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You’re looking for a new nursing job, and your plan probably goes something like this:

  1. Put together your resume
  2. Check out the job postings online
  3. Start sending in applications

Unfortunately, what’s missing from this plan is the one thing that’s most likely to help you get hired – a referral.

While many people do get hired through postings on job sites, studies show that you’re three to four times more likely to land a job through a referral. In addition, those with a referral are hired faster than those who apply through a career site.

After all, a referral is something like a pre-screening – it implies that you have been approved by somebody who knows the job, the facility and the culture.

Referrals can come in various shapes and sizes, from a formal employee referral program, to the simple permission to use someone’s name as a point of reference. The key to any kind of referral is good, old-fashioned networking.

Whether you are applying for your first job in nursing, or you want to change specialties or advance your career, it’s important to put effort into cultivating relationships. It’s not as tricky as it seems. Here are three tips, from Amy Hayes, career services advisor at Chamberlain College of Nursing:

  • Join the local chapter of a professional association or specialty organization, such as the American Nurses Association or Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). “These organizations provide a great opportunity for networking with established professionals and acquiring contacts,” said Hayes. You can attend meetings or even serve on the board. Either way, you’ll have the opportunity to rub elbows with decision-makers in your field.These organizations are also a good source for unadvertised jobs, giving you the inside track to an interview. One potential drawback: professional organizations often charge a membership fee. Many associations offer payment plans, but if the cost of membership is still too high for you at this time, you can always follow the association on LinkedIn for free.
  • Network with your fellow Chamberlain graduates. There are more than 18,000 Chamberlain alumni out there. Chances are, some of them might be in your city, your specialty or even the facility where you’d like to work. You can use LinkedIn to connect with your fellow alumni – do an advanced search, and enter ‘Chamberlain College of Nursing’ in the field for school.Even easier, you can join the Chamberlain Alumni Association, which is available at no cost to all Chamberlain grads. A number of Chamberlain Alumni Association chapters offer in-person networking events that are open to campus and online graduates.
  • Get active on social media. LinkedIn is a good choice for professional activities, but opportunities to network on social media are all around us. Chamberlain’s Facebook and Twitter pages have nursing professionals from around the world you can connect with. Many organizations, such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and American Nurses Association, are also active on social media. One word of caution – be sure to review and understand privacy policies.Keep your strengths visible– including extracurricular activities, educational background and passions – but hide anything that’s not professional. Unprofessional photos, tweets or comments are big offenders and ultimately can cost you a connection. (Hint: Google yourself to ensure anything you want to remain private is hidden and everything you want to highlight can be viewed.). Whichever way you go, Hayes said, “Make comments, share articles – just be sure to give as well as take.”

 

Above all, give it time, and keep on building relationships, even when you are in school or at a job that you love.

For additional help, students and alumni can contact Chamberlain’s Career Services department at help.chamberlain.edu or 888.556.8226 (prompts 3-1-2).

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