Stop before you make one of these errors

A plethora of job-search tools and resources still hasn’t solved these common problems.

By Therese Karsten | Fall 2018 | Job Doctor

 

Worried job candidate waiting hiring decision

We were wrong.

Old guard recruiters and employers predicted that smartphone access to CV and cover letter samples, templates, how-to guides and FAQs would eliminate most of the common CV and cover letter problems. It didn’t occur to us that the older generation’s errors might be replaced by new challenges in the era of digital job search.

Learn what they are so you can avoid them.

Using a file sharing platform and embedding macros

Dropbox, ShareFile, Google Drive, Egnyte and other file-sharing platforms are wonderful for sharing documents and photos with friends and family. They are not optimal for sharing your CV and cover letter.

Recruiters and practices work behind formidable firewalls and may not be able to open the file. I recently asked our information protection and security guru why we are blocked from so many third-party sites. He explained that file-sharing platforms are hit-and-miss on safety standards for protected health information (PHI). These vendors do not intentionally put our information at risk, but sometimes speed and ease-of-use shortcuts provide opportunities for malware.

The fastest way to get your CV and cover letter in front of a decision maker is to stick to PDF or Microsoft Word attachments. To avoid landing in a spam filter, avoid macros and embedded objects. Our firewall is looking for anything similar to malware and will either divert your document to spam or disable the suspicious element.

Not proofreading after the red squiggly lines are gone

We see far fewer misspellings today because spelling and grammar checks catch most. The dangerous downside of these tools is the false sense of security they afford.

Candidates who skip having a spouse, friend or mentor proofread a CV and cover letter run a far greater risk of:

Date errors. Only another human will catch the typo on a year or omission of key dates, such as your anticipated completion of training.

Word choice errors. We see incorrect usage of ensure/insure, accept/except, adopt/adapt frequently because spell check doesn’t see these as wrong.

Subject/verb agreement errors. These are often editing errors. You changed the subject and did not change the verb that modifies it.

Pronoun and preposition errors. We see more dropped or incorrect use of preposition pronouns: “By the end fellowship, I will have performed 50 TAVR procedures.”

Fiancé/fiancée mistakes. A female betrothed is a fiancée; a male is a fiancé.

Not caring about format

A good CV template is designed by someone who’s an expert in the visual presentation of written information. If you just wing it with a bold here or a font change there, your CV looks amateurish and difficult to read next to your competitor’s.

Choose a template that has address, email and phone prominently positioned at the top. Include M.D. or D.O. behind your name to instantly distinguish yourself from other health care professionals.

Once you’re done, save the document with a title that includes your last name and the type of document (CV or cover letter), the month and year.

Trusting Siri, Cortana and Alexa

In the last couple of years, I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of candidates who dictate their cover letters as they respond to online ads from their phones.

This can be an efficient tool when used judiciously: “Here is my CV. My husband just accepted an engineering job in Colorado, and we plan to move to the area in August. I will send you my cover letter tonight.”

Sometimes, though, the dictating physician fails to notice silly autocorrects before hitting send. We get things like: “Please accept my CV for the minimally offensive surgery position,” or “I am interested in hospitalist opportunities with no more than 15 sh*ts per month.”

Copying and pasting poorly

Copy/paste is both the best friend and worst enemy of an online physician job seeker. As long as you customize your response with a few opening words specific to the employer or location, copy/paste allows you to get a lot of responses out very quickly.

The body of your cover letter also can be copied and pasted from one response to the next. It will tell employers when you are available and what you are seeking. All prospective employers want that kind of differentiating detail.

Copy/paste is your worst enemy in two circumstances:

It makes you too generic. If you don’t customize the cover letter to the location, we don’t know why you want to live and work in our community. A generic cover letter comes off as canned and leads the reader to assume you are taking a buckshot approach to your job search. If a glance in my shared database shows that you sent exactly the same cover letter to six of my colleagues in the last six months, then I’m not highly motivated to put you at the top of my to-do list for today. You simply don’t look like an intentional, serious candidate for my city and practice.

It’s wrong. You don’t want to copy/paste another employer’s cover message, complete with the wrong location and/or practice name. If your CV gets forwarded at all, it will probably go to the administrator or lead physician along with your botched cover letter to make sure your lack of detail is not overlooked.

Times have changed. But some old-fashioned proofreading and awareness of these issues can help you make a strong first impression to prospective employers!

Therese Karsten MBA, CMSR, FASPR is the director of physician recruitment for HCA Physician Services Group.

 

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How your partner can help

Your significant other’s research can help you make a smooth transition to a new opportunity.

By Jeff Hinds, MHA | Job Doctor | Summer 2018

 

Stack of hands. Unity and teamwork concept.

I’m both an adviser who has helped hundreds of physicians with their job searches and the spouse of a physician who has gone through the same process.

As such, I’ve seen firsthand how physicians struggle to manage all aspects of their search while simultaneously juggling the heavy demands of their current position or training program responsibilities.

Because of this, one of my biggest pieces of advice for physician job-seekers is to lean on all the resources available to help you maximize your efficiency and minimize your stress. One of those resources? Your spouse or significant other—someone who is equally invested in making sure this is a smooth and successful transition.

There are some key areas where your spouse can help ensure you are fully prepared for your job search.

Before you begin a search

At the onset of your search, you should be gathering and updating all of your application materials, such as your CV, cover letter, reference list, etc.

Don’t underestimate the importance of these materials. They not only help you get a foot in the door, but when all else is equal among candidates, it’s often the seemingly minor details that can make a difference in the end.

Pay attention to those details. Have your spouse proofread all your documents to ensure there are no formatting or grammatical errors. This is also the time to take a step back and, with your spouse, define your job-search parameters. Which geographic locations or regions are the best fits for your family? Your spouse can also help you reflect as you determine which practice types or settings are most conducive to both your personality and your career aspirations.

During your search

As you begin applying to opportunities and receiving invitations to interview, it’s time to conduct further research into each location to determine the potential fit for your family. Your spouse can help you with this research.

Similar to evaluating a practice to determine if it matches your clinical skillset, you’ll need to closely evaluate a community’s amenities, recreational opportunities, schools and other organizations to determine if it can support your family’s interests and aspirations.

Two great resources for learning more about a community include the local convention and visitors bureau and local realtors. Realtors “sell” the community for a living and will be able to highlight its major perks and opportunities.

After your search

Once you have selected a position and accepted an offer, there is much more research your spouse can do to ensure a smooth relocation process.

If you have children, you have likely already given some preliminary considerations to the educational opportunities that exist in the area. Now it’s time to explore further and begin making the decision on where to enroll. Does the area offer a great public school system? What private or parochial options should you consider?

It’s also time to start looking further into interviewing realtors and exploring housing options, selecting banks, exploring churches, and getting plugged into recreational options for your kids. All of this research takes time—and present great opportunities for your spouse to help.

Jeff Hinds, MHA, is president of Premier Physician Agency, LLC, a national consulting firm specializing in personalized physician job search and contract assistance.

 

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Navigating your job-search expense reports

Don’t let a seemingly routine exercise cost you a job offer.

By Therese Karsten | Job Doctor | Spring 2018

 

Close up pen on paperwork and woman hand calculate finance.

Expense report gaffes after an interview can cost you a job offer or damage your reputation in a new job before you even see your first patient. Employers know from history that the way a candidate handles the expense report process correlates closely with the physician’s administrative style. Bad behavior on an interview or relocation expense report is a pretty good clue about what’s to come regarding that physician’s scheduling, contracts and general behavior with other members of the medical staff. Conversely, reasonable, responsible, professional behavior with expenses reinforces the positive impression you have been working so hard to cultivate.

The best defense against committing an expense report gaffe is to ask yourself, “is this reasonable?” before you submit a receipt for reimbursement. The examples below are all real… Names and specialties redacted to protect the guilty!

Interview expense reports

A typical site visit runs approximately $1,000 to $2,000. Although that’s a drop in the bucket of a hospital or group practice operating budget, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate the type of reasonable employee you will be.

Flights: OK

  • Upgrading to business or premier economy if you are really tall (note this on the expense report) or if you’re recovering from an injury and really need a bit more room.
  • Arranging an interview that will dovetail with a conference, incurring slightly higher airfare than roundtrip from your home airport would have cost but saving you travel time and CME expense.
  • Baggage fees for checked or carry-on baggage.

Flights: Not OK

  • Upgrading to first class because you felt uncomfortable and claustrophobic in the assigned seat.
  • Upgrading to business class because you and your spouse weren’t able to sit together in the assigned coach seats.
  • Insisting that the only time you can interview is during spring break (so you can bring your family on vacation).
  • Building in an extra day to “see the area” when you are actually interviewing with another employer.
  • Incurring a heavy bag (more than 50 pounds) fee for a two-day interview trip preceding a vacation.

Ground transportation: OK

  • Taking a train, subway, Lyft, Uber or car service from your home to the departure airport.
  • Asking to use Lyft, Uber or taxis instead of a rental car (particularly for a short stay).
  • Driving your personal vehicle at the IRS business mileage reimbursement rate of 53.5 cents per mile instead of flying so that you can bring your kids.
  • Requesting an upgrade on a rental car if you are really tall so the seat can be adjusted for comfortable and normal knee and headroom.

Ground transportation: NOT OK

  • Requesting to fly out of a hub airport to avoid changing planes, then submitting a receipt for a $300 town car for the 90-minute trip to the airport.
  • Submitting hundreds of dollars worth of Lyft Premier receipts for shopping and dinner out with friends.
  • Submitting absurdly high restaurant, valet and baggage handling tips for reimbursement. (Feel free to add some dollars at your expense if you receive over-and-above service you would like to personally recognize.)
  • Submitting the mileage for your entire trip, including vacation days and mileage driven on days you were interviewing with another employer.

Hotel: OK

  • Ordering room service in lieu of a meal at a restaurant.
  • Submitting receipts for reasonable tips for bag storage, room service and housekeeping.

Hotel: NOT OK

  • Submitting receipts for alcohol, candy, ice cream or over-the-counter medications from the hotel gift shop.
  • Adding a second hotel room to the bill because your partner snores, and you need your sleep before the interview day.
  • Parking with the valet at twice the cost of self-park.
  • Leaving your personal belongings in your hotel room until you leave in the afternoon, incurring an unnecessary additional night room expense.

Meals: OK

The employer will typically present you with the guidelines of what expenses they reimburse. Alcohol policies vary; ask first, as many employers do not cover alcohol on meal expense reimbursement.

  • Purchasing some food at the grocery store instead of at a restaurant.
  • Asking your travel coordinator about the guidelines for taking your hosts out for a meal if your host is saving the employer hundreds of dollars in lodging costs.

Meals: NOT OK

  • Submitting grocery receipts that include toys, magazines and personal toiletries. Only submit grocery purchases that are in lieu of a restaurant meal.
  • Submitting grocery receipts for snacks, ice cream or dessert purchases. Don’t submit Starbucks stops unless it’s in context of a meal, like breakfast.

Other: Not OK

  • Submitting ski lift tickets, gambling expenses, movie tickets, zoo and water park admissions or spa services. If an employer has invited your spouse and family and intends to entertain them, the employer will let you know.
  • Submitting clothing, makeup or hair appliance purchases due to lost baggage. If the airline doesn’t deliver the luggage to your hotel (which happens in only 2 percent of lost luggage), they have their own process for reimbursement.
  • Submitting insurance copays, over-the-counter medication, or charges for a hotel concierge physician, urgent care or emergency room visit.
  • Expecting reimbursement for kennel fees or pet-sitting fees in your home. The majority of employers consider this your personal expense.

Relocation expense reports

Your moving van may be set up to directly invoice the hospital or practice, but there are a lot of ancillary expenses that can cause problems. Read the relocation policy and have your significant other read it, too. Many relocation dramas unfold due to assumptions made. When in doubt, get pre-approval on the expense.

Relocation: OK

  • Using a friend or relative in the moving business to move, as long as they are a registered, tax-paying business with a website and appropriate insurances. (Get bids from other movers to document that your cousin’s invoice is in line.)
  • Staying in a reasonable, mid-range hotel en route to your destination.

Relocation: NOT OK

  • Submitting a $1,500 for movers. (Tips are usually not covered by employers.)
  • Submitting a handwritten invoice for a cash payment to a mover with no business license, no tax ID and no searchable identity.
  • Instructing movers to disassemble play structures in the old yard and rebuild them in the new yard at the employer’s expense.
  • Detouring to a resort where nightly rates are double what hotels on your route would have been.
  • Submitting grocery, drug store or clothing purchases because the closing for your new house was delayed.
  • Submitting relocation expenses a month after the deadline.

Before you submit that expense report, hit “save” and do something else for a few hours. Ask yourself if your reimbursement requests sound reasonable, sensible and fair. If so, you most likely have done a great job and reinforced your terrific reputation with your new employer!

Therese Karsten is Director of Physician Recruitment for HCA’s Continental Division and a frequent contributor to PracticeLink Magazine.

 

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How to negotiate time off

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance means allocating time for life—away from work.

By Megan Kimbal | Job Doctor | Winter 2018

 

Doctors and patients sit and talk. At the table near the window in the hospital. Doctors and patients sit and talk. At the table near the window in the hospital.

One of the more important things to consider when evaluating a potential job opportunity is the amount of paid time off you’ll receive.

Vacation time is usually forefront on most people’s minds, but it is also important to consider paid time off for continuing medical education (CME) courses and medical mission work. These items have a direct impact on your work-life balance.

Clarify “paid time off”

Does the language of your contract clearly define the amount and allocation of the paid time off you will receive?

Many physicians assume that the paid time off listed in the contract is a non-negotiable part of the benefits package, but that is not always the case. Aside from the amount of time offered, what is offered and/or how it is structured can vary by employer.

For example, you may notice that some employers offer both vacation and CME time off separately. Others combine them into one “paid time off” pool.

It does not matter exactly how it is structured, as long as you are aware whether or not CME time off is included. You can then attempt to negotiate for additional time if desired. Assign a priority to vacation time

Before going into a negotiation, it is crucial that you develop a strategy aimed at getting what you need above what you want. Rank your priorities in order of importance. This will serve as a visual reminder while you are in negotiations of where you should stay focused.

Once you see how your paid time off is allocated, you’ll have to determine if an opportunity’s vacation time fulfills what you need to maintain a healthy work-life balance. If not, what might you be willing to give up to get more? If vacation time is more important to you than a higher salary, for example, make sure you prioritize vacation time above salary during your negotiations.

Failure to prioritize weakens your position in the negotiation process, wastes valuable time, and may ultimately leave you with an unsatisfying contract. On average, most physician employees get three to four weeks of paid vacation time.

Address CME time

The cost and timing of CME courses should be discussed when negotiating your paid time off.

The CME credits required differ by state. Before you enter into negotiations, know how many hours you will be required to complete. More employers are now combining CME time, vacation time and sick leave into one “paid time off” bucket. Make sure you understand exactly how much of your paid time off is expected to be spent on CME.

Most employers will offer a week of paid CME time off with a stipend for expenses incurred in addition to paid vacation days.

Consider medical mission work

Your main focus as you negotiate your contract should be on your long-term personal goals and professional agenda.

If fulfilling a medical mission is a priority to you, then it is important to make sure your employer is aware of your goal. Medical missions can be short-term (1 to 2 weeks) or long-term (3 to 8 weeks). Before entering a contract negotiation, make sure you know what type of mission you are interested in, and how long you plan to be gone.

There are tax deductions available for medical missions, so this could be something for which your employer is willing to give you additional paid time off. If this is a priority, make sure you keep it high on your list—and ultimately be willing to give on something else you are not as passionate about.

Megan Kimbal is the director of client development at Premier Physician Agency, LLC, a national consulting firm specializing in physician job search and contracts.

 

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How to Optimize Your CV

It’s a competitive market for physicians. Following these tips will help you stand out in your search.

By Nicole Cox and Tom Brennan | Fall 2017 | Job Doctor

 

Closeup Top View of People handing out documents

The demand for physicians and other health care practitioners is high. So just as you keep up with the latest best practices in your field, you also should keep up with best practices on your résumé or CV. A weak one can cause you to be passed over in spite of your strong qualifications.

In general, a good CV or résumé is specific, true, achievement-focused and relevant. There are a few simple procedures you can perform on your résumé to optimize outcomes. Based on input from seasoned recruiters, here are tips to make it easy for recruiters to find you and match your qualifications to an organization’s needs.

Streamline the formatting

Most recruiters use search engines and applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to find and process CVs. These tools have parsing functions to scan and pull information. If your CV has graphics, text boxes, unusual bullet styles and frilly fonts or other fancy formatting, it may confuse the parsing function, which could result in your CV being passed over by search engines or mishandled by an ATS.

Spell out acronyms, and include keywords to help with search engine optimization. A few carefully chosen keywords will work better than an overdose of semi-relevant ones. Keywords will include your areas of specialty, so they probably will show up as you list your education and career history. However, use the more common terms that recruiters are likely to use when searching. For example, use “coronary angioplasty” rather than “percutaneous coronary intervention.”

Know whether you need a résumé or CV

“Short and sweet” is a good rule of thumb, but an academic or clinician is more likely to use a curriculum vitae (CV) than a résumé. Depending on your definition of the two terms, you may want both or at least a hybrid. Some consider a CV a simple listing and a résumé as a creative tool for “selling” yourself. You can create a hybrid by formatting the first two pages as a résumé and then set up additional pages as a CV-style list.

While a résumé in just about any other profession should be no longer than two pages, a CV can run several pages long. Be sure to include all your education, including residencies and fellowship training. List the following—especially the most relevant:

  • Honors
  • Awards
  • Patents
  • Speaking engagements
  • Publications

Creating a CV is not an open invitation to be verbose. For example, while you definitely want to list accomplishments for each position, list no more than five under each position. Choose accomplishments that are not only significant, but also relevant to the position for which you’re applying.

Make sure your achievements shine

Recruiters will be looking for your ability to deliver results, so list your key achievements. Be specific about the goals you achieved. Rather than something vague like, “led new process implementation,” state what the new process was, your role in the project and the impact on the organization.

Share numbers

Across industries, there is an increasing focus on metrics. The more you can quantify your accomplishments, the better. You can use actual numbers (such as “Launched asthma community outreach program and enrolled 125 patients”) or percentages (“Developed new ablation method reducing procedure time by an average of 7 percent”).

Either way, provide enough context to show the impact. For example, if your objective was to reduce procedure time by 5 percent, make it clear that you exceeded the goal.

Decide whether to include a cover letter

You’ll need to decide this on a case-by-case basis, but in general, the answer is “no.” The recruiters we talked to said they deal with information overload just like everyone else, and they rarely pay much attention to cover letters. In addition, a cover letter is essentially another page susceptible to infection by typos and grammatical errors.

However, some employers will ask for a cover letter. In that case, apply the same approach you’re using with your résumé: specific, true, achievement-focused and relevant. Treat it as an executive summary, tailor it to the open position and organization, and limit it to one page. For example, if you’re applying for a leadership position in the joint replacement program at a large medical center, explain how your background and experience are directly relevant and set you up for success in the role. If you’re applying for a role in a different location, communicate why you’re planning a move.

Don’t hide any gaps

Plenty of people take breaks during their career, and they aren’t automatic black marks. Maybe you took time for additional schooling (a medical degree plus an MHA or MPA can be powerful combination) or moved to a new state because your spouse was transferred. A legitimate gap only becomes a problem when you try to gloss over it. Smart recruiters will spot gaps, and without an explanation, they may jump to their own conclusions.

List the gap in the chronology of your career along with jobs, including dates and a brief explanation. Just the same, be careful about providing too much information, like your age, relationships or children. Employers aren’t allowed to ask for that kind of information, and you shouldn’t offer it.

Pay attention to the first impressions you give

Think of your CV as your envoy in the talent market. You want that envoy to represent you in the best light. Even if you aren’t actively looking for a new position, a solid, up-to-date CV can benefit you. Post it to relevant professional job boards, and a recruiter just might bring an interesting opportunity to your attention. Overall, a good CV helps you optimize your market presence.

Nicole Cox is chief recruitment officer at dtoolbox.com. She oversees all corporate recruiting operations for the organization. Tom Brennan is senior writer at Decision Toolbox.

 

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The Top 5 Physician Interview Mistakes

By Matt Wiggins | Job Doctor | Summer 2017

 

Physician interview mistakesEmployment interviews are the cause of much angst among the physician community at large. Upon scheduling an interview, you may start envisioning yourself sitting across from much more experienced and potentially jaded physicians, business professionals looking to sniff out a bad investment, or HR assassins trained to pick apart your flaws to ensure they don’t let a weak link through the doors of the hospital.

Though this fear is a bit far-fetched, it’s surprisingly common. The truth is, you can’t control how the interviewers handle the interview, and thus shouldn’t worry about it. You can only control how you handle an interview, and the key to handling it well is to prepare thoroughly and avoid these mistakes that are often a part of the physician interview process.

Mistake #1: One and Done

Many physicians, especially those just finishing training, have in their minds an ideal scenario for practicing medicine. They have preconditions and preconceptions about where and how they want to work. Having such ideas may lead you to interview with only one employer, but this is a huge mistake. Most physicians are not master poker players, and eventually an employer will realize you are only interviewing with them. When this happens, you can forget negotiating for better income, vacation, call schedule, bonuses or really anything else. If they’re your only interview, they hold all the cards: You have nothing to compare them to and lots of motivation to take their offer. At any stage of your career, having multiple interviews ensures you will be able to evaluate factors you may never have thought of. You can use pros from each opportunity to make the others better and negotiate from a position of strength and opportunity rather than weakness and dependence.

Mistake #2: Failure to Prepare

You would never take your boards without preparing. You would never invest your money without researching ahead of time. You would never propose marriage without some sort of knowledge of the person and some plans in place. The same should be said for interviewing. Before sitting across the conference table from a much more experienced interviewer, you should do the following:

  • Research the employer’s location, reputation, background, achievements, size, patient population, recent headlines and any other important information you can get your hands on.
  • Create a list of employment priorities for yourself, and your family if applicable, in order of importance.
  • Develop a list of questions specifically designed to learn about your priorities so that if time runs short or you lose your nerve, you will at least leave the interview with an idea of how your most important concerns would be addressed in that situation.
  • Finally, review what you know about the position they are interviewing for. Prepare a list of the top three to five things that make you a good fit for that job and make sure that the questions they ask are answered in a manner that conveys those main points as much as possible.

Mistake #3: Interviewing Dory

You can tell I have three kids 10 and under when I reference a Pixar movie. If you haven’t seen it, “Finding Dory” is a cute animated movie that is sort of a sequel to “Finding Nemo” and follows the character of Dory, an adorable blue fish that suffers from extreme short-term memory loss. This obviously leads to a lot of bad decisions, mistaken identities, frustration and comedy. It’s not so comedic, however, when physicians display the same thing while interviewing for employment opportunities.

I’ve heard it said that we forget 50 percent of what we hear within one hour of hearing it and close to 70 percent within 24 hours. This means that just one day after an interview, you may only retain 30 percent of what was said. No one should make a major life decision based on 30 percent of the information. The solution is to take notes during the interview and to use the same prepared questions for each interview. This will both help you retain what has been said and give you a way to compare different opportunities (specifically, how they measure up with regard to your top priorities) in an apples-to-apples manner.

Mistake #4: Failure to Follow Up

Take some advice from an earlier generation and send a thank-you note, card, letter or email after your interview. Simply showing appreciation for the interviewers’ time speaks volumes about your communication and relational skills. It can also improve the prospective employer’s perception of both your bedside manner and your potential as a colleague. I’ve seen physicians get offered positions in highly competitive situations as a result of their interview follow-up—don’t forget to do this!

Mistake #5: Not Taking this Advice

The physicians who will do well are those who will listen to the advice of people who have worked with thousands of doctors before them. It’s tempting to believe that interviews are either easy—just an opportunity to answer questions about yourself—or impossibly hard. In actuality, interviews should not be taken lightly, but they also shouldn’t be cause for nightmares. By preparing thoroughly for your interview, you can interview the prospective employer simultaneously. Based on their answers to your questions, you can decide whether you want to work for them. Their answers will also help you compare multiple offers and ultimately negotiate the best employment opportunity possible.

Matthew J. Wiggins is partner and senior consultant for Pattern.

 

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From good to pitch perfect: Avoid common candidate communication errors

Don’t let poor communication blow a strong first impression.

By Therese Karsten | Job Doctor | Spring 2017

 

Your communication skills showcase your ability to organize, reason, handle technology and interact with staff. Employers know that the way you handle administrative tasks during recruitment is a harbinger of how you will handle administrative tasks in employment.

Plus, error-free communications keep you at the top of the candidate slate. In a competitive job market, missed communications give time for another equally qualified candidate to grab the employer’s attention while you’re trying to reschedule or reconnect.

Here are some practical tips for staying on top of your communication game.

Check your outbound voicemail message

Is your voicemail message professional but engaging? Is your name clearly enunciated? If not, the managing partner trying to call you may not know if she’s reached you. She may leave a message, she may not. She may be thinking, This can’t be the right number. A physician looking for a job would never leave a generic outgoing message on the phone number he gives to employers.

Check the email address on your CV

Is it one you actually check? If not, Murphy’s Law dictates that it will be the address that will actually be emailed. We’ve also had candidates miss emails because they used their training program email addresses to pose questions, but expect the answers in their personal email inboxes. For the duration of the job search, set your email application default to show “all incoming mail” so you don’t miss any crucial job search communications.

Check your telephone presentation

When you call a recruiter, don’t say “Hi, how are you today?” That’s how salespeople and outside search firms open a conversation. You, the physician, are our top priority, so your strongest open is “Hi, this is Dr. Smith.” Don’t say, “I’m calling about the internal medicine ad—is that job still available?” Recruiters are working on anywhere from 15 to 50 jobs at a time, and we need more information to answer you best.

Instead, say: “Hi, this is Jenny Smith, and I’m a third-year internal medicine resident at the University of St. Louis. I’m calling about your ad on PracticeLink for intensivists for Presbyterian/St. Luke’s in Denver.” The same goes for voicemails. A succinct, informative intro gets you what you need from us as quickly as possible.

Know when/how to use “reply all”

If an employer asks you a question via email and has other email addresses on the Cc line, use “reply all.” Cc is an abbreviation for “carbon copy.” It means the sender intended for a third party to see the email and implies that the sender also wants that recipient to see your response. If you ignore this, you are depending wholly on the initial sender not only to notice that you didn’t copy the other person but also to relay your response.

Make the most of the subject line of email

Recruiters receive up to 400 emails a day, and the only way to prioritize is by subject line. Use that line to convey urgency, and even use the urgent flag when warranted. “No location yet for Friday lunch” is going to get a recruiter or practice administrator’s attention immediately. An email with subject line “Update” is not—it doesn’t convey that an urgent reply is needed.

Identify yourself when texting

Texting is the best thing since sliced bread, but make sure you identify yourself in the initial text. “This is Dr. Jenny Smith checking to see if the group was able to move the dinner to Thursday. I have to give final dates to my program by EOB today.” We have wonderful applicant tracking systems that recognize names, email addresses and phone numbers in emails. But on a smart phone, all we see is a phone number if you are not stored as a known contact.

Leave a voicemail

We know, we know—many physicians under 35 simply don’t do voicemail. When the recipient sees a missed call, he should simply return the call, right? But recruiters and practices receive a lot of calls from vendors. We return messages, but we won’t redial every incoming call. Leave a message!

Know the steps to the conference call, WebEx or Skype interview dance

Verify the time zone. Try to click or dial in early to allow time to troubleshoot. If you can’t get in, or nobody is on the line after the scheduled time, email or text the organizer. If you are all alone on a conference call and someone is trying to call you, hit “hold and accept” to see if it’s the organizer. It’s not uncommon to have technical problems, and recruiters may be trying to reach everyone with a new number or to reschedule. Once on a call, don’t ever put the call on hold—just mute the call if you need to answer a page. (Hold means we all hear your hospital’s hold music and can’t talk among ourselves!) Also use the mute button if you need to sneeze, cough or hiss “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?!” at someone.

Don’t guess on reference contact information

Even if you are closely connected to a practice you are joining, the employer has to comply with HR protocol and document that they have checked references. Give us the right numbers and email addresses upfront!

Don’t copy/paste your thank you message

Employers forward your thank you note to others on the decision team. Of course there is going to be some commonality, but try to think of something relevant to that interviewer’s conversation with you. It’s painfully obvious when we all get exactly the same three sentences. Conversely, there are a lot of virtual oohs and ahs when we see thoughtful and original thank you messages.

Name documents thoughtfully

If an employer sends you a form to complete or asks for an updated copy of your CV, pause before hitting save. Every day we receive CVs with crazy names like “Ryan Resume—v 8 with research obj statement” or “St. Mary’s document.” The candidate who puts her first and last name and the title of the document in the file name is telling me that she is detail-oriented. She is thinking about what might be helpful to us in storing documents related to her prospective employment with us.

Inform the employers you decide not to join

Even if you’re not taking the job, close the loop with an email or phone call. I hear excuses like “They’ll just know when I stop responding” or “I didn’t want to respond because I hadn’t actually signed yet.” Once you have negotiated the key terms of your contract, it’s time to tell the unsuccessful suitors so they can move on to other candidates. Don’t end things on a sour note by going dark in a misguided attempt to preserve options. Wish the employer the best of luck with their search. It’s a small world, and you want to be remembered as a terrific candidate who acted with class and manners throughout the recruitment dance!

Therese Karsten, MBA, CMSR, FASPR is the director of physician recruitment for HCA Physician Services Group.

 

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The who, what and when of contract negotiations

Your first employment contract may look like it’s written in a foreign language. Here’s a guide to help you know what to look for and what to negotiate.

By Jeff Hinds, MHA | Fall 2016 | Job Doctor

 

Most physicians, particularly those finishing training and looking toward their first practices, have had years of medical training but almost no training about how to find a job—and, once they’ve been offered one, how to determine if contract terms are fair. Here’s some advice on what to look for in a contract and what to know as you head into negotiations.

The Parties Involved

The first step to navigate the negotiation process successfully is to understand who will be involved in the process. From the employer’s perspective, the exact title or role of the individual who handles negotiations will vary by organization—it may be an in-house recruiter, practice administrator, CFO, CEO, attorney or someone else entirely. Regardless of the title or role, it goes without saying that the employer will likely be better versed than you when it comes to the contractual terms within their agreement. It is also worth noting that the agreement was written by an attorney to help protect the interests of the employer. There is too much at risk professionally and personally for you not to ensure the same. Because of this, it is highly advisable that physicians also seek outside assistance from an attorney to help with contract review and negotiation. The investment is minimal when compared to the potential ramifications.

The Proper Timing

It is equally important to know when the actual negotiation process begins. Though certain contractual terms may be introduced early in the process, such as during phone interviews or site visits, formal negotiation of terms should occur later in the process after a contract offer has been made. There may be instances in which employers ask for your feedback on particular terms (e.g., compensation), but it is in your best interest simply to collect the information shared by the employer at that point and hold off on all negotiations until an offer is in hand. Otherwise, you run the risk of being too aggressive and losing a potential offer before it has even been made. Waiting until later in the process will also allow you ample time to collect or research market data, gain feedback from peers or advisers on questionable terms, and assess your overall leverage before determining what to negotiate and how aggressive you can actually be in negotiations.

The Negotiable Terms

Knowledge of which contractual items are actually negotiable is paramount heading into the negotiation process. Though most physician contracts nationwide are similar from a structural standpoint, there are some key provisions/terms that vary by organization and affect the overall quality of the offer. Below are examples of some key items that may be negotiable in any given contract. But again, it is highly advisable to obtain a qualified health care contract attorney to fully assess all terms and determine the most appropriate revisions to seek based on your unique situation.

Base Salary. How does the salary offered compare to published salary surveys and benchmarking data both nationally and regionally for the given specialty? What competing offers exist within the immediate area to determine market value and provide leverage?

Pre-Employment Compensation. What are standard signing bonus and relocation reimbursement amounts for the specialty and region? What is standard when it comes to student loan reimbursement and educational stipends?

Productivity Compensation. What are the metrics used to calculate productivity compensation, and are they reasonably attainable based on the market data available? Will a base salary remain in place for the duration of the contract term, or will compensation transition to productivity-only?

Termination Language. What termination with cause and termination without cause provisions exist, and are they adequately defined? Is there a notice and cure period in place that provides the physician with added protection from termination with cause?

Restrictive Covenant. Does the contract possess noncompete language, and are the time and distance restrictions reasonable? Do the restrictions apply to areas surrounding a single location or to areas surrounding multiple locations that are part of the employer’s network?

Professional Liability Insurance. What type of professional liability insurance will be provided—a claims-made or an occurrence policy? And if applicable, will the employer or the physician be responsible for the full (or partial) expense of acquiring tail coverage?

Scrutinizing your contract, even with a lawyer’s assistance, may seem laborious at first, but it’s time well spent. By negotiating contract terms before you sign, you will reap the benefits of a more advantageous agreement for years to come.

Jeff Hinds, MHA, is president at Premier Physician Agency, LLC, a national consulting firm specializing in physician job search and contracts.

 

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Creating your desired first impression

Looking to move forward as a candidate? Improve your chances with these tips.

By Jeff Hinds, MHA | Job Doctor | Winter 2017

 

In the absence of any pre-established relationship, the content of your CV and other application materials are all an employer knows about you before deciding whether to consider you as a candidate for their job opening. The reality is that you may be filtered out as a viable candidate for your dream job before you even have the opportunity to sell yourself via a phone interview or on-site visit.

There will likely be competition for any position you decide to pursue, so how you market yourself as a candidate should not be taken lightly. Though the content of your CV and other application materials may appear very basic on the surface, it is the minor details that can set you apart and differentiate you from the competition when all else is equal.

Create a strong CV

The first document that will be required by all employers is your curriculum vitae (CV). Employers use the CV as a screening mechanism to filter out candidates who don’t seem like the right fit before proceeding to phone interviews.

To determine fit and qualification, they look for obvious items like medical training and education, work history, certifications, licensure, professional associations, honors and awards, research and publications. Your goal is to include all the pertinent information that will set you apart as a candidate.

Conversely, do not add what could be construed as irrelevant content just to make your CV longer. The length of your CV is not indicative of your quality as a candidate. Simply adding content to increase length will dilute the meaningful substance of your CV and make it more difficult for potential employers to navigate.

Employers need to be able to navigate through your CV quickly to find the information they are looking for. Beyond the content itself, you can also help accomplish this through proper formatting, consistent spacing and listing activities in reverse chronological order. Employers are most interested in what you are doing now and shouldn’t have to dig too far to find that information.

Again, a strong CV will not win you the job necessarily, but one that is disorganized and difficult to navigate can certainly eliminate you from consideration earlier in the process.

Sell yourself in your cover letter

It is to your advantage to submit a cover letter along with your CV. Your CV may show how you’re qualified, but your cover letter will show why you’re a great fit.

If there is a job posting or advertisement for the opening, take the specific qualifications, skills or attributes being sought and elaborate further in the letter on how you are a match. In addition, indicate any pre-existing relationships you have in the organization or area to show that your commitment to the opportunity will be long-lasting.

Line up references and letters of recommendation

Request letters of recommendation or contact information for your references before or at the onset of your search. Be sure to notify your references if you believe a potential employer will be reaching out to them.

By devoting the necessary time and attention to ensure your application materials reflect your strength as a candidate, your chances of moving forward in the process are only increased. You have worked hard to get this far in your career and do not want to miss out on your dream job for reasons within your control.

Jeff Hinds, MHA, is president of Premier Physician Agency, LLC, a national consulting firm specializing in physician job search and contracts.

 

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How to make the most of your CV gaps

A gap in your work history doesn’t have to work against you. These expert tips will help you make the most of your career timeline.

By Anish Majumdar | Job Doctor | Summer 2016

 

I recently worked with an emergency medicine physician who was wrapping up her residency and hunting for a new opportunity. Her program was among the top 10 percent in the country. Her teaching experience and volunteering background were first-rate. There was just one problem: Her four-year residency had taken five years to complete.

During a phone consultation to discuss her career, I brought it up, half-thinking it might have been just a typo on her CV. No typo.

After a lengthy pause, she explained that a close family member had unexpectedly died during her first year of residency. In the aftermath, it was impossible simply to continue on with training, so she’d opted for a one-year leave of absence. Love of medicine had brought her back.

Do you think an employer is more likely to hire someone who owns this part of her journey or tries to ignore the issue? The truth is, ignoring it never works.

Recruiters and hiring agents aren’t robots—they’re people like you and me. They get that life happens. They’re also trained to spot inconsistencies on someone’s CV and will, if they’re not addressed, assume the worst. “Five years to complete a four-year residency? Probably due to poor performance. Pass.”

This is why it’s critical to control the message you’re putting out there, especially when it comes to vulnerabilities. Abide by the following tips.

Create a “Career Note” within your CV

Inserting a brief one to two line “Career Note” directly within the “Work History” section of your CV is one of the most effective ways to address a gap. By placing it in a reader’s line of sight, you enable him to pick up on the relevant details without getting distracted from the rest of the document.

Work Gap Example #1: Taking time off to deal with a personal loss.

Career Note: Undertook a one-year leave of absence to cope with a loss in the family. Strengthened personal relationships, managed household affairs, and volunteered for monthly community health clinics (April 2014 – April 2015).

Note the last part about health clinics. If you took on anything remotely career-related during your work gap, be sure to mention it. This sends a clear message to hiring agents that you remained “in the mix” and continually developing during this period.

Work Gap Example #2: Taking time off to pursue training in another field.

Career Note: Pursued Master of Health Care Administration Degree at University of XYZ between 2014 and 2016, with a goal of incorporating knowledge into a hospital leadership position.

Answering why you pursued this training is a great way to get a reader to understand your thinking. I would also recommend placing the “Education” section near the start of the CV to showcase this training. If it’s currently in progress, it’s fine to list it as follows:

Master of Health Care Administration – University of XYZ (Expected Graduation December 2016)

Share your story within the cover letter

Great cover letters offer a glimpse of the person behind the qualifications: what inspires, challenges and differentiates them. In other words, it’s a prime opportunity to spin your work gap into a positive differentiator instead of a negative. The trick is to frame it in a way that adds value to your candidacy.

Use the CARB formula when broaching a gap within the cover letter: challenge, action, results and benefits. Here’s what I wrote for my five-year residency client (altered to maintain confidentiality):

“During my second year of residency, I faced a moment that shook me to my core and made me question my commitment to medicine. My mother, on a visit from New Zealand, suddenly passed away. I found myself without an anchor, adrift, and took a one-year leave of absence to recover and keep our family whole. What I discovered was a greater sense of purpose, an unshakeable belief that circumstances would not alter the course of my journey as a doctor. Upon finishing my residency, I will have completed more than 1,000 clinical hours, executed a significant body of research and gained specialized training in medical education and simulation. I am a stronger, more focused physician because of what I’ve gone through, not in spite of it.”

Proactively address it during the interview

Congrats, you’ve made it past the screening process and have received an invitation to the big game. Don’t blow it by being unprepared to address obvious holes in your career!

Try to weave the explanation in naturally during conversation, before you’re asked about it. Here’s how you can broach being laid off at your previous appointment:

“While leaving my last job was challenging on many fronts, both professionally and in terms of the impact to my family, I wouldn’t change a thing. My last position taught me that in order to be an effective physician, you need to be part of an organization that shares your values and is committed to empowering staff to create a truly world-class institution. Sometimes a hard experience can clarify your beliefs, and that’s what happened here.”

Above all, remember this: The seriousness of an employment gap—and how much of a career liability it will be—rests largely on how you feel about it. Come to terms with it personally, and these tips will help take care of the rest.

Anish Majumdar is a career strategist, certified résumé writer and founder of ResumeOrbit.com.

 

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