I teach Obstetrics and Gynecology to the residents of a Family Medicine Program in Boston. This includes a lecture on "How to Find Your Ideal Job" that explains the dramatic advantages of the direct mail method for a job searching physician and outlines the drawbacks of working with physician recruiters.
A faculty members asked me why I was opposed to recruiters. Here is the answer: It was a long learning process over years, with many dozens of big and small bad experiences and big and small disappointments. In the end, I could count the good experiences on one hand and the bad experiences and disappointments were in the hundreds.
I started out with enthusiasm about recruiters, and with great hope. Here are these people that have "hundreds" or "thousands of jobs nationwide", that have "the best jobs", that "personalize a search for you", that routinely find "the perfect practice for you". Great! Call seversal recruiters, get a great job and start working!
It turned out quite different. I had graduated from one of the large Boston teaching hospitals and wanted to stay locally. And with "locally" I meant really Boston, specifically inside the I-95 ring. So I sent my CV to recruiter after recruiter, but strangely, such a job did not seem to exist. Even the recruiters that advertised jobs with "Enjoy all Boston has to offer" live and work in "the Boston suburbs" never had jobs within the I-95 ring. To my dismay, recruiters defined the "Boston suburbs" very creatively and differently than I did. The suburbs suddenly turned out to be Methuen, Lowell, Lawrence, Framingham, Worcester, Plymouth etc. Driving distances in ads were routinely understated; places advertised as "only 30 minutes from the city" always were an hour away.
Then, after a while, 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. A number of similar experiences later let me conclude that "within-city-limits" jobs coming through recruiters had serious flaws.
I realized in time that recruiter jobs were never "just great", there was always something off, the jobs always seemed to have a flaw, some drawback, concerning location or otherwise. My comfort zone in terms of location ended before the "recruiter area" started! 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 Miami. Again, not outside of Miami, no, IN Miami.
On the internet I found Physicianwork.com, a website chockfull with recruiter ads, registered and up went my hopes again – over 75 jobs in Florida! There had to be something in Miami among them! For starters, the typical recruiter job descriptions are short, cryptic and vague. I understand the reasons for this very well, but it is still frustrating. I screen jobs by location and salary – and that is exactly what they never, ever tell you. I also was surprised to find that many jobs are listed multiple times by multiple recruiters. Great…
And the same frustrating game started all over again. “Oh, no I do not have anything in Miami”, "But what about Lakeland, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and the panhandle and, and, and". Lots of jobs, just never where I wanted one.
I adapted and listed myself on the Internet as looking “strictly in Miami, nowhere else”, "not Fort Lauderdale, not Naples, not Orlando, not Tampa". After all, I have family in Miami…
Do you think any of the recruiters cared about what I wrote in my profile? Not at all. I received literally countless emails advertising jobs in Florida – anywhere in Florida, except in Miami. It started to sound like Miami was the new Boston.
Sometimes I felt spammed by recruiters. 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. Did that recruiters not hear me? Did he not care? Or did he simply not take me seriously? Did he think I would change my mind that easily?
What would happen if I treated my patients that way – “Dear Mrs Jones, I don’t care if you just want the birth control pill, here, read this leaflet on hysterectomy, let's schedule it”
I adapted again and started answering my emails with: “Thank you for contacting me, but I am searching exclusively in Miami”.
Bam, now I got the “Miami AREA” emails and ads. The “Miami area” 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 and eager recruiter told me that I could live in Miami, but "commute to work just slightly north of Fort Lauderdale". She obviously had never, 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”. Now THAT usually worked. One recruiter audibly chuckled on the phone. He seemed to understand exactly why I was saying it. At least now the number of emails about Naples and Orlando dropped somewhat.
I loved the following 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! I am still waiting today for those call-backs.
And now, here is the outstanding, rare, single, amazing experience with a recruiter – an actual, true and honest answer: “I don't have jobs there. If you want 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 Backwater, FL is a great place to live and raise a family, but that instead gives me a tip how to land a job in the city I want.
This happened only once, one single time, on one lonely occasion, on one remarkable afternoon, in several YEARS of searching, after literally hundreds of emails and telephone conversations! The first honest and true tip from a recruiter, advice from one human being to another human being - no salesmanship. It happened only ONCE.
Do you begin to understand why I do not like recruiters?
You would not believe how many emails I received 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 seemingly could care less about my profile and my registration information.
Do you understand why I cringe when I read recruiters advertise “we personalize a job search for you”. Idaho instead of Miami, really personalized, great job!
I now believe that most contingency recruiters just do not care. They sell, sell, sell and sell some more. They go for volume, they go for the numbers. The more emails they send out, the more people they contact, the more chances they may have to get an answer and sell one of their jobs. That is why they remind me of used car salesmen and telemarketers. Their ads are just the nice marketing face, and you have to read them with upmost suspicion.
But then, when I was starting to believe that good jobs where I wanted them, were just not available, then I found “Thedoctorjob.com” They explained how direct mailing works and how it is superior to any other search method. After reading through their website, the behavior of recruiters suddenly made sense and it became completely 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. And that in a city that - according to recruiters - was “oversaturated”, where there were “no jobs”. Months later I tried mass faxing with the same success. And mailing is 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 “Thedoctorjob.com” that offers all this in one neat package for a very reasonable price.
And, no, I am not related to any of the folks at TheDoctorJob.com, I am not part of the company, they do not pay me, I am not on commission. I just love the idea, the method and above all - the results.