How to Leverage Your Network in Your Job Search

Growing your network through career fairs, built-in contacts, online tools and engagement with recruiters will set you up for job-search success.


Dirk Foley, senior outreach coordinator with Provider Solutions & Development (PS&D), says that internal referrals play a big role in the hiring decisions within many organizations.

Networking done right can open the doors to previously unknown opportunities, giving you more choices when it’s time to sign on the dotted line. Don’t be intimidated by physician contracts.

“It’s all about making the right connections, asking the right questions and getting noticed for the right reasons,” Dirk says.

Timing is also key.

“The job search for residents begins much earlier than people might think. By the time they’re entering their third year, motivated residents are already scheduling interviews with potential employers.”

Dirk Foley, Senior Resident Advisor, PS&D

Growing your network early — through career fairs, online tools and engagement with recruiters — will set you up for success down the line. And don’t forget to make the most of relationships with your built-in networks, like program leadership, clinical faculty and preceptors. The impact they can have on your job-search success cannot be overstated.

Make the Most of Career Fairs

Career fairs, whether in-person or virtual, offer physicians an excellent opportunity to network and connect with potential employers through recruiters, administrators, medical directors and other physicians.

There are several things residents can do to make the most out of the career fairs.

4 Tips for a Successful Physician Career Fair

1. Know what you’re looking for.

As you prepare for a career fair, think about the kind of position you’d like, the work culture you’re seeking and where you’d like to live. Knowing these things beforehand allows you to focus your questions and consider which employers or organizations would be the right fit or match.

2. Talk to everyone and rule no one out.

It can be overwhelming to engage with each “booth,” but shaking hands (or chatting online) with everyone you will likely work to your advantage. That’s because recruiting networks are inter-connected. You might not want to work for an employer based in a given city or state, but talk to them anyway,” Dirk says.

“Learn about them and how they do things. They may not be your employer of choice, but they may know someone at the place you do want to work — and they may even make an introduction for you.”

3. Use your CV as a conversation starter.

Plan to have your CV handy at each career fair so you can use it as a springboard to begin a conversation. Want to build a stellar CV? Check out our resource, “The Anatomy of a Stellar CV.”

“Ask someone staffing a career fair table if they can review your CV and give you tips or feedback,” Dirk says. “For some, this may feel like a less awkward introduction, and it also allows for a potential employer to learn about you.”

4. Create your own “elevator pitch.”

The most successful companies know that a quick explanation of their offerings is an effective way to secure potential customers. Why not use this business-minded approach in your job search? Hone your elevator speech, in which you describe yourself and what you’re looking for. Take time to develop your pitch so that it’s compelling and leaves listeners wanting more information.

Engage Your Contacts

You may not realize it, but you have a built-in network of people who can be of help to you and your career. Clinical preceptors, for example, are great sounding boards. Talk to them about their career path, share your goals with them and ask for advice.

“I’ve heard many doctors-in-training talk about how their mentor encouraged them, guided them and connected them to others,” Dirk says.

Residency program alumni are a great resource as well. Program coordinators can often connect you to alumni practicing in your desired work location.

State and national organizations also offer great networking opportunities. Plan to attend conferences or meetings where you can interact with physicians already practicing in your specialty area.

Mind Your P’s and Q’s Online

Social media is a powerful networking and job-search tool, but before you put it to use on your behalf, make sure your online persona is professional and ready to be viewed.

“Residency coordinators, program directors and potential employers may search you out online,” Dirk says. “What’s out there about you reflects on you and can impact employment decisions in ways you might not expect. You can be yourself and still be mindful of what you share.”

Dirk offers the following tips for social media success:

  • Avoid posting inappropriate material, like profanity or offensive content.
  • Be mindful of the photos you share.
  • Make sure your online profiles are up-to-date.
  • Share things you are passionate about, but be cautious about using your social channels to offer political stances or opinions about potentially hot-button issues.

Use Your Online Network to Your Advantage

Once you feel confident in your online presence, you can begin using it to network and make connections. For example, if you are interested in a specific employer but don’t have any relationships there, search for a contact, reach out, or poll your online network for help.

“Ask your contacts if they know anyone in recruitment or anyone who is practicing at your dream employer,” Dirk says. “You never know who knows who and how people are linked.”

Consider Engaging a Recruiter

Recruiters can be especially helpful in your job search. And it’s up to you to decide how intentional you want to be in your recruiter outreach.

"Some recruiters are agency-based, and others work in-house for a particular employer, at PS&D the process is slightly different. We have the broad reach and network of the best agency and also take time to build meaningful relationships with providers by asking directed questions to help them better understand their wants and needs and effectively engage the job market. This improves our ability to more precisely pair their training and expertise with opportunities matching their career goals” says Dirk, who spent five years as a provider recruiter.

He continued, “If you’ve decided you want to work for a specific hospital for a specific reason, check to see if they have a jobs website or an in-house recruiter you can connect with directly.”

Regardless of how you engage with a recruiter, you’ll first want to be sure that you know what you are looking for in a position. It is important to consider whether location matters and determine the types of practice settings and schedule you’d prefer.

Be confident in what you’re looking for, try our self-guided Resident tool to help you map out your core values and better inform your ideal practice.

PS&D Can Help You Get Started

PS&D offers holistic career guidance for every stage of your career journey, from residency to retirement. We provide complimentary resources, one-on-one career navigation, toolkits, seminars and training.

Connect with one of our experts to start the conversation today.