In job-search advisory sessions with residents and fellows, the most urgent questions come from physicians perplexed about why they aren’t getting calls and interview invitations. Graduating physicians’ pipeline of inquiries, phone interviews and site visits should be full in the winter months. If it isn’t, you don’t have time to watch and wait. Run through this checklist to see if any of these issues are reducing the number of calls you are receiving.
Are you on employers’ radars?
If you aren’t getting emails and snail mail about jobs in your specialty, you may not be in the AMA Masterfile or you may have told them not to release your name. Allopathic med schools and most ACGME accredited residencies report physician names and graduation or training status to the AMA’s Masterfile, the foundation of most physician mailing lists. Go to AMA-assn.org or call (800) 262-3211, press 1, extension 4031, to check your record.
Has your contact information changed?
If you have married or divorced or deleted email accounts, employers’ communications may not reach you. Check your listings for accuracy. If the AMA, PracticeLink and other resources don’t know you are completing training in a few months, employers can’t include you in notifications.
Are you checking email/voicemail?
Recruiters pose follow-up questions based on your initial online response. If you don’t respond, your candidacy is essentially on hold. We may check back again, but only if we haven’t already filled the position with a candidate who was ready for next steps.
Have you applied for enough positions?
Recruiters typically post jobs on multiple sites known for good traffic for the specialty and type of candidate we need for that search. Use both broad categories and tightly focused channels to increase your likelihood of connecting with the jobs you might want. Email volume is a short-term problem if you make an email address specifically for the search and delete the account or unlink it from your primary email box once you’ve found your job.
Do you match the search criteria?
Recruiters prioritize incoming responses and correspondence according to how closely candidates match the search criteria. After essential training and eligibility criteria, we scan for a connection (family, spouse, friends, history of living or vacationing here). Connect the dots for us and explain why you want to live and work in our community. Unless the tie to the location on your CV is obvious, a “cold” response with no cover message and no clues in your profile is going right to the bottom of our priority list. Did you specify when you are available to begin practice? If you trust someone else to know your specialty’s training duration and do the math, your CV may be erroneously recorded in the database as not available until next year.
Do you have geographic ties?
Candidates who don’t have a lot of geographic ties sometimes list 10 or more states of interest or check “open.” Some leave all fields blank. Their job search resembles a buckshot pattern with reponses scattered all over the country. This is irrelevant to some employers but backfires with many more who have observed over time that a candidate who doesn’t care where the job is located doesn’t stay in the job very long.
If you don’t have ties, keep your preference statement general but thoughtful. I liked one that said “Medium-sized city with four seasons, conservative social values, within two-hour drive of a hub airport.” Another said “Cities where soccer is a religion.” Both statements rule out a lot of locations, but these opened doors and caught our attention.
Is your digital footprint free of contradictions?
Take a look at your cover messages, CV and your online profiles on the major job search boards. If the profile you made two years ago says “I’m looking for warm major metro areas in the Southeast,” then the Utah, Colorado and Oregon recruiters will be skeptical of your sudden interest. Proofread your cover letters to avoid copy/paste errors. Every day, recruiters receive messages extolling the wonders of the location —but ending with a statement about an entirely different region.
Does your CV fit what you’re applying for?
Job search is not much different from the residency match process. You respond to some jobs where you are competing with graduates of programs more prestigious than yours, several that are likely fits, and some that are safe bets. Your faculty can help you know what this looks like for you personally.
Don’t count on nuanced explanations from the recruiter about why you didn’t get the invitation. Here in PracticeLink Magazine and in job search 101 sessions, we give you the scoop on how employers tend to think and act. When it comes to individual employment process decisions, we have to stick to the HR explanation that decision-makers have “moved on to other candidates who are a better fit for the practice.”
What if we Google your name?
What pops up on Pipl.com or Spokeo? Most candidates are savvy enough to lock down their own Facebook account. Employers still see photos that you would not have chosen because other people have named/tagged you. You and a nephew with your hands posed in what appear to be gang signs. You and a bunch of friends in interesting Halloween costumes. An arrest mug shot from that colorful college spring break fiasco.
Or most commonly: A residency bio and photo calculated to make you sound fun and approachable to the fourth-year med students the residency program is trying to recruit. I’ve seen bios list hobbies like shopping, competitive Call of Duty video gaming, celebrity gossip and binge-watching Netflix seasons of “The Bachelor.”
Those bios were never intended to be read by employers, but that’s what pops up when employers Google you. These mid-to-late-career physicians are looking for serious, dependable physicians ready to carry on the practice’s legacy. So get busy making sure that’s what shows up online.
Have you had a faculty member edit your CV?
Your mentors have your back, and helping you find the best job is in the institution’s best interest. They will explain that nomination to “America’s Best Doctors” does not belong on your CV because anybody who orders the coffee table book is included. Mentors will help you edit out things like fast food jobs and college committees. They will catch grammar gaffes and word choice errors in your cover letter template. They will correct “advise” to “advice” or replace “site” when you should have used “cite.” Consult them!
“Watch and wait” is a sound medical approach to many conditions, but a silent phone for a job-searching physician is not one of them.
Complete this checklist, and you should see a significant uptick in recruiter and employer responses within a few days.
Therese Karsten, MBA, FASPR is a senior in-house recruiter assisting HCA affiliated and hospital-employed practices in her markets.