At a recent physician specialty conference, a client stopped by the PracticeLink booth to say hi and offer some feedback. As PracticeLink is dedicated to constant improvement, I paid close attention so I could pass the idea along.
However, this particular client’s issue had less to do with PracticeLink and more to do with the physicians who use it—specifically, the way that physicians select the geographic areas in which they’re interested in working.
Curious, I informally surveyed more physician recruiters and found that most agreed: They hate it when physicians list their geographic preferences as “open U.S.”—meaning you’re open to a new job in any location, nationwide.
Why being too open can backfire
From your perspective, this might not entirely make sense. After all, there is a good chance that you’re just finishing training and are, in fact, pretty open to where you’ll go next. And you certainly don’t want to miss any opportunity that might be a good fit, no matter where it might be located.
But from the perspective of in-house physician recruiters, this openness is a signal that, when your contract is up in two or three years, you’ll be packing up and heading out somewhere new.
So what’s the answer?
Obviously, there are no guarantees that you are going to like the place you go, no matter how much research you do beforehand. And though nobody will expect you to stay beyond your contract if you’re miserable, some prep work can minimize that chance and help you identify locations where you’ll be more likely to stay long-term.
First, there might be some parts of the country to which you’re already attracted. Start there, and try to figure out why you like about those areas. Is there another part of the country that has those same attributes?
Next, think back to a time when you had free time. What were the things you enjoyed doing, and how important are they to you now? Will those opportunities be available in the locations you’re considering?
Are you interested in being close to family? If so, make sure you include those areas in your preferences, and determine how far you’d be willing to drive for a visit. Recruiters love when a candidate has roots in their area, and it may give you a leg up. Consider, too, the opportunities available for your spouse or partner and children.
Once you have some places identified, make those your geographic preferences. The next step is to visit those locations, ideally through the interview process. When you get there, make sure you try and take some time to explore the area, not just the employer.
You may find that you were wrong and those are not places you want to live. That’s fine—and better to find out before a contract is signed. Remove the location from your preferences and take it as a lesson learned.
Picking a location is as important as picking a practice. Employers know this and are going to be a lot more interested in candidates who have done their homework and know exactly where they want to live.