• Ask the Experts: How Do I Network After Being Laid Off in a New City? 

    Q: I was laid off eight months ago. I had just relocated to another state prior to losing my job, so now I have a bigger challenge because now I’ve lost my local connections and have been unable to build those in my new community. Would I be best served working with a recruitment firm? Any other suggestions for networking or job-hunting in this time of transition?

    A: Working with recruitment firms can be valuable, but will you be best served by going that route? That’s hard to determine, say our career experts. If your own personal network isn’t bearing fruit, turning to a recruitment firm has some merit, but it also has some caveats.

    “There are specific healthcare recruiting firms that could help you make a placement in healthcare,” says Todd Spohn, director of healthcare at Talent Plus, a global human resources consulting firm headquartered in Lincoln, Neb. “But, keep in mind that their reward is placing someone in the seat.” As a result, he says, your best interests might not always be the recruiter’s highest priority.

    Vikki NicometoBecause recruitment firms work for hiring companies and not for you, you need to keep your expectations of what they can do for you in check, says Vikki Nicometo, a life coach based in Kansas City, Mo. With that in mind, she says, it’s important to do your research if you decide to go the recruitment firm route. Nicometo suggests looking for firms with deep expertise in your field and asking colleagues for recommendations. She also encourages interviewing the recruiters “with your short list in hand.” You should feel comfortable with the recruiter, and ask for examples of the companies they work with, how long they’ve been in business, and how many placements they make a year.

    All of our career experts say no matter what you decide about recruitment firms, don’t stop your personal networking efforts. “Your instincts regarding the importance of networking are on target,” says Joseph Abel, HFMA’s career strategies director.

    Abel suggests working to build your job search network strategically in three levels. Tier 1 is made up of people who can, and will, serve as references for you. These are people such as former colleagues and industry contacts. Tiers 2 and 3 consist of people who work in the industry sector you want to work in and people who work in the organization(s) you want to work in, respectively.

    Initially, each of the tiers should include three to five people. The people in your second- and third-tier networks should be people who can connect you to decision makers, Abel says.

    How do you get people into your networking tiers? HFMA chapters and events are terrific resources for finding people for your second and third tier networks, Abel says. Todd SpohnBecause you are unemployed, you may be eligible for an HFMA unemployed dues waiver, which allows you to continue as a full, regular member, including chapter membership. Contact HFMA Member Services to apply.

    A must-have tool to incorporate into your networking strategy is LinkedIn, say our career experts. “LinkedIn is a powerful tool,” says Sherry Sims, founder and CEO of the Black Career Women’s Network. “It's a quick and free way to network online to get the word out that you are seeking a new opportunity.”

    To get the most out of your LinkedIn presence, make sure your profile information is up to date and your profile photo looks professional. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and take part in or start discussions. Being active in groups is a good way to get noticed and demonstrate your value.

    Sherry SimsReach out to everyone you know, especially in the healthcare industry, says Spohn, including those where you used to live. You may be surprised at the reach and depth of their networks. With the Internet and social media, geography is far less limiting than it used to be.

    Spohn also suggests using your newness in the community as an opportunity to expand your network. For example, getting involved in local events and organizations will help build relationships.

    Look for community job networking resources, Sims adds. Start by finding free networking events and training programs. The local newspaper is a good starting place, or visit online sites such as Meetup.com and EventBrite.com.

    Check out local not-for-profit agencies, such as the United Way and the Urban League, and state employment agencies. These groups often offer free job-readiness programs and career coaches who can help you refresh your resume or practice interviewing.

    Even though many hospitals and healthcare providers funnel job-seekers through online portals, don’t be afraid to “present” yourself to leaders of organizations, Abel says. He suggests sending a brief, handwritten note to those leaders, explaining that you’d like to meet with them to discuss career opportunities. Follow up with an email or phone call. Even if a meeting doesn’t materialize, you’ll have a new contact in your network.


    Have a burning career question you would like an answer to from our career experts? Email ltowers@hfma.org, and your question will be kept confidential and will be answered in an upcoming issue of the HERe e-newsletter.  




  • About HERe

    The HERe initiative is an effort that aims to inspire not only women but men invested in the professional development of women leaders in the health care field with the tools and resources they need to succeed. We hope to inspire one another, learn together, and connect with colleagues across the industry.

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