Physician candidate digital footprint

Chris Hinz

Table of Contents

Give your physician candidate digital footprint a checkup before starting a job search

Navigating a job search is challenging enough. But when you’re doing it in the digital and virtual interview world, you have even more to think about. Position yourself for success by concentrating on three critical areas: CVs, social media profiles and a great virtual interview.

CV challenge

By protecting your privacy and focusing your content, you can make it easy for recruiters to find and process your information — but still tough for potential identity thieves to cause havoc.

Recruiters don’t need your social security number, date of birth or street address; just your city and state are enough. Include your college, med school, residency and contact info—“but that’s as private as it should get,” says Candace Ash, CPRP, physician recruiter for CommonSpirit Health. “You want to remove any information that could compromise you as a person.”

Keep your DEA OR medical license numbers private; naming the states where they’re current or pending will suffice. The same holds true for board and other certifications. Mention what you have, but save specifics for later.

As Whitney Hamm Clark, CPRP, provider sourcing specialist for Lifepoint Health, notes: “You’re giving the employer an overview of your credentials without including unnecessary information just to protect yourself digitally.”

Once you’re in a recruiter’s sights, they will likely Google your name. So, save yourself the hassle of putting your photo on your CV. As Jessica Lewis McCrary, physician recruiter for ETS OBGYN, notes: “Just put it on your LinkedIn profile. They’re going to see it.”

Make sure your CV answers key questions upfront: When will you be available? How can you be reached? Do you have the experience for the position?

If you’re still in residency or fellowship, be clear about when you anticipate completing your program. Don’t assume that the person reading your CV will know when you’re finished just by the date you started. Instead, be specific. (Ditto if you already have a position. When do you anticipate leaving?)

As Therese Karsten CPRP, CMSR, provider recruitment sourcing consultant for Privia Health, notes: “It’s up to you to protect yourself from being passed over because the recruiter misinterpreted information on your CV. Spell it out as if you are explaining it to your seatmate on an airplane.”

Also, since your CV is your ticket to an interview, make sure your cell and email are up top. Group together information about your education, training and professional history. If you trained outside the U.S., your visa and U.S. board status should top the list since both may be key in finding a work home.

A common chronology school of thought is to start where you are today and work backward. As Stephanie Ostrander, vice president of human resources and physician recruitment at Corewell Health, notes: “This really allows whoever is reviewing that CV to quickly get a picture of your relevant background and experience.”

When Alex King, D.O., is considering physician candidates for his Morton, Pennsylvania-based King Osteopathic Medicine & Medical Acupuncture, he wants to see CVs that are not only clear, complete and flow in a longitudinal timeline, but also reflect skills and qualifications befitting the position.

As to other fundamentals, King encourages candidates to send their CVs as PDFs. It’ll be able to be opened no matter the recruitment system, and it offers a clean look that’s helpful for those reviewing information. “It all comes down to the basics,” he says. “Make sure the formatting is professional and that there aren’t any missed spots in your employment timeline. If there is a gap, note what you were doing during that time.”

Protecting your social profile

While you’re researching your potential employer, potential employers are doing the same on you. Recruiters can see a plethora of information about you online either because it’s in the public domain or you (or someone else) put it there. Put yourself in a hiring team’s shoes. What are they likely to learn by scanning your social profiles? “It’s not bad for recruiters to be able to find information online,” Karsten says. “But it better be flattering and consistent with what you’d want the employer entity or practice lead physicians to see.”

Karsten, for instance, loves finding wedding websites, backcountry hiking photos — posts that confirm a genuine reason that the physician and spouse want to live where she’s recruiting.

Indeed, hiring teams aren’t just buying your skill set. They want to know who goes with it. Will you be a good fit culturally? Does your private life jive with your professional persona or their organization’s mission and standards?

What might influence a decision? “It’s what we tell our kids now,” says Bruce A. Mast, M.D., a plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon at UFHealth. “Candidates need to understand that in looking for a job, their social media needs to be clean. Having a drink in your hand at a party is not a big deal because everyone takes those types of pictures. But showing yourself shooting beers at a fraternity house is probably not a great idea.”

In short, make sure that any social media platform mention of you represents the brand that you’ve developed for yourself. As Eric J. Sedwick, CPC, CPRP, system director for physician & app support services/recruitment at Premier Health, notes: “It’s either a positive one that’s going to present opportunities or it’s a negative one that people want to stay away from. So, if you’re looking for a position, make sure that your social media is clean.”

Maria Jones, D.O., agrees, noting that she has a “waxing and waning” engagement with social media. The PGY-3 emergency medicine/internal medicine resident at ChristianaCare says she’s “incredibly careful” about what she includes. Jones follows the advice she’d give others: “Make sure your profiles are appropriate and professional. Feel free to show who you truly are, but be aware that what you post is available for everyone to see. My rule of thumb is to showcase what you would be proud to show your mom or grandma.”

Being vigilant about what you’re posting is a good start. Then, do a Google search for a quick read on your name. You might find items that you don’t remember or weren’t even aware existed.

If, for instance, someone lodged a medical complaint against you that was later expunged—or you were one of several listed in a malpractice suit that was later dismissed—it’s important to recall those particulars. Besides showing up during credentialing, they could be interviewing grist. So, you want to be prepared.

Review your social media settings and set them to private, or make sure you’re aware and comfortable with who can see what.

If there’s something unflattering about you online, get ahead of it. Consider addressing it in a cover letter or introductory email, or discuss it with your recruiter, who can help you determine how to handle it.

Sedwick recalls physician candidates who were quick to clear the air, mentioning early on: “By the way, you may have already seen this on the Internet about me. This is what happened.” He and his colleagues are happy for an explanation. “The team greatly appreciates it,” Sedwick says, “because we know upfront that we’re all on the same page, whether we can move forward or not with the process and not waste anyone’s time.”

Your story may even be a great icebreaker. If your Google search reveals, for instance, that you have the same name as a pro wrestler, you have a funny quip to open the conversation. It’s far more memorable than today’s weather! If you have the same name as a family member in the same specialty, make that clear as well to save confusion later. Finally, if the law is involved, be upfront about the circumstances.

Interviewing online

Whether you’re interviewing from a boardroom or from your dining room, remember that it is still an interview. Even if your initial meeting is virtual, you want to be as professional and prepared as you would be for any in-person meeting.

Your first goal is to avoid any technology or electronic snafus. You don’t want to waste the first 10 minutes of your interview trying to fix glitches with the platform, camera or internet connection. Reserve enough time for checking and troubleshooting your equipment.

For starters, verify that you’ve downloaded the most recent version of the platform you’ll be using. Then test your device’s audio quality and camera. If either is lacking, you may have to purchase an external camera or microphone. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to the recruiter if something goes awry at the last minute.

“In the virtual world, you really have to think through all of the potential barriers that technology can bring,” Ostrander says, noting being shocked by the number of applicants who don’t do an initial check and then suffer the results. “It’s back to that old saying, ‘Technology is good…until it isn’t.’”

Whatever the case, remain poised. Communication glitches not only occur but can also be off-putting if you don’t handle them well. If an unusual or awkward issue surfaces, “Just relax and be yourself,” says Kurt Schussler, managing partner of Medical Advantage Recruiters. “Make a joke of it and move on.”

Select a spot that’s private enough for you to focus on who you’re talking to and what you’re saying. In fact, in thinking about those candidates that she and her colleagues have connected with immediately, Clark notes that a dedicated space for the interview was a critical difference-maker. “We’ve gotten a good feel for who they are and what they’re looking for,” she says. “They seemed more engaged being in a quieter, more professional environment.” Keep the decor behind you organized and professional, and do a test run with a trusted friend to see how you perform—and how the environment appears. “People are so used to their own backgrounds that they forget what’s there and what’s going to show,” Karsten says. “They forget what might even look weird.”

Take advantage of every virtual opportunity to shine. Mentioning an interesting hobby on your CV, for instance, not only might break the interviewing ice, but also give your potential colleagues a taste of who they’re bringing onto the team.

“People want to work with people they see themselves getting along with,” says Marjorie Alexander-Vermeulen, CPR, ChenMed’s managing director of physician recruiting. “If you’re very serious, stiff or just about business, it’s very difficult to see how you might be with patients. Will you be able to connect with them? Will you be able to connect with your peers?”

Jones agrees, noting that since the recruiter can only see your face and upper body, being engaged is key. “Sometimes even being overly animated will let the interviewer know you are excited to be present,” she says, offering a few tips that she learned while navigating her entire residency interview cycle via virtual sessions because of COVID. When you’re speaking, always look into the camera as if you’re talking directly to this person. If you’re taking notes, let it be known so you don’t appear distracted.

Jones’s advice to others? “Have fun with it. You worked hard to get to the interview stage. So don’t let a virtual window block your ability to connect with the person on the other side. Relax, show your true self, and enjoy!” •




Chris Hinz

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