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Networking Your Way to Your Next Job

March 28, 2010
by Tim Tolan
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The secret sauce to landing a new job is to use your own industry contacts

In today's economic environment you need more than a good strategy to find a new job as a healthcare CIO professional. You need the best plan possible. Depending on your current role, experience, education, earnings requirements and other factors, you could be waiting in the wings for a very long time if you find yourself between assignments.

The safest bet is to always have a job when you are looking for a new one. That goes without saying. It's always easier to explain your career progression to a potential employer anytime you can avoid gaps in your resume. You also become more valuable when you are a passive candidate and not “in the market” when a prospective employer or a search consultant calls you. However the best made plans don't always work out and you need to be ready if you plan to seek greener pastures or if you find yourself suddenly looking for a new job.

As a search consultant, I am continually amazed at the strategies some high-end healthcare technology professionals employ to look for their next role. I've seen it all. Some hire a resume service to “push resumes” to thousands of potential employers while others blindly post their resumes on job boards for the whole world to see - all at the click of a mouse. In a matter of seconds, years of hard work and solid reputations can change as you become another commodity in the candidate pool. Here's the really bad news. Depending on how your resume is published on the Internet, it could be there for a very long time. That is not what you want to avoid at all costs.

I'm equally amazed at how few professionals use their own industry contacts to network their way to their next job. That's the secret sauce. It's the most effective way to land a new job - and with much greater speed.

Here are a few tips to help you network your way to your next career move:

Always be networking. You should leverage your network on a regular basis. Stay in touch with your key contacts throughout the year - not just when you need their help. Make a tickler file to reach out to your network to say hello and touch base. Find out how they are doing and be a sounding board for them. They will remember you when you need their help.

Make an effort to add value to professionals in your network. Send them a note or a link to a story that they might be interested in reading. Reach out. Do them a favor - expect nothing in return. Always give more than you take and they will remember you for it. Trust me.

Contact people you know if you are attending an industry conference. Offer to meet for coffee or lunch and just “catch up.” Ask them to keep their eyes and ears open if you are considering a new role.

Reach out across the aisle to the executives you know and trust from your HCIT vendors. I'm sure you have built a good working partnership with them and perhaps made a friend or two in the vendor world. Keep in touch with them as well. Many former CIOs work for HCIT vendors today.

Build a list of the top 50 people you know that are in your network. Make it 75 or 100 if you can. It's really not that hard. This includes former colleagues, CEOs, CFOs or others you've worked for in the past. Build your list and then use it! Make a commitment to build and maintain a list of people you plan to contact at least once or twice a year. Make a tickler in Outlook or in some other calendar toolset to contact 1-2 people a week that may be able to help you one day. That's 100 people a year. It's not hard!

Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and make sure your account settings are set to receive InMails, career opportunities, getting back in touch and job inquiries. Recruiters look at profiles like yours every day. Make sure your profile is current and eventually they will call you. Make sure your profile tells your story and they will call.

While having a successful networking strategy requires a commitment on your part, it's not that hard to accomplish. Really.

Tim Tolan is senior partner at Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice. Tolan can be reached at, or at 843-579-3077, x 301. His blog can be found at /contributors/tim-tolan.

Healthcare Informatics 2010 April;27(4):46