Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why do you dislike physician recruiters?

Since three years I teach Obstetrics and Gynecology to the residents of a Family Medicine Program in Boston. Two years ago I started giving a lecture on "How to Find Your Ideal Job" after I learned about the advantages of the direct mail method.

My present recommendation to my students is the following: Figure out where you want to live and work, buy the addresses of all docs in the target area from a list service, polish your cover letter and CV and mail it to all the doctors on your list. Or have a service like "Thedoctorjob" do it for you! I have summarized this method earlier in this blog.

After my second lecture one of the faculty members asked me: "Why are you so negative about recruiters?” Here is the answer…. Well, it was a long learning process over years, with not just a few, but many dozens of big and small bad experiences and big and small disappointments. And when I looked at the balance between the good experiences, which I can count on one hand and the hundreds of bad experiences, my sentiments will be easy to understand.

I started out with a great attitude towards recruiters, and with great hope. Here are these people that "hundreds", no "thousands of jobs nationwide", that have "the best jobs", that "personalize a search for you", that can find "The perfect practice for you" and so on.
I was living in Boston and wanted to stay there. And with Boston I meant really Boston, inside the I-95 ring. So I sent my CV to more and more recruiters but strangely, even the recruiters that advertised jobs where you can "Enjoy all Boston has to offer" "Boston suburbs" etc did not have jobs within the I-95 ring. The "Boston suburbs" turned out to be very creative defined, since it was Methuen, Framingham, Worcester, Plymouth etc. Not my exact definition of suburb. Driving distances in ads were routinely understated; places "30 minutes from the city" always were an hour away. Would that have something to do with the fact that none of the recruiters turned out to be familiar with Boston?
Oh, and then there actually was a job IN Boston, and I rushed to find out what it was. Obstetrics only, and underpaid. At the time the usual starting salary was 150-160, this employer offered 120. This was the first of many, many experiences that later let me conclude that "within-city-limits" jobs coming through recruiters had serious flaws.

Recruiter jobs were never great, there was always something off, and the jobs always seemed to have a flaw, some drawback, not just in location. When going out from the inner city there is a distance where my comfort zone ends. And that was usually the area where the recruiter jobs started! I wondered why...And I grew more and more cynical when reading the oh-so-promising ads!

A few years later I went on another job search, and this time it lasted over 4 years. I wanted a position in (gasp!) Miami. I found Physicianwork, registered and again was very excited and hopeful – over 75 jobs in Florida! There had to be something in Miami among them! For starters, it is very frustrating to guess where jobs are, the typical recruiter jobs are cryptic and vague. I understand the reasons for this very well, the location of the job and name of the employer is the only chip a recruiter has! But it is still frustrating. I would have liked to screen the jobs by location and salary – and that is exactly what they never tell you. Pathetic! The clouded salary may not all be the recruiter’s fault, but they usually do not nudge the employers enough to post a salary range. I sometimes suspect they are afraid to “lock themselves in” by mentioning a salary range. Or maybe it is not “good to talk about money” or “nobody should know what you earn”, since it is “private”. All nonsense.
I also found out while searching on Physicianwork, that many jobs are listed multiple times by multiple recruiters and recruiting companies. Great…
And the same frustrating game started all over again. “Oh, no I do not have anything in Miami”, But what about Lakeland, and Tampa, and Jacksonville, and the panhandle and, and, and. Lots of jobs, just not where I wanted one.
Then I listed myself in Physicianwork as looking “strictly in Miami, nowhere else”, not Fort Lauderdale, not Naples, not Orlando, no Tampa. After all, I have family in Miami…

This did not deter recruiters from sending me literally countless emails advertising jobs in Florida – anywhere in Florida, except where I wanted one. It started to sound like Miami was the new Boston. The jobs all started where my comfort zone ended.

And apparently none of the many, many recruiters that sent me emails responding to my profile that said “Miami only” obviously had read my profile or – hey maybe they did not care?! I now believe they do not read the profiles, but just collect the addresses and send out the emails hoping I might change my mind, or hoping they can sell me something else. They actually act very much like spammers.

Sometimes the spamming style emails were pretty crass. I had just spoken to a recruiter in person and explained that I was looking really only in Miami, sorry, really nowhere else…and to my surprise next day I get an email about a remote California location (“home of the California puppy”, of course far away from the action, “a short drive” of 75 miles from LA). It really makes you wonder – what is it? Did the recruiters not hear me? Did they not care? Did they not take me seriously?
Sometimes I think what would happen if I treated my patients that way – “Dear Mrs Jones, I don’t care if you just want the pill, here, read this leaflet on hysterectomy”

And then, I started answering my emails with: “Thank you for contacting me, but I am searching exclusively in Miami”. Bam, I get the “Miami area” emails, ads and job postings. The “Miami area” suddenly seemed to stretch from the Keys to West Palm Beach. What kind of map are these people looking at? What are their concepts of distance? Do they ever commute? One excited recruiter told me that I could live in Miami, but work slightly north of Fort Lauderdale. Another one who has never been on I 95 in rush hour…

Then I started to add one more sentence to my answer to all those recruiter emails:
“I am only interested in Miami, and only in a practice that has a phone number starting with the area code 305” Aaaahhhh, that usually worked, and it even brought me a grin and chuckles from a recruiter during a phone call. He seemed to understand exactly why I was saying it. At least now the number of email about Naples and Orlando went down.

Quite a few times I got the answer “I do not have anything in Miami at this time, but I’ll call my clients I that area to see if they have something” Oh, yeah, buddy. And, sure enough, none of these “clients” ever had anything – just what I had suspected to begin with.

And now, here is the outstanding, rare, single, amazing experience with a recruiter – an actual, true and honest answer: “If you want to work to find a job in Miami, you have to call the practices yourself, one by one. And if it does not work the first time, then try again in three months”. I was blown away, a recruiter that actually does not try to convince me that Podunk is better, but gives me a tip how to land a job in the city I want.
This, my dear readers, happened only once, one single time, on one lonely occasion, one remarkable afternoon, in several years of searching, after literally thousands of emails and several dozens of calls and telephone conversations! The truth! The first true tip from human being to human being, no salesmanship. It happened ONCE.

Do you begin to understand why I do not like recruiters?

You cannot believe how many emails I received and still receive about jobs from West Virginia to North Carolina to Indiana and Idaho, even jobs in other fields of medicine like anesthesia and pediatrics! The recruiters who are sending me these emails really read my profiles, my registrations and my emails well!
And all this fits in so perfectly with one of their marketing slogans “we personalize your job search”. Sure, it was really, really personal – Idaho instead of Miami!

By now I believe that recruiters just do not care. They sell, sell, sell, and they go for volume, and they go for the numbers. The more emails they send out, the more people they contact, the more chances they may have to sell one of their jobs. They may think, oh well that email was a little off, but who cares…That is why they remind me of used car salesmen and telemarketers. The ads are just the nice marketing face. By now, I do not believe a word. They sell, that’s it. And they do not care if you find the job you want or if your career is delayed for that matter. I wish I had known from the start.

And then, I found “” They explained what they do – direct mass mailing. They have a very informative website. After reading the info on their website, suddenly the behavior of recruiters made sense and it became clear why they did not have the jobs I wanted – and why they never will!

I tried the direct mail myself, and it worked like a charm. One mailing and I had seven interviews and three job offers. In a city that was “oversaturated”, where there were “no jobs”. Later I tried mass faxing with the same success. And mailing and faxing is so easy, the lists are readily available on the Internet, there are services that review and improve your cover letter and CV and ….of course there is “” that offers all this in one neat package for a very reasonable price.
And, no, I am not related, I am not part of the company, they do not pay me (I wish), I am not on commission, nothing – I just love the idea, the method and above all the results.

Dear reader, if you like what I wrote, please spread the word. Save your colleagues and friends the frustration I had to go through. Do them a favor, tell them about “” and show them my blog with the description of the method.

The function of the physician recruiters is to fill the less desirable jobs – but they won’t tell you that! Stay away from them!

1 comment:

Dave Freireich said...

Warning: I am a recruiter! However, I do not recruit physicians.

My firm is based on the premise that our customers (candidates) are not interested in being treated the way you have been. I have witnessed all the tactics you describe and then some and agree that they are stupid. I learned three very powerful words from some of the top recruiters in the US- "don't sell, facilitate." This has become our mantra.

I'm sorry for the frustration and disappointment you've gone through. I hope now you've learned the game you can continue to educate others. Also I think you should start a physician recruiting firm that is run to treat people the way you would have wanted to be treated. You have identified the need. Contact me if you want to discuss.