitful. You won’t waste your efforts considering hundreds of nursing vacancies that turn out to be a poor fit.
Also, with a clear idea of your ideal nursing job, you can start to create detailed profiles for recruiters that are relevant. For instance, would you be applying mainly to the personnel departments in big hospitals, or would your potential employer be a practice manager in a small clinical organization?
With this sort of information to hand, your networking activities can start.
Health and social care networking
With a sharper idea of who you are talking to, you can start your networking to build better connections and job prospects in your chosen niche.
This is sometimes referred to as building your sphere or circle of influence, and it involves both physical and virtual networking.
What is a circle or sphere of influence?
In workplace and job terms, this refers to the process of connecting with people, who can help you to alter and shape your career.
It is a concept that can be of interest to positive and proactive people, who want to job hunt successfully.
It generally means making contact with people who could potentially provide you with insights and introductions, or who could add to your knowledge and skills. For example, nursing career mentors, or people who are already doing their dream job, may be willing to share valuable insights and ideas with you.
It could also involve getting in touch with agencies, and people in healthcare recruitment roles, with a view to receiving early alerts for job openings in your chosen field and a better idea of what employers look for.
Lastly, don’t forget your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues when building your circle of influence. Sometimes, to get what you want, you need to be bold and enlist as many people as possible to help you to achieve your goals.
Let your circle of contacts — personal and professional — know that you are job hunting and share with them what sort of role you would love to apply for. You may be pleasantly surprised by how vigilant they become to nursing job vacancies, and it could be the person you least expect who spots your ideal career opening!
What is virtual networking? As so much of life now happens online, having a strong and compelling social media profile can be a good starting point.
This is not simply about you removing or hiding those embarrassing photos of you drunk during college spring break. It means connecting with people who could play a positive role in your career and showcasing your talents and qualifications clearly.
You may especially want to explore LinkedIn. This is a professional networking platform, which can be valuable for connecting with potential employers. It is also a good source of professional insights, and a way to communicate with existing and future colleagues.
To build your professional standing, posting articles and updates on LinkedIn can be a great way to demonstrate your dedication and knowledge to would-be employers.
Another virtual networking idea is to email anyone with influence in the health or social care field you are interested in. Ask them to share career insights and guidance that could be of value or consider requesting that they mentor you in fulfilling your career goals.
You lose nothing by asking!
There is still a lot to be gained from ‘getting your face known’ as well as networking online to build your nursing career. This can focus on both the location and the healthcare or social setting you are aiming for.
A good example of strategic networking for professional advancement would be attending events and presentations hosted by your preferred employer, especially recruitment initiatives of course.
At the very least, you can start putting names to faces and ask lots of relevant questions to increase your pool of relevant insights. There is always the possibility that you will meet someone who can guide you on your dream employer’s recruiting preferences and processes. Alternatively, you could find someone who knows what job openings are currently available or coming up soon.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility that you will also be remembered as a dedicated networker when you attend an interview for your dream job too.
Keep in mind also that volunteering in a healthcare organization prior to applying for job openings in nursing can be invaluable. You will already feel — and appear to be — part of the team. So, a recruiter may be far more inclined to offer you the position you want.
General online job search tips for nursing
Getting in contact with people who can influence your career in nursing by talking to potential employers and making yourself known in the right circles can involve a considerable investment of time and effort.
A far quicker way to track down attractive job openings in nursing is to work your way through the various job search options on a regular basis. For example, an employer may post current vacancies on their own organization’s website.
Checking vacancies methodically, on a regular basis, increases your chances of finding one that fits your ideal nursing position. Also, by staying alert, you can make sure you keep up with your applications and don’t miss any important deadlines or rush your submission.
Nursing job vacancies will have application deadlines, and getting yours in quickly may not win you any bonus points. Instead, spotting nursing jobs as soon as they go live will give you more time to prepare your application in a thorough manner.
This can include researching the potential employer, and the sort of professional and personal attributes that would impress them most. You can pick out the most relevant things from your resume and current experience to include in a cover letter too.
Some application forms also include a section for you to introduce yourself and emphasize important points. Taking the time to go over that is a great investment in making sure your application gets read thoroughly and goes to the top of the pile.
Nursing job boards
Other than using employers’ websites to find nursing jobs, where else can you go to see if there are any relevant openings for nurses that match your ideal location and niche?
Reference has already been made to LinkedIn as a way of raising your profile and connecting with recruiters and other contacts. This professional social media platform is also a popular way to recruit personnel online. It gives you the option to key in the specific type of nursing job that interests you, and the location, so the list of vacancies is relevant to you. There are also several national and state-specific websites that collate job vacancies according to profession that you can search.
Not all nursing agencies in the US are looking for temporary staff for health and social care settings. Though you may want to explore that career route as it offers flexibility to do part-time work or move around different employers if that suits your preferences and home life.
Some health and social care recruitment agencies are more concerned with helping major employers find appropriate candidates to fill their vacancies. Also, agencies work with organizations to streamline and speed up the recruitment of nurses and other professionals by screening out unsuitable applicants.
This means it is worth asking around and doing some online research to find the best healthcare recruitment agencies in your state or local area.
Jobs fairs and events
Some of the biggest employers in any sector regularly organize or take part in major recruitment events and conferences.
By hosting or supporting career fairs, employers can increase candidate understanding of the job opportunities they offer. For hard-to-recruit posts that need special skills, knowledge and experience, careers fairs and other recruitment events give employers a chance to demonstrate what they offer and sell their organization to potential applicants.
This is also a way for employers to find the most dedicated and enthusiastic candidates for various healthcare roles. If someone has made an effort to attend a recruitment drive or event and has made themselves known, they have already shown that they have done their research and made the effort.
Preparation for career fairs is vital. This is your chance to get up close to employers with current and future vacancies. Your prep should include dressing smartly, having physical copies of your resume ready and practicing a short presentation on what you offer to this potential employer.
You also need to be confident to chat with the recruiters, but also to ask lots of questions. That’s because if nothing else, you should come away with a lot more ideas for the best job search methods for nursing careers.
You can often find information on recruitment events by exploring the websites of some of the larger healthcare and social care providers in the US or use a search engine to look for ‘nursing recruitment events near me’ for example.
International nursing vacancies
One of the best things about a career in nursing is that the qualifications needed provide transferable skills. You can look for health and social care nursing posts in any state, but also in other countries.
You may have to validate or add to your qualifications in some countries, but the world is your oyster as there is high demand for nursing professionals in many international locations.
You simply need to research and connect to government immigration websites and major recruiters in your target country. Check any visa or qualification-validation processes carefully to make sure the cost or complexity is not too overwhelming.
You may find large-scale campaigns to recruit overseas nurses that offer you plenty of help in making the transition to a new country, including visas as part of employment packages.
There are virtual job fairs and nursing recruitment websites that specialize in matching employers to international candidates, such as Nursing Job Fair. Alternatively, you can try a specific career and country search on the world’s largest recruitment website, although Glassdoor is also handy for nursing job searches in the US and further afield.
Wherever your dream job in nursing is, good luck and happy searching!