Monday, February 21, 2011

Looking for a physician job? Run if you hear these trigger words

Dear fellow physicians: If you are searching for a job, you are aware of the importance and power of words. Words can be powerful or devastating, the choice of words is often very revealing.
During your job search you may encounter certain words and expressions that should raise a flag and should trigger an immediate termination of a conversation about a position. These trigger words should also make you move on if you read them in a magazine or online ad.
What words are we talking about?

When you hear these words - run!

1. "opportunity", used to label positions or physician jobs. Typically used by salespeople that are neither potential employers nor colleagues. If you hear or read "opportunity" you are dealing with a middleman, and by nature of their training (if any) and experience they have not "walked in your shoes", they are not your colleagues, they do not feel for you. And this is an "opportunity" for THEM - an "opportunity" to make money off of - you. Physician recruiters are only hired when a job is hard to fill. The more drawbacks a job has, the more likely a salesperson will be needed to fill it! Have you ever seen recruiters advertising "Office in San Francisco/LA/Manhattan/Boston with harbor view and above average pay"? Why not? Those jobs are gone even before anybody ever places any ad in a magazine...Have you seen salespeople recruit for Harvard faculty position? When you hear "opportunity", a salesperson had to be hired at significant cost to sell you a left-over job! You know that recruiters receive 30,000 plus for a signed job contract. That is the "opportunity". Remember, employers have positions, salespeople hawk "opportunities". If you hear that word - Run!

2. "easy access to..." common sales euphemism that is slipped in to cover up a remote, unattractive location - usually 1-3 hours from where you want to be. An undesirable location is a common reason to have to hire help. Salespeople fudge over the fact that a location is unattractive by using vague, and positive sounding terms such as "easy access". This trigger word is usually accompanied by colorful description of supposedly available "culture" and "communities bursting with activity". Visiting just a few of these "easy access" communities will clarify the term and allow you to understand that "easy access" is a variation of "fly-over country". And remember, it is not the recruiter's fault that he or she has to sell this job, because those are the only jobs they get!

3. "low crime rate, affordable housing" "plenty of outdoor (sic!) recreational activities" are equally euphemisms for remote, unexciting locations. Ever heard of "affordable housing" on the shore in San Diego, Miami or Boston? I prefer to be in a more expensive housing area, and usually those areas just happen to come with low crime rates. In areas advertised by salespeople, sadly, the crime rate is usually low because there is nothing left to steal. And when everybody knows everybody else, the crime rate is naturally low...
Another often used term that should stop you in your tracks is "family oriented community". In those communities family is really the sole and exclusive focus of activity, since there is...really, really nothing else to do. You have 5 stores, 4 restaurants including all diners, 3 movie theaters and 2 hours of car travel along the 1 road that leads out of town to the city where you originally wanted to work. Should the ad mention "hunting and fishing", then the moose population is generally larger than the human population.

4. "This area is oversaturated" or "There are no jobs in this area". Immediately end contact to any person that utters these words! Seriously. "Oversaturated" means "nobody is willing to fork over $ 30,000 to have a job filled". A classic sign of an attractive area, where jobs are not advertised, but handed over without magazine ads, online ads and especially without involvement of recruiters. The more attractive a job is, the less likely it will come through a recruiter - the first law of job search. Of course there are jobs in those areas - actually there are a ton of people working in Boston, New York, Washington, San Francisco etc. And they change jobs as often as anywhere else!
You can easily find a position in any "oversaturated" - meaning attractive area by direct mail. You write your cover letter, CV, mailmerge the addresses of all physicians in your target area with the cover letter. For every 100 letters you send out you will receive 2 interested answers. Contact information of physcicians is readily available at and similar websites that sell physician contact info. You can download the excel or CSV list within seconds after paying with your credit card.

THAT is the real way to find a job! Or you can click over to "The Doctor" and have them do all that for you - for a fee of course. Might be worth it.
And do not forget to check the website of, where you will find job ads by actual employers - real people that are willing to employ you and that post their actual correct and complete address and telephone number as well as an email address!


Barb said...

I must ask who actually wrote this article? My guess is it was written by someone at PracticeMatch as that is really the only identifiable reference made.

I take exception to this writer's advice. I am an in-house recruiter and all of my (1) "opportunities" offer (2) "easy access" to Chicago, and (3)"affordable housing" and excellent "outdoor activities."

What this means to our 100+ employed physicians and any candidates smart enough to interview with us is: We offer an excellent "opportunity" to join a dynamic group of growth-oriented, physician-led colleagues - which is not job a "job." Our family-oriented community offers "easy access" to Chicago, but you don't have to drive an hour through congested traffic to get everywhere, but you can be in the city within 1.5 hours. Finally, we are proud of our "affordable housing" which means a house here will be 50% less than in the city, and yes, it is an exceptional place to raise a family with yards, and parks, and lots of other families.

Perhaps this writer should follow his/her own advice and "post their actual correct and complete address and telephone number as well as an email address!"

ObGynThoughts said...

Ha, it's always the wrong people who get upset...As an in-house recruiter you know your industry and you know who uses and abuses these terms. You know who advertises with slight "modifications of the truth" and I have enough concrete examles in my blog since 2006 to bore you to death.
By the way, I am not oppsoed to in-house recruiters at all, since you tend not to misrepresent you positions - you cannot and you do not have to. All this is mstly third party or contingency recruiters. I am not affiliated nor associated with practicematch, I simply like their approach and business model - the same goes for
I am a physician who is very upset at far too common practices in the recruitment world to fudge over the drawbacks of positions, to paint rosy pictures and to place marketing and sales far above service to physians. And I am upset because it happend to me. This is not theory, this is experience.

Anonymous said...

I used the "" and did not have a positive experience. One can simply purchase a list of hospital admins from another source and paste your CV everywhere if that's how you want to look for a position. It actually turns a lot of Hospital Execs off, because they can tell you are simply "blasting" your CV out there without any knowledge or connection to their facility. It just doesn't look very professional. Again, that's just my opinion.

I have used both personal referrals and sometimes agencies to find both permanent and locums opportunities. And I've had equal success with both. And the notion that you get "more money" by going direct simply isn't true. If I approached a facility directly, it's not like they are going to raise my salary by 15-20k simply b/c I didn't come from an outside source....I've never seen that happen.

I think personal referral is the best way to go myself, followed by talking to a professional recruiter a distant second.

ObGynThoughts said...

HI, Anonymous
You may not always have a good experience with a service that distributes your CV. I am not related or affiliated with "The Doctor Job" I just really like their method.
Yes, you can purchase a list of hospitals admins and mail your CV to them, but that is a grave mistake, unless you are applying as a hospitalist. Why in the world would you ask the hospital for a job?
Your CV should go to physicians that may employ you. Even hospital employed physicians are a better target than hospital administrators.
I recommend buying a list of physicians (!) and mailing the letter to each and every physician in your specialty and in the area where you want to work.
You mention that "they can tell you are simply blasting" your CV. If so, then you must have made an error. The art lies in wording your letter and CV so that it appears personal. This is very possible. I did just that by using a letter writing service and then copying and mailing some 400 letters myself. Exactly 2% response, as expected for "cold mailing". This response rate seems to be standard, no matter what you mail, a flyer about weed remover or a CV....Strange, but true.
Or maybe your printing was not good and the address and the Dear Dr..... was recognizable as "blasted". That was a mistake in printing and mailing the letter.
Done correctly it looks extremely professional, or as professional as you make it. No ifs and buts.
It is surprising that you mention that it "turns hospital administrators off". Why would anybody be turned off by an application from a job seeker? How did you know or find out that it turns a hospital administrator off? Did anybody call you, and if so, how many? If one out of 200 gets upset, so be it. Can't make everybody happy.
BTW, recruiters send annoying letters, emails, flyers etc to hospitals all the time, repeatedly. Maybe that turned the admisntrators off.
Nobody gets upset by a physician looking for a job. Nobody.
Any employer would either ignore or politely reply "we have no open positions" -at least in my world of medicine. I do not know where you applied nd how, but I can only assume that you did it in a way that has potential for improvement.
You are correct, I do not think you get more money by applying without a recruiter.
The main issue with recruiters is the following:
recruiters sell the left over jobs. Good jobs are filled through the network and through direct mail, if you happen to mail at the right time. It's all in the timing. Recruiters, though, always come with a handicap....Why would anybody hire a recruiter for a position that is desirable and easy to fill?
Remember the Munford Law of physician job search:
The more drawbacks a job has, the more likely it will be presented through a recruiter.
It's the law...

Melissa said...

Whether you are dealing with a recruiter, or doing something direct, you are responsible for finding out what the "opportunity" is. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Anonymous said...


I read the article and I appreciate your thoughts, ObGyn.

I am from Dubai and I have been trying to fill the following positions:
1. Specialist Obstetrics and Gynecology
2. Specialist Neurology
3. Specialist Anesthesia
4. Specialist Histopathology
5. Accident and Emergency Specialist
6. Internal Medicine

The packages for these positions are great and well, this is in Dubai. Nothing compared to the US, maybe, but living in Dubai has its perks. Tax free salary, nice living environment, etc.

Now, the point I am trying to make here is that while other recruiters may have misused the word "opportunity", there are still some of us left who actually still use the word in its fullest sense. So when I say excellent Physician Opportunities in Dubai, UAE, I mean it. Attractive basic salary + allowances (accommodation, transportation, medical insurance, airline tickets, education allowance, etc). But as I've said, not too many people are willing to forego their established practice and move to sunny Dubai.

I have subscribed to many portals and sad to say, I get very few responses. One of the proven ways to have someone interested is actually thru posting - and to catch someone's attention, we use certain words. And no, you dont have to run unnecessarily when you hear the word opportunity..

remi said...

thank you so much for posting your thoughts on this blog. I recently graduated from residency and relocated to the dallas/FT worth area and have been utilizing nothing but job search engines and recruiters without any successful job matches....everything you've said hits home--its scary. Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts experience and advice. I wish I could have learned about this sooner.

ObGynThoughts said...

How may I contact you about the positions in DUBAI?