Did you know that almost 70 percent of all job openings are not openly advertised? Most positions are filled through word of mouth, and the individuals who know how to effectively network are often hired into these roles. Networking is the practice of cultivating and maintaining connections with a circle of people who can render assistance, boost your professional prospects, share their valuable knowledge and ‘put in a good word’ for you.
When hunting for a nursing job in today’s ultra-competitive employment market, networking is an essential strategy that results in the desired outcome if utilized properly. In fact, the lion’s share of positions are never brought to light on traditional avenues such as career websites or the employment ad section of the newspaper. According to the Peace Corps (n.d.), nearly 70 percent of all jobs are unpublished and are found through networking and personal referrals. Even if a job is openly posted and advertised, if you have networked to the fullest extent, an associate on the inside of the company can mention your name to the human resources director or unit manager to increase your chances of receiving a call for an interview.
Good job vacancies are often uncovered by word of mouth, so the prudent job seeker needs to form a network of resourceful people. Networking is the skill of forming and maintaining personal and professional connections with a range of people who can offer their assistance, enhance your occupational prospects and share what they know. Even though networking comes easily to some individuals, the whole idea of cultivating current relationships and forming new ones seems like an uphill battle for others. Your personal views on networking are cultivated to a certain point by elements such as your degree of extroversion or introversion, upbringing, and interpersonal skills.
Some of us are introverted, and therefore, become mentally depleted when fostering new relationships or maintaining the ones we already have. Also, many of us never learned the art of effectively networking with people and/or did not see it taking place while growing up. In addition, a few of us were explicitly taught to avoid networking with people for the purpose of finding work. For instance, when my father would get laid off, he never told any friends or relatives that he was unemployed because it was “none of their business.” He took his chances with newspaper employment ads and career websites; conversely, this tactic resulted in painful months or years of joblessness before a job prospect would become a reality. On the other hand, family members and friends could have given him leads on jobs if he had not been so intent on keeping his personal situation a secret.
To get started with networking, you must first build a consistent network of people. The people in your network can include just about anyone, including former instructors, schoolmates, neighbors, coworkers, friends, relatives, former supervisors, and acquaintances. Once you connect with people with whom you are not extremely close, you should aspire to maintain the connection by keeping in touch through occasional phone calls and/or meetings for coffee or lunch several times per year. The point is to establish a relationship of mutual trust and positive esteem before gathering the information you need. Moreover, never ask for information on job openings if you are meeting the person for the first time. You need to build the relationship over a period of time before asking for favors from anyone.
Most importantly, start amassing a network of people well before you need it. The time to start crafting your network is during nursing school. If you are a seasoned nurse with many years of experience, it is still not too late to form a personal network of individuals with whom you can exchange valuable information. Finally, always be cognizant that networking should be a two-way street in which mutual respect rules the road. Good luck!
Peace Corps. (n.d.). The Art of Networking. Retrieved April 17, 2014, from http://www.peacecorps.gov/resources/…/carevents/37/