Tactics for finding unadvertised jobs

Most physicians today identify positions based on ads, fliers and online postings. What's the plan when the city you want seems to have no job possibilities?

By Therese Karsten | Job Doctor | Summer 2012

 

The internet has transformed physician job search. We rarely talk about the “old school” tactics used by the pre-internet generations because so many physicians find jobs just by clicking a response link.

But if you aren’t finding advertised opportunities where you want to live, it’s time to dig deeper in the toolkit.

Message, message, message

Tell everyone in your environment where you want to practice and why you want to live there. You need a Tweet-length message that people hear several times in different contexts:

“Do you have any health care contacts in Denver? My husband has an opportunity to transfer there with his company and we have family and friends there.”

Program director, program coordinator, faculty and a few attendings should all know where you want to practice. Think outside the physician box, too. We learn about candidates through phone calls and emails from parents, in-laws, siblings, neighbors and former med school buddies.

The other residents and fellows should know where you want to go.

One resident found me because she posted notes on her program’s bulletin board saying, “I need Denver!” She changed it regularly, the next month titled “I MUST Get to Denver” and the following month, “Get Me To Denver Task Force Update.”

Fliers had photos of her and family skiing, hiking the Rockies, or attending a Broncos game. The best was a map of metro Denver with a red arrow pointing to “My in-laws live here,” and another red arrow to the other side of town—45 minutes away—labeled “I want to live HERE.”

It was funny, memorable, and it resulted in a resident forwarding an email that led to an interview that ultimately led to a job.

A surgery resident who was dead-set on getting to Kansas City used T-shirts to spread the word. He had a wardrobe of sports team T-shirts and never passed up an opportunity to talk about his sartorial homage to his dream location—his parents’ and siblings’ new home city. His program coordinator connected him with a recruiter who had a newly posted opportunity.

Refresh your message to your network by giving them updates on your search. An outrageous awful interview story, an anecdote about something cool that happened on your rotation in that city, or a thank you for a suggested contact will reinforce that connection of your name with that city in people’s minds.

Set up a rotation, or moonlight

Practices in the most competitive cities are very big on the idea of “try before you buy.”

A rotation often clinches a job offer even if the practice wasn’t actively recruiting. If you are a fit with their culture and practice philosophy, a smart practice will make it happen. You can also try out a facility by moonlighting there. (The extra money isn’t bad, either.)

A founding partner who hadn’t set a retirement date may realize that two years from now is the perfect time to transition. Or maybe the new satellite office the hospital is asking the group to open becomes viable if they add one more physician.

Active, not passive internet search

Some physicians won’t post their CV or profile on internet job search sites or their specialty organization career tab because they don’t want to be contacted about locations other than the target city.

That’s short-sighted. If you’re looking for a job in a highly competitive market, the value of having a lot of oars in the water outweighs the annoyance of spam.

Manage response volume with an email account exclusively for job search. Every few days, log in and put the target city name in the “search” field. Set the field to find matches in the entire email, not just the subject line. Recruiters sometimes put the state or suburb name in the subject line, then describe the location as “20 minutes from downtown ______” in the body of the ad. Drag the search results to another folder for follow-up. “Select All,” “delete” the rest.

Some internet sites push new or newly updated profiles out to employers. Your name, desired practice location and summary might land in recruiters’ inboxes even before we post ads for a new search. The “push” alerts also connect you to recruiters working on highly confidential, off-the-grid searches.

Refresh your online CV or profile every couple of months. When you click “update,” your profile could go out to every employer with an open search in the specialty and region. The update may spark a call about a position that has re-opened or expanded parameters since your initial posting.

Opt-in to the “alert” or “notification” feature that emails you when sites post a new or updated job matching your criteria. It’s good to be an early respondent for jobs in competitive locations. The likelihood of an interview invitation is much higher if you respond while the search is still fresh.

Follow-up a week or so after you’ve submitted your CV. Check in a few weeks later with that recruiter to remind her that you are still trying to get to that community. Follow-up is not pestering—it’s our job to communicate with candidates. A physician who is committed to the location is more likely to accept if offered, and stay long-term if hired. That’s a win for us, and a win for you.

Network through alumni programs

One of the most effective networking tools is the commonality of having been educated or trained at the same institution as someone else. You have a shared experience and have been shaped by the same culture and educational process.

Call the alumni coordinator for your college, med school and training institutions and ask if you can be connected with fellow alumni in health care who live in the state and city where you want to practice. You may strike gold and find a university alumni club chapter in the target city.

Some alumni coordinators will build a query, search their database and share the Excel spreadsheet once you’ve given the secret alma mater handshake and showed them what you’re going to send out. Others will send an email to physicians on your behalf. Alumni staff can walk you through tips for mining the alumni website yourself.

Many universities have a filter that allows you to inform an alumnus that you would like to connect—but blinds their personal data in case they don’t want to communicate. Why? Universities that help alumni network benefit because graduates who feel connected to their alma mater donate and help future graduates.

If all you have is a name, search on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or search engines. Be expansive and don’t limit just to alumni in your own specialty or recent grads. All it takes is one or two contacts to make the effort worthwhile. In addition to possible job contacts, physicians where you hope to practice will help develop your understanding of what’s going on in the local medical community. They might even share rumors of group mergers and acquisitions or gossip and history behind a practice implosion that no employee of the hospital system or practice would dare relate to a candidate.

Six degrees of separation

You may not get to Kevin Bacon, but the one-off connections may get your CV forwarded into the hands of someone who has a job for you.

Contact in-house recruiters who have jobs posted in other specialties in the right location. Call hospitals in the suburb where you want to live and work, saying “This is Dr. Smith, and I’m looking to relocate to the south side of your metro area and find a hospital-employed or private practice opportunity in my specialty. Who do I need to talk to in your facility?”

You can also ask hospital recruiters if they know of any needs at any other groups in the area.

Use search engines to identify private practices in the zip codes that you want. Email or fax in your CV with a cover letter. State what you are looking for, when and why you plan to live in that community. The recipient of your CV usually does not have a job for you—but he or she knows someone who does.

Perseverance pays off

Start your search for the unadvertised job early, and expect to spend more time on the search than peers who are kicking tires in multiple states. It’s worth the effort, though. Physicians who truly love where they live tend to have more stable career paths and seem happier than those who just “ended up” somewhere! l

Therese Karsten, MBA, CMSR (therese.karsten@hcahealthcare.com) has been recruiting physicians into hospitals, managed care and private practice groups for more than two decades. She is a senior in-house recruiter with HCA.

 

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8 quick tips for landing the job you want

Throughout your search, remember that email is forever, politeness counts, and a thank you is always appreciated!

By Sharee K. Selah | Job Doctor

 

A quick review of the following career search tips can help you land that perfect practice opportunity. As a rule of thumb, mind your manners, pay attention to your communications, and do not forget that you are always being evaluated.

1. Be careful with the “send” button.
E-mail is forever. Research supports that 76 percent of physician hires originate with email. Your candidacy starts with the first email you send.

2. Be polite, be prudent.
The old saying “you only have one opportunity to make a first impression” has an added nuance. That first impression can be permanently documented in recruiting databases and later read by recruiters, hospital departments or medical groups on staff. more »

 

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How to avoid a relocation nightmare

Seems like everyone has a horror story about moving. Make yours a happier tale.

By Therese Karsten, MBA, CMSR | Job Doctor

 

Relocation is like childbirth: a) it’s painful, and b) total strangers feel compelled to regale you with their own irrelevant, traumatic and scary stories to make sure you approach the experience with an appropriate level of abject terror.

Sometimes, though, tips from the collective experience of those who’ve run the gauntlet before you can save you time and money. Here are a few thoughts for physicians from my “lessons learned” across hospital, corporate and private practice recruiting environments.

Get a copy of the employer’s relocation policy early in negotiations
Many employers provide an allowance on a “use it or lose it” basis with a deadline for getting your expense report completed. They pay a mover directly (or reimburse you based on receipts) and reimburse you for specific expenses associated with getting you and your belongings from point A to point B. The IRS rules drive most relocation policies.

If you could deduct the expense on your personal income taxes, it’s likely to count as an allowable expense under a physician recruitment relocation allowance. Discuss options with the hospital or group if you think your expenses will be unusually low. During the negotiation phase, they may be open to shifting funds earmarked for relocation toward education loan repayment or sign-on bonus.

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How to Negotiate like a 5 Year Old

Little kids usually have no problems getting what they need. You can too, with these tips for successful employment negotiations.

By Anne Fowler | Fall 2011 | Job Doctor

 

Have you ever noticed how effortless it is for children to negotiate for their wants and needs? It is as if they come into this world with a magic gift of knowing how to get what they want—and better yet, nibble for even more.

As a mother of three small children, I watch in awe as my kids masterfully maneuver these situations and take note of their skills in an effort to learn from them. So I ask myself—why is it that, as we get older, we lose that comfort level with being direct about our needs and wants and negotiating for the same?

As a physician recruiter with more than 15 years of experience negotiating physician employment agreements, there is a palpable change in a candidate’s voice, behavior and even body language when we move from the pleasantries of exploring a particular opportunity to the negotiation phase of the recruitment process.

Why is this? I believe it has much to do with a candidate’s worry about crossing some invisible boundary in the discussion, appearing too greedy, or having a general discomfort with advocating for their needs. Since the fall is the time of year when many senior residents begin to consider job opportunities, it is an optimal time to put forth some tips on negotiating with an employer.

Come prepared for the discussion.

This is fairly obvious, as you cannot expect modifications from an employer if you don’t know what is already in the agreement. You must review the document and become familiar with the obligations of both parties. Employers and their representatives will be well-versed in the language of the employment agreement, and you don’t want to be left behind as they move from paragraph to paragraph. That said, if there is something that requires clarity, be sure to speak up and ask for an explanation in layman terms.


• Enlist an attorney to review the agreement.

As it may be your first time reviewing an employment agreement, I encourage you to select an attorney who is both in the region where you plan to practice and is well-versed in physician agreements. You will be bound by the provisions of the agreement, so it is important that the document be one you can live with for the duration of the term of employment.

• The figures related to compensation may be negotiable, but more often than not, the methodology for payment is non-negotiable.

Compensation structures have simplified over the years, but there can often be multiple components that make up a total compensation plan, including salary, incentives, bonuses for quality and good citizenship, partnership, etc. Employers devote extensive time and resources to developing the best model for a practice and are typically not inclined to make radical modifications related to their methodology. As a general observation, employers tend to be more inclined within reason to readjust dollar amounts for base salaries, sign-on bonuses or retention bonuses before ever delving into changes in the compensation plan.

• It is perfectly acceptable to request data related to historical incentive/bonus payments.

If the employer is offering an incentive or bonus component, you should feel comfortable requesting not only the specific formula used for calculation, but also historical data related to how much has been paid on average to individuals in the group over a period of time (such as the past three or six months). The employer can do this while still protecting the identities of the individual physicians. If an employer is reluctant to do so, you should consider this a red flag.

• Benefit programs offered by employers are usually standard and universal for the group.

Health, dental, vision and retirement plans are typically non-negotiable. CME allowances and paid time off may be more negotiable, but many employers are reluctant to do so in order to avoid inequities within the group. There is also a greater level of complexity for the employer to administer a plan that differs among group members. more »

 

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Make a conference connection

Your next CME conference could lead to your next opportunity

By Margaret Lokey | Job Doctor | Summer 2011

 

How many times have you seen an ad or direct mail piece for a physician conference at some far-off location and thought, “That would be a nice getaway.” Or maybe you’ve seen conferences as an opportunity to obtain CME credits, increase your knowledge base and network with colleagues. But have you ever thought of a national conference as a possible gateway to a new life and new opportunities? You should, because many of your fellow physicians have already made this discovery.

If you are a physician looking for a change, attend conferences prepared to know what information to gather and which questions to ask as you make your way from booth to booth.

Depending on the conference you attend, you’ll most likely meet individuals representing large hospital companies, individual facilities, online career services, recruitment firms, and/or locum tenens organizations. Each of these groups can offer information and assistance in your search for an ideal job.

Savvy exhibitors with current openings will not only have general information about their organization and what they can provide, but also specific information about available positions.

National conferences are large and tend to be fast-paced and busy, so be prepared to collect information relevant to your needs and expectations. By collecting information from the booths, you have the option to either return to your hotel room to absorb the content when you have more time or to review it once you have returned home.

Prepare a list of questions to ask representatives from each company. Asking a question not only allows you the opportunity to find a position that might be a perfect fit, but it also positions you as a more memorable candidate for the recruiter.

Though questions will differ from physician to physician, the advice remains the same: Make sure to have your questions written down, and don’t hesitate to take notes.

Your questions may range from work-related questions, such as “How many nights each month would I be expected to take call?” or “How fast do you think my practice will grow?” to questions regarding aspects outside the job, such as “What are the school systems like in the area?” or “What are some outside activities offered in and around the location?” The representatives at each booth are excited to talk with you and should have all this information and more to provide. more »

 

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How to make the most of your interview

Ask about referral patterns, technology and the group’s financial stability when interviewing for your first or next practice

By Lisa Vognild, FASPR | Job Doctor | Spring 2011

 

Taking time away from training or a busy practice to interview for a position takes a significant investment of your time. With travel, most interviews will require two or three days.

Being prepared with a list of questions to ask—both before you accept an interview and during the interview itself—will help you make the most of your time and leave the interview thoroughly informed.Quote

You will be asked by almost everyone that meets you, “Do you have any questions?” Having a list on paper will prevent you from having to come up with them on the spot. Also, it will show each interviewer that you are engaged in the process, are prepared, and have a genuine interest in the opportunity.

You will find that, after several interviews, the information from each place will start to run together. You will ask yourself, “Was that at that place or the other place?” So during your interview, jot down a few notes to refer back to later. More importantly, at the end of your visit, write a brief summary of the pros and cons and any uncertainties you have. more »

 

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Congratulations on your offer. What will you do next?

What we wish physicians would ask us when the offer is on the table.

By By Marci S. Jackson | Job Doctor | Winter 2011

 

Every physician, whether seeking their first job out of residency or fellowship, or seeking a new opportunity after having been in practice, needs to negotiate the terms of their new position—either employed or as a member of a practice.

A minimum of two parties are required for a negotiation, and that means two viewpoints will be represented, and two sets of requirements need to be fulfilled.

As in-house recruitment professionals, our job is to help our physician candidates be clearly informed about the organization, opportunity and community when they interview with us, and fully understand all of the information and options being presented to them by the prospective practice/employer, who we represent.

Today we will assume that you, the candidate, have already done preliminary homework, and have selected several opportunities for site visits.

Important questions to ask

Once serious discussion has begun regarding an opportunity and you are considering an offer, you need to make sure you understand the following for each opportunity, in order to appropriately negotiate the points that are important to you:

  • What is the timeline for post-visit contact and/or an offer?
  • What is covered/included in an offer?
  • What are the timelines for responding with questions or acceptance?
  • Once I’ve accepted the offer, what are the next steps?
  • Does the organization have additional interviews to conduct?
  • Have you given the organization your timeline for making a decision?
  • Do you need to provide the organization with any additional information so they can make a decision?
  • Do you need more information from the group in order to be able to make an informed decision?

Understanding the offer

Next, understand what may be included in an offer. Depending on the type of group you are joining, an offer outlines the following:

  • Compensation model and first year salary/draw amount
  • Benefits
  • Initial contract term (One year, two years or more? Renewable, limited or self-renewing?)
  • Any practice restrictions or restrictive covenants
  • Incentives
  • Expectations
  • Work schedule
  • Productivity, such as patient/procedure volumes
  • Call schedule
  • Outreach
  • Administrative duties
  • Teaching responsibilities
  • Research responsibilities
  • Professional liability (malpractice) insurance, including tail coverage
  • Termination of agreement (with and without cause)
  • Proprietary information
  • Items unique to the organization’s culture and hierarchy

     

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