How to Work with a Recruiter

Craig A. Fowler
PhysicianCareer.com Staff Writer

In today’s extremely competitive marketplace, hospitals and physician groups are using every resource they can to locate and attract the most qualified physicians to their practice. Therefore, physicians are overwhelmed with emails, phone calls, and direct mail solicitations describing the perfect job opportunity. How do you make sense of all of this, and how do you know what is real and what is at best a gross exaggeration?

In this article, we are going to review how best to work with your physician recruiter. For starters, lets outline the different types of recruiters. In the physician recruitment space, most recruiters fall into one of 3 camps: retained, contingent and in-house. In short, the retained recruiter typically works for a larger firm. The firm charges a retainer and/or monthly fees to the client in return for dedicated services to that client (hospital/physician group) in locating viable candidates to fill the specific opening that they have hired that retained firm to fill. The contingent recruiter may work for a large firm or may be a smaller home based business. Contingent recruiters search on behalf of the client for a fee, paid at the end of the search. The big financial difference is that the contingent recruiter does not receive any money until the search is filled. The in-house recruiter represents a specific hospital or hospital system, is usually an employee of the facility and may outsource his/her openings to the types of firms mentioned above.

When speaking with a recruiter, do yourself a favor and ask them if they have ever visited the location that they are recruiting for? If they have not, ask them how long they have been involved in recruiting for this facility. These type of questions will give you insight into the recruiters familiarity with the opportunity being presented.

Some recruiters will be involved throughout the entire interview process even through signing the employment agreement, others may be little more than travel agents. Regardless of the type of recruiter that you choose to work with, you should NEVER be expected to pay a fee. In some cases you, as the candidate, may be asked to pay for travel expenses and then be reimbursed for those expenses. This is not entirely uncommon. Some hospitals do this to guard against last minute cancellations, and being stuck with large expenses such as unused airline tickets.

Communication is key regardless of the type of recruiter that you end up working with. It is important that the recruiter knows your needs/wants. Your conversations with your recruiter should be a two-way conversation. They should be learning as much about you and your wants/needs as you are learning about the opportunity(ies) that they are representing. Sharing your desires is in your best interest as well, as they may have (or their firm may have) opportunities other than what they are currently representing that could be a good fit. The recruiter will not know to share the other positions with you unless they know what you are in need of.

Another important point is to be transparent as it relates to your background. Little will make you look worse in the eyes of a recruiter or a future employer than some issue coming out of left field which makes you ineligible for the position. Being transparent to your recruiter regarding any background issues is in your best interest because your recruiter can oftentimes help you position yourself in the most favorable light. He/she knows what the hiring authority will find to be problematic and what is a minor blemish. Documentation of any issues goes a long way. Background issues that need documentation include: malpractice cases, substance abuse treatment, licensing or hospital credentialing problems, etc. When in doubt, ask your recruiter. It is important to remember, getting an offer is in yours and the recruiter’s best interest. Once you get the offer, you are in control. You can accept it or decline it; but it is your choice!

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