While searching for a new job might cause some physicians' stomachs to do backflips, there are tried and true ways to master the job hunt without feeling intimidated. No matter what, it's never too early to start planning your next steps if you know that where you are is no longer a good fit. Because it could take a good four to six months to find out what you want and then land a position, you'll want to get started right away.
Here are our favorite tips in three categories: preparing for your job search, the interview process, and navigating your job offers.
Preparing for Your Search
Create a priorities list. What do you value, and in what order? If you want to teach residents and be a part of a research facility, this will be one of your "must haves." What market are you interested in? "Nice-to-haves" are important too. Decide what order is critical for salary, location, and work-life balance. Start off trying to check all your boxes but be prepared to readjust later on down the road if need be. You may not be able to obtain all the criteria right out of the gate, but it's important to try.
Gauge your practice style. What type of practice best fits your long-term career goals? Physicians with an entrepreneurial disposition may consider joining a small practice over a large hospital facility.
Be tenacious. Remember that most of the people making the hiring decisions are doctors and not typical "business people," so they may not respond to emails as regularly as someone who works in a traditional office setting would. Be persistent. If they aren't interested, they will let you know. Don't think twice about checking back in with hiring managers and recruiters. Keep sending emails and making follow-up calls.
Consider location. If you plan on practicing in another state, apply early for medical licensure since the process may take several weeks.
Get out there. Talk to as many people as you can. Network to find connections. With the completion of medical school and residency, you'll have a firm network of colleagues and mentors. Everyone starts off in the same boat; many people will go out of their way to help if you ask. Tap into your alumni community. If there is someone who can vouch for you or send you a referral link, ask. Now is the time to use your resources so you can stand out.
Consider cold calling. Sure, it can be awkward, but don't underestimate the power of a cold call. If there's a facility you want to work at, reach out to their hiring manager or HR representative. Put your name out as someone interested. You never know who is considering adding a new physician. A lot of job hunting comes down to good timing.
Update your paperwork. There's nothing worse than finding the job you want to apply for but then having to scramble to update your resume. Mistakes happen with you're in a rush. Instead, get everything in order before you start looking. That means polishing up your resume/CV and cover letter and checking with your references to make sure their contact info is accurate, and if they're still open to referring you. (It's always polite to let people know ahead of time when you expect a company may be reaching out.)
Do include the following on your resume/CVs:
- Any published works Research and innovation activity
- Valuable work experience that demonstrates that you're a hardworking team player
The Interview Process
Put on your detective hat. Research as much as possible ahead of time. Try to find out everything you can about a facility. What are their staff retention rates? How satisfied are their employees? Your research shows your interest and will help your interview to run smoothly.
Accept that you don't know everything. While med school and residency have prepared you with an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, there's still a steep learning curve ahead. In some cases, responding to questions in a curious fashion may get you further than being a showoff.
Ask questions. Have a handful of thoughtful queries ready-to-go for each meeting ranging from big to small. Some examples: What's the typical day like for this position at this facility? What is the company culture like? How does this company help aid in a healthy work/life balance? What is the review process like once a new physician is brought on board?
Navigating Your Job Offers
Do your homework. When it's time to negotiate your salary, take into account the cost of living for that particular neighborhood. Some cities are considerably more expensive than others; think New York City vs. Des Moines. If the initial offer looks great, crunch the numbers to account for taxes, housing, utilities, etc.
Test the waters. If you're on the fence, scheduling a site visit or asking to shadow for a day may help you decide. Most likely, by the end of the visit, you'll have a gut feeling which way to go.
Play nice. When the offers do start rolling in, know the hunt isn't over yet. Revisit your priorities list to make sure it's in alignment with the offer you received. If flexible hours are top of list but not immediately on the table, ask if it's possible to work a flex schedule. If the location is more expensive to live in than other areas, ask if there is a signing bonus or wiggle room in the salary to compensate for the higher cost of living.
Article Originally Published on ACOG Career Connection