Veru Bosco, a physician recruiter I work with, recently emailed me after speaking with one of my clients. About my client, Ms. Bosco enthused, “I LOVE HER! Her personality, experience, and needing only 4 – 6 weeks’ notice will make her a great candidate for someone.” I smiled. And within two months my client had her top choice non-clinical position.
Not all physician – recruiter interactions go so well – for both sides. Love is not the only four-letter I hear. Talking to both physicians and recruiters about their experience with this relationship, there is a lot of positive, but also a common theme of disrespectful behavior by both parties.
Recruiters are turned off by doctors who are arrogant and assume because they are big cheeses in their world, that doors should just open automatically. Physicians are angered by recruiters who spam them with unsolicited contact, misrepresent a job, or go MIA during the recruiting process – without any explanation.
As physicians, we can either avoid recruiters altogether or find a win-win way to work with them. For those transitioning to a non-clinical career, finding a recruiter who specializes in your area of interest, such as pharma, health insurance, physician advising or medical writing can be like finding gold.
A recruiter can potentially help by offering:
- Advice on your CV or resume
- Background information on their non-clinical area
- Interviewing tips
- Key insider information about a potential position
- Guidance on salary and benefits
- Negotiation support
- Alerts on new job opportunities
To share some tips for you on how to finesse this relationship, I went to the source and spoke with two highly experienced recruiters:
Veru Bosco, MBA, CPC is Director of Recruiting at Executive Staffing Solutions (ESS). She recruits for health insurance companies, managed care organizations and healthcare organizations. In 2016 she was named recruiter of the year at ESS.
John Goldener, MD, MBA, was a pediatrician, department chair, and speaker before starting his recruiting company, Goldener Executive Search Associates. Until retiring last year, he was recruiting internationally for oncology positions in pharma.
First up are some “cut-to-the-chase” tips from Ms. Bosco
Do schedule enough time for the recruiting call
Squeezing in a 5-minute call in between patients is not the way to have a “thorough” conversation of your background which is needed for a recruiter to help understand and therefore be able to align along with advocate on your behalf. We appreciate that you are very busy (so are recruiters) but if this career change is important to you, kindly invest the time to do it right.
Treat recruiters with mutual respect. Being arrogant and egotistical will not serve you well and could potentially eliminate you from being considered for a fantastic role. Remember the recruiter is vetting on the candidate’s attitude on behalf of the company as a part of assessing cultural fit. Also, the recruiter DOES recognize and value the education, time, and intelligence it takes to be a physician. In reverse, please value the education and expertise of the recruiter who is looking at thousands of resumes/CVs, and speaking with countless physicians, knowing they want to help you.
Be transparent and know your contract terms
Transparency , the entire process is essential. We have countless stories of physicians who explored a transition to the administrative side and said they had an exit plan out of their practice. However, when the offer came, the physician came back saying it now would be months to a year as they didn’t have an exit plan thought out. Review your non-competes, notification period and any penalties if the contract is broken.
Do what you can to strengthen your platform
If you are a clinician wanting to transition to the administrative side of healthcare, help yourself be a stronger candidate by participating on UM (utilization management), Quality, Peer Committees and/or getting additional experience even if that is part-time UM or Physician Advisor work. For a different non-clinical sector, find out from those already in that area what you can do to enhance your resume and candidacy.
Modify your CV or Resume
Please do not have a CV that is 50 pages long. Try and either create an “addendum” of all of the great publications, research, and studies or a business version of your resume that is a more concise summary of your experiences and background.
Maintain professionalism throughout the process
Heed the advice of your recruiter in terms of not letting down your professionalism at a lunch session as a part of an interview. We had a qualified physician in the final stages who slurped his soup and spoke negatively about his former boss during the lunch portion of the interview. This individual ended up not getting the job as a result. In terms of how to dress for an interview, please choose a conservative business suit in lieu of the normal scrubs or lab coat, even if the company is known to dress business casual.
Next I asked Dr. John Goldener to answer some specific questions about working with recruiters.
As a physician and a highly successful physician recruiter, did you find doctors to be arrogant?
The majority of doctors I worked with were great. However, there are some doctors who think that because they can do the fastest hernia repair or are a rainmaker for their hospital, that doors should just fly open for them. When a hiring manager is assessing you as a candidate, they are typically looking at three things: can you do the job, can they afford you, and do you fit in the culture?
An issue I see more of than arrogance is doctors underestimating themselves, and thinking they have no transferable skills. Can you speak to this?
Yes, I do hear doctors say, “But I’m just a doctor, I don’t know how to do anything else.” We forget that everything we know we learned at some point. It is important to identify the necessary skills to succeed in a new area and see if these are strengths for you and what you may need to do to enhance these skills. Joining a committee or being on a board is a great way to improve your communication and consensus building skills. As physicians, we are often more comfortable with one-to-one interactions and may need to learn how to share our vision in a way that gets people excited and on board.
Is it risky to contact a recruiter if you are not quite ready to leave your current position?
Be very clear that you do not want your CV sent out at this time or your practice finding out. Ask for strict confidentiality and that no one is contacted without your permission. Tell the recruiter you are exploring options and want to learn more about a specific type of job. See if he or she is open to this kind of arrangement. Some will only want to talk to you if you are ready to leave. Others will be interested in building a longer-term relationship and can be a great resource in educating you and scouting for opportunities.
Can you explain what is happening when a physician is suddenly dropped by a recruiter?
The recruiter should always stay in touch, but I know that is unfortunately not always the case. Some recruiters are throwing as many candidates as they can at a job hoping one will work out and just drop the others when the position is filled. What can also happen is that there is a bunch of candidates lined up and an offer is made to the lead candidate. It can take a number of weeks while that candidate gets a background check, a drug screen, talks to his or her spouse and attorney. There can be this intense period of radio silent when the other candidates hear nothing. A good recruiter will try to keep those other candidates in the loop, but it can drag on, especially if the top candidate backs out and they are back at square one again.
How can you help your recruiter help you?
Don’t just call up a recruiter because you’re miserable in your current job and expect them to figure it out for you. Do some self-analysis first to understand why you want change and what might be a good direction for you. Then do some research to at least get some background information in the area the recruiter works in.
Be prepared to answer commonly asked questions such as, “Why do you want to leave your job? What are your salary requirements? Are you willing to relocate? What qualifications do you have for this area? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” And if you are not the right fit for the job, recommending someone who might be will be always be appreciated.
Lastly, I asked both of my experts about a particular physician who impressed them and why.
An Internal Medicine physician went beyond the average preparation for their interview. This individual not only did the traditional preparation but took it one step further to reach out to someone in their network who was already in a similar utilization management medical director role. They asked this person what they might be able to pull out of their background in an interview. It was due to this extra effort that this physician did really well in the interview and got the job!
There was an oncologist who wanted to get into pharma. He was very organized and made a spreadsheet of the different opportunities with pluses and minuses. He knew what was important to him. He didn’t just look online to see that Glaxo Smith Kline was hiring and send in a resume. He would network and find insiders to talk to through his oncology network. He sent thank you letters to anyone who spoke with him. Before he even came to me, he was doing all of this. I was impressed by his initiative and organization.
A big thank you to Veru Bosco and Dr. John Goldener for their time and input.
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