Like any career, forging a way forward in the world of healthcare takes diligence, planning, and nurturing of your goals.

Whether seeking a career in nursing, physical therapy, medicine, or interventional radiology, many tools and strategies for creating a successful career are ubiquitous. For those interested in achieving their career objectives, the contents of your career-building toolbox should not be overlooked.

The Nuts and Bolts

For the healthcare professional, some essential building blocks are the resume or CV, cover letter, business card, and complete LinkedIn profile. There are others, but most everyone will agree that these are absolutely necessary.

Your Resume or CV:

Your resume or CV is essential — even in the 21st-century job marketplace. While some employers no longer require a resume, this document is something that every healthcare professional must have in their toolbox; it also must be regularly updated (at least annually) in order to prevent last-minute editing for a quick turnaround.

If an individual says, “I’m perfectly happy in my job and plan to stay here until I retire,” that’s a nice sentiment, but healthcare is volatile and even the most loyal employee can be suddenly laid off due to reorganization, corporate acquisitions, or mergers. Therefore, an updated resume is essential.

The Cover Letter:

Cover letters can be written on the fly, but having a skeleton letter on hand is helpful, as well as a thank you letter for after interviews. There are plenty of online templates, and for those who find writing such letters difficult, having a template makes the last-minute job easier.

Cover and thank you letters must be well-written, structurally and grammatically flawless, and make a strong case on your behalf. They should not simply regurgitate your resume’s contents; rather, they should call attention to the resume elements that are most salient.

Writing cover letters isn’t rocket science, but a career coach or expert can be employed to help craft the most compelling letter possible, and this also applies to resumes.

LinkedIn’s Robust Platform:

LinkedIn is an essential networking tool, as well as a useful online platform for showcasing your experience, background, and accomplishments.

Building a robust professional network is crucial, and LinkedIn is your playground for such an endeavor. Using this platform, you can connect with current and former colleagues, industry experts, thought leaders, and recruiters. You can also join groups that include other professionals with whom you have something in common (e.g., operating room nurses, healthcare executives, medical entrepreneurs; etc.)

While your LinkedIn profile indeed used to serve as a simple online resume, it’s now more like a resume on steroids since it can include colleagues’ endorsements of your self-selected skills; written recommendations; uploaded documents, including your resume and various certificates; videos of your presentations; slideshows; etc.

LinkedIn also allows you to post updates and curated content to your newsfeed (similar to Facebook), and you can use LinkedIn’s native publishing platform to write articles that demonstrate your expertise and leadership. If a potential employer or colleague Googles you (a common practice) and reads your original articles, this may be key to your being asked for an interview.

Recruiters also spend time on LinkedIn searching for potential job candidates. In fact, for some positions, your LinkedIn profile may serve as the only way by which you can apply, thus not having a complete profile takes you out of the running for those opportunities. LinkedIn also contains a feature by which a job-seeker can flag their profile so that recruiters know they’re in the market for a new position.

There are additional features of LinkedIn, but these are the essentials that easily make the case for logging on and creating a powerful profile that will work for you and your career.

Your Business Card:

The majority of healthcare professionals who are not self-employed business owners have likely never thought of having their own business card. However, a business card is a small and important investment that every professional should make.

If you’re in a restaurant or grocery store and happen to meet the CEO of a healthcare facility where you’ve always dreamed of working, you likely won’t have a copy of your resume in your purse or back pocket.

And if you find yourself at a medical conference meeting valuable colleagues, exchanging contact information is essential. While you can program one another’s details into your phones, one or both of you may not remember who this individual is or why you wanted to get in touch in the first place.

Enter the simple business card, which serves as a mini resume that can jog the memory of a new contact so that they remember you and why they want to follow up.

A business card is a simple affair without frills or logos and contains just the facts. The front of the card will contain:

  • Your name and credentials
  • Phone
  • Email
  • City and state
  • Customized LinkedIn profile URL

The back of the card will display five or six bullet points outlining the essential skills or professional characteristics that make you stand out. For example:

  • Successful nurse executive
  • 20+ years CEO of large health system
  • MSN in Healthcare Administration
  • Expertise in staffing and onboarding

Don’t Skimp on the Toolbox

Your healthcare career toolbox is your passport to more success, satisfaction, and connection. Use these tools and strategies to your advantage and enjoy the fruits of your labors that can powerfully influence how other professionals and colleagues perceive your value and expertise.