The job search is rarely easy, and there are times you might wish you had someone to help you unearth opportunities and make connections. Enter the professional recruiter. While using a physician recruiter certainly comes with advantages, it's not without a few drawbacks and limitations, too.
Recruiters specializing in physician job placement may contact you to get your information or to tell you about an available position, or you might decide to reach out to one on your own initiative. The key to getting the most out of your interactions with physician recruiters is to know exactly what you want to gain by working with them rather than depending on them to take care of every step for you.
Prepare to be contacted by physician recruiters
It's not uncommon to receive phone calls and emails from recruiters beginning as early as your final year of residency. Most of the time, they're looking to build their list of contacts so they will be able to quickly connect with as many candidates as possible when they are hired to find a physician for a client. If you share your information with a recruiter, you will periodically receive phone calls and/or emails with job listings, some of which may suit you and some that won't.
Other times, recruiters will get in touch with you to let you know about a job they have been hired to fill. This can happen even if you've never connected before. In most cases, recruiters are pretty straightforward about why they're contacting you. You can always decide to respond or decline, depending on your interest and needs at a given time. Keep in mind that even when you aren't looking for a job, it may be beneficial to ask about the details so you can learn more about what's out there in your specialty.
Decide what you can gain from a physician recruiter
There are a number of advantages to working with a recruiter, and you can get the most out of the working relationship by planning ahead.
One benefit is that you may be able to receive honest feedback about your candidacy for the type of position you're seeking when they look at your resume. Ask candid questions about how you stack up in comparison to other candidates.
You might also gain some insight into job availability and income expectations. You can talk to a recruiter to gauge the dynamics and competitiveness in the region where you're looking to find a job.
When you talk with a recruiter, you may find the job you are looking for, but you aren't obligated to follow through with jobs that they present to you. It's perfectly fine to find another position on your own or through another method.
Recruiters may provide you with objective data that your peers might overlook or might not have access to, such as the patient population and the number of competing provider groups in the area.
Know the pitfalls of working with a physician recruiter
While recruiters may bring objectivity, they may not have the ability to judge things such as a bad workplace or an unfair physician arrangement. Keep in mind that most recruiters aren't intimate with the day-to-day work life of a physician, and they won't be able to assess things like physician work-life balance.
At the same time, recruiters aren't obligated to work with you or for you. As Clinical Nuclear Medicine notes, some recruiters may be more interested in making a commission from their paying client — the hospital or physician group — than in finding the best job match for you.
Sometimes physicians feel they're victims of a bait and switch: They're led to believe that a recruiter is filling a job, only to be told after giving their information to a recruiter that there is no job or that the position is far undercompensated. Stories like this are not common; use your peers' experience to help avoid headaches.
Own the negotiation process
Some positions placed by recruiters include a clause stipulating that the recruiter be involved in presenting the final contract and/or relaying employment details. If this is the case for you, be sure to raise every question and concern you have so that you don't leave any issues unresolved before accepting a position. According to research published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, some doctors — especially women — are less likely to negotiate for a fair salary. Make sure you don't fall into this trap when negotiating with a potential employer, a future partner or a recruiter.