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Working with a recruiter


What you need to know when asking for help in finding your dream job

Working with a recruiter: © -

Working with a recruiter: © -

You know you are ready for a different position, possibly in another state, but with the hours you are working, who has time to look? How will you know if the offer is fair? How will you know if the position really meets all the expectations you set?

With a booming job market, there may have never been a better time to be a doctor in search of new employment. And while you can go it alone and apply for positions you find listed on the internet or hear about from friends, working with a recruiter provides another option.

There are two types of recruiters – in-house recruiters who work directly for a health care organization or facility, and agency recruiters, who work with physicians who approach them about positions and the agency helps connect them.

“It’s two paths to the same outcome,” says Liz Mahan, director of professional development and solutions, Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR), the professional organization for in-house recruiters. “For in-house recruiters, they’re embedded in that organization’s culture, and in many cases, the culture of the community, so they have a really good sense of what it’s like to work and practice there.”

She says before making any move, think about everything you want and why you are changing positions.

“I think it’s really easy to feel burnt out, maybe some job dissatisfaction in your current role, and just start to think maybe the grass is greener, but we know that’s not always the case,” says Liz.

She says to evaluate what you want in your next practice not just for now, but what you want in the next three to five years, and how you are looking to grow professionally. Also be clear on what the must-haves are for your family. Once you define that, you might realize that only exists in certain locations or settings.

“The advice I always give is to also ask any questions about that must-have in the first conversation with the recruiter if there are things in your next job that you absolutely need – get those on the table,” says Liz. “There’s no point in continuing a conversation and getting everyone excited only to find out you are miles apart on the scope of practice.”

Leah Grant, president of AMN Healthcare’s Physician Permanent Solutions division (formerly Merritt Hawkins) says that a recruiting agency can also provide a broad picture of what is happening in the market, what you can expect compensation-wise, and what the quality of life will be, and will generally have a lot of knowledge the physician may not have access to.

It’s in the recruiter’s best interest to make sure you are happy with your new position, as they hope to keep that relationship throughout your career as your needs change.

“No matter where you are in your career, that recruiter can step in and not only educate you on what [they’re] seeing in the market, but they will really take the time to understand your needs,” says Grant.

Helen Falkner, regional vice president, recruiting, Jackson Physician Search, agrees, noting that she has seen physicians make the wrong decision because they were motivated more by the short term rather than looking at a practice from a long-term perspective.

“We don’t want to ever push a physician into a position that is not the right fit for them or their family because our goal, in an ideal world, is we want to place a doctor in a role and never have to backfill that person,” says Falkner. “We want them to be in a place where they can set [down] roots with their family and can have a career. Because we are interacting with hundreds of physicians on a daily basis and have a large portfolio of clients, from those interactions we are able to bring a new perspective to physicians to ensure that any match made is the right match.”

Once a position is identified, salary negotiations could be handled by the recruiter or may be done by the physician depending on personal preference.

A recruiter can also offer insight into salary offers that might be used simply to garner physician attention. A $500,000 bonus sounds great, but is it in an area with an extremely high cost of living? And just because that was the bonus in California, that does not mean you can expect that same level of bonus in North Carolina, for example. And those big signing bonuses will also have strings attached in the form of a commitment for several years of service – sometimes as many as five, according to Falkner.

Because the agencies are retained by the employer, all agency fees are paid by the employer – the physician does not pay anything to work with a recruiter. But if you already have a place in mind where you would like to work, don’t be afraid to reach out directly.

“I don’t know a single in-house physician recruitment professional who wouldn’t love to hear from a physician directly, even if there isn’t a specific job position open,” says Carey Goryl, CEO, AAPPR. “Use LinkedIn to search the facility name and look for position recruitment or physician recruiter. Sometimes the recruitment team is listed on the website.”

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