Saturday, February 18, 2012

A classic recruiter attitude towards criticism

In 2007 I posted "Avoid physician recruiters", a blog post where I summarized my bad experiences with recruiters.

Now, 5 years later, someone came across that blog post and sent in the following comment. I am posting it here, because it is a great example of how recruiters think. And it is worth going into the flaws of that attitude:

"Anonymous" comments are in " "- and my comments follow without quotation marks....

Anonymous wrote:

"Your points are only valid dealing with recruiters who are very unprofessional and have no idea what they are doing."

Which makes up the vast majority of the about 150 or so recruiters I have personally dealt with. It is quite a convenient way of escaping criticism to simply say - the others are bad, but this does not apply to me, I am one of the good ones! A variant of this is "of course there are bad apples among the recruiters, as in any other field", usually followed by "but not too many".....
Very strangely, those "good recruiters" only seemed to surface after I posted my bad experiences. Before posting my complaints, the good recruiters were remarkably absent. You know, had I found the job I wanted without all the misleading ads and all that BS that got me so upset, I actually would have been happy and I would have never posted any bad experiences on my blog. Doesn't that make sense? Where were all the "good recruiters" when I was trying to find a job?

"If done correctly we recruiters find jobs that are off the radar - nobody else has these jobs."

This is hilarious!
Recruiters finding jobs that are off the radar....It is hard to believe that recruiters have so little inside in the job finding process that they actually dare to say this. Dear Anonymous, I challenge you to tell me HOW you find jobs that are "off the radar". I would be most interested in your definition of "off the radar" and in your way of finding them.

And here is the executive summary about job finding - for my physician colleagues:

1. The best jobs are passed on among people who know each other personally or have a close working relationship to each other. I hear from a friend over a beer at night that at a hospital nearby, closer to town and near the water a colleague is relocating to another state. Next day I call the chairman and get the job. Another way this may work is that the chairman announces a future vacancy and calls around or announces the position to the graduating residents and / or fellows. The really good jobs are actively pursued by physicians and passed on by word of mouth.
Think Harvard system jobs, close to downtown jobs, jobs in generally very desirable areas.

2. The OK jobs are not snapped up immediately by active physicians that monitor certain hospitals or employers, but require either a longer time in "spreading the word" or even ads in throw away magazines such as "OBGmanagement" or similar. For the employer, this is still an inexpensive option, these ads cost thousand to a few thousand and are usually effective in reaching enough candidates to fill the position. These jobs often are located at the edge or beyond the suburbs of larger cities or have some other drawback, such as lower pay, higher call etc. Recruiters that monitor the throwaway journals find them and often try to present their candidates to these employers. Obvioulsy these jobs are anything but "off the radar".

3. Hard to sell jobs. The community hospital in Desert Gulch, despite being in several "Top Hundred" hospital lists (aren't they all....) consistently has difficulties luring young physicians into their remote location. They are the classic client for recruiters. I have multiple posts on my blog that poke fun at the euphemisms that recruiters routinely use to fudge over undesirable locations, oh the ways they oriented, easy access to, plenty of outdoor recreation, affordable real estate, low crime rate and many more...
Maybe these are the job that "Anonymous" refers to. Yes, these jobs are most certainly "off the radar" for most physicians...and yes, they always are offered through recruiters.

The Munford law applies: The more desirable a job is, the less likely it will be presented by a recruiter. And of course, the inverse is true as well. The less desirable a job is, the more likely it will be presented by a recruiter!

And, yet again, for the n-th time, my definition of what physician recruiters do:
"Physician recruiters specialize in selling the undesirable, left-over jobs that are too hard to fill for the employers - to unsuspecting physicians"

But, back to the comments of "Anonymous"
"We suggest NOT posting any CV online in order to avoid unwanted harrassment and the perception of desperation."

Huh? Who suggests posting CVs online? Most certainly not me. Try to find that recommendation in my blog. Maybe Anonymos did not read much of my blog?

"I only involve myself as much as my candidate wants me to involve myself."

That I do understand, more than that would be pushy and would not get you anywhere....duh.

"My wife is a physician and so are all my friends at Harvard."

Ahaaa! Anonymous has credentials! Many "friends at Harvard". Good going! From now on, we should believe and trust this Anonymous, right? He has friends in high places!
Did I mention that I trained at a Harvard hospital myself? As a physician...?

"I NEVER suggest only using me.. I always help them to apply to groups that won't use recruiters and explain how to get their CV to the decision maker."

Oh, one of the few recruiters that I unfortunately never met. No recruiter has ever offered me such a great deal. No recruiter ever introduced me to groups that do not work with recruiters. Again - all these statements about helping physicians in unconventional ways only surfaced AFTER I started blogging about it. Strange, very strange indeed....

"You really should not make suggestions about ALL recruiters as if they are the same. I feel bad for you because your experience with recruiting is obviously not favorable."

We commented on that before...

"Most likely you are not a physician because if you were you would be entirely too busy, as most GOOD physicians are, to do your own busy work to find great opportunities."

Well, well, well....after preparing the field by slipping in the "all my friends at Harvard", here comes the kill shot - I am most likely NOT a physician!
That caught me by surprise, because last time I checked, and that was yesterday, my MD ID was still in my wallett, my board certification was uptodate, my graduation certificate from a Harvard hospital was still on the office wall...and, ah, what is the title of this blog? Care to notice? It reads "A Physician on...."
But, Anonymous backs it up, he has a very good reason for suspecting that I am not an MD! Wait, wait, wait, he is not done....
Anonymous thinks that "GOOD physicians" (sic!) are "entirely too busy" "to do their own busy work to find great opportunities" (notice the busy..busy in the same sentence?)
Now the cat is out of the bag - I am not a GOOD physician! Damn, that 5 star rating on the web must be an error...And the fact that I have not been sued must be an error as well...
Nice try though...

A basic truth in lfe is that efficient and successful individuals actually do have a lot of time. The inefficient ones don't. Another issue is where you place your priorities, and finding the right place to work was certainly a high priority for me.
What else might "GOOD physicians" not have time for? I can only guess...
But I will certainly remind our president that "GOOD lawyers" should not have time to get involved in politics! There you go!
I love this argument, this link between being GOOD and not having time for a lot of things....

This particular comment was my main reason for posting this. It is a classic recruiter myth that you just need a recruiter to find a job, yes, you need it, because you are such a busy physician. Recruiters hand physicians this compliment and at the same time very smartly push themselves on you. Compliments always, always work, no matter how untrue they are (scientifically proven BTW). Everybody loves compliments. This is actually a very clever marketing and sales trick. Who would not fall for the hidden compliment in that comment "You - as a good physician - are sooo busy" and say "yes" to it. And once the physician started agreeing with the recruiter, once the physicin started saying "yes", it is a much smaller step for the physician to say "yes" again to the recruiter's next statement, which invariably will involve "you need a recruiter". Basic and very effective sales technique. Has been used by used-car-salesmen for decades! Read more about sales techniques in "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini. Of course, no GOOD physician would have time to read such a book.

"Hence the three... now four comments."

At this point Anonymous feels he is finishing me off by stating "nobody reads your blog anyway".
Who cares? Those who read it benefit from it - if they are physicians - or get a rare opportunity to explore the dark side of their business practices - if they are recruiters.

My point is: Dear collegue, your job search is by far too important to involve a recruiter!


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you back and posting on this subject!!

Anonymous said...

Very insightful and humorous blog. Thank you. For the recruiter who thinks no one reads this blog, you are mistaken. I have personally passed it along to all 19 of our residents. Keep up the great work! ~ A Chief Resident in OB/GYN.

Matt said...

As a Healthcare Recruiter (and now Executive), I actually enjoy reading your blog. I have never commented, but wanted to drop a quick line today.

I can appreciate your point of view and a lot of you points are fair. But it is the tone which you write with is what people take exception to (in my opinion).

Taking someone's profession, and calling it "obsolete" or "monkey business" or whatever's almost like you were picked on while in high school by a physician recruiter and now you want to get "back at them" somehow.

And now that you are a Physician- you have that opportunity. Again, just my opinion but it just sounds on the "smug" side. There are ways to get your points of view across without sounding this way.

For example, we all can agree that robotics revolutionized the car making process right (much like the internet has done for in-house recruitment)? But would you go to downtown Detroit and laugh at people if they ultimately lost their jobs? Would you create a blog that promoted their potential (in your opinion) demise?

What if a machine could be used to deliver children in the coming years? And if I then created a blog which promoted YOUR profession's demise?

"See, we don't need doctors at all to deliver children anymore, after all, I just need a CPU tech and it'll save hospitals millions! Haha OB/GYNs, hope those expensive degrees were worth it!!!"

Bottom line, you have a right to your opinion, and unlike a lot of the recruiters you are talking about I actually DO my job effectively AND I have had jobs in Boston (near my hometown), LA, San Fran, Seattle, Miami, and NYC just to name a few. And I maintain relationships with the physicians I place to this day.

I did not recruit OB physicians but maybe if I did you would of had an opportunity to be submitted to my "urban" jobs.

But as I finish writing my comments perhaps the reason you write this way (and in this tone) is to get reactions out of people...which you did for me so kudos on that.

I do enjoy your thoughts on the subject b/c in the end there are "bad recruiters" out there who simply spam the same crappy job in the middle of nowhere over and over and over....and those people need to be weeded out of the industry.

ObGynThoughts said...

Dear Matt!
You are not the first standing up for your fellow recruiters. I have posted a blog in the past explaining why I am upset about recruiters. It is simple - many, many bad experiences, and nobody could get me the job I wanted (good location, IN Miami - not "Miami area - which seems to include Okechobee). Once I started doing it my own way - meaning, once I did mass mailing of my cover letter and CV to 400 ObGyns in Miami I recieved 8 calls from interested colleagues within one week!
So much for the glorious efficiency of recruiters.

-If a recruiter had found me the job I wanted, I would never have started this blog- !!!

And here is the link to the blog post where I explain my reasons in more detail:

Matt said...

Again, we can "agree to disagree" on this for sure, and when writing you can only draw upon your own personal experiences...I understand that completely.

I suppose it's like going out to eat and having a bad experience. You want to tell people about it so they can avoid that particular place. We all "get" that. But that doesn't mean every single restaurant on earth is bad either.

If that happened to you, would you take it so far that you would never go out to eat again?

And I don't know if blanketing a CV to a bunch of people is the way to go either. If it worked for you, then fantastic. Furthermore, I tell physicians never to send a CV with their personal info on it until the recruiter TELLS them what they have to offer.

What's the point in sharing your qualifications if the firm has no jobs you'd be interested in anyway!

And I did read your additional comments- it just sounds like you have run into the wrong firm(s). And to demonize the whole profession seems like a bit of a stretch. We aren't selling a 1976 Pinto on a used car lot here...even though that's the way you seem to perceive it.

That's all my point was.

And regardless of the progress of the internet- we will remain a part of this process long after both you and I are gone from our respective professions.

I'd like to clean up the industry more myself...

Matt said...

PS- I have made placements in Jackson Memorial Hospital btw...which, according to my maps- is IN Miami.

Matt said...

I find it interesting that you did not include my last post as a comment.

Then again, it is your blog and I respect that you can choose to publish whatever you wish.

Bottom line- "Mass Mailing" out someone's CV & information will never replace what I did for the physicians I worked with over the years. I am sorry you ran into the folks you did in your career...but be careful in assuming an entire profession is the way you say.

Because most of your claims are WAY over the top and the language you tend to use is quite inflammatory.

Save that for the Yankee fans at Fenway.

Lastly, just placed a CC/Pulm Doc in NYC last week and another surgeon in West Palm Beach. Sounds like "crappy" locations to me!

Take care, and keep blogging. People I'm sure enjoy hearing both sides of the argument.

ObGynThoughts said...

Hi, Matt
In Germany, where I grew up, there is a saying "this is the exception that confirms the rule". A second saying applies too "one swallow does not make a summer". (translation imperfect)
Yes, occasionally recruiters do actually have jobs in desirable areas.
When I was looking in Boston, I had an offer for "Obstetrics" - turns out it was "Obstetrics only", no gyn, no surgery and it was paying a lot less than the average salary - 125,000. Subpar pay. Came through a recruiter.
Second example - a job at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami - sure, good location, but it was for a strange "triage" job, for a position where an ObGyn would triage patients to those colleagues who would do the real work. A job that did not involve neither deliveries nor surgeries - a great place to waste you training and let your abilities fizzle.
I see some "hospitalist" "laborist" and "nocturnist" position and similar shift worker jobs in good areas being advertised by recruiters. To me these positions are truly not desirable. So, yes, recruiters may have jobs in desirable areas, but...
On rare occasions recruiters somehow get truly lucky and get good positions in desirable areas , but overall there is no way around the Munford law: "The more disadvantages a position has, the more likely it will be presented to you through a recruiter"
It is not your fault, Matt, I am not blaming you, it is the nature of how jobs are given out....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the blog. I have learned a lot.

OB2BOSTON said...

Your blog is very informative. Ironically, I was reading it for a while before I realized you were in Boston. I am a board certified OB/GYN looking to relocate to the Boston area. Do you know of any hospitals or practices looking to hire? If so, please email me at my posting name and I will send along my CV with more details.


Anonymous said...


I usually don't get too excited about personal opinion medical blogs as I find most of them are littered with the random musings of the typical type A boring nerd that goes into medicine in the first place. But today I sincerely want to thank you for a) posting such a blog and b) truly helping me in my job search. I'm a third year cardiology fellow and have been pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get a job. It's so stressful and an area no one really gave me any insight on until I stumbled across your blog.

Unfortunately I've had alot of the same recruiter experiences and they've left me utterly devoid of hope to find a job in a place where actual humans live, not just Alaska (seriously?!!) or Texarkana, Texas. I've been told that yes, the cities I want to live in are "saturated" and that the market is bad for cardiology and these really are the only opportunities they have.

I have an actual plan now and wanted to sincerely thank you. It seems easy for the above recruiter to focus on the "negative" aspects of your blog, but just because things aren't packed in a nice sandwich doesn't make them any less true. No recruiter will ever tell you that if you want a job in a big city to mail at least 500 CVs and cover letters out, get physician contact info in each city that you want to go to, etc. Instead they DO tell you a bunch of LIES so you will essentially commit social suicide a la the movie Mean Girls and go practice by a cow pasture so they get a buck.

Long sigh.

Again, thank you so much. No matter what flack you get for your opinion, there is alot of truth in it, and most importantly, direction for people like me to find the job of my dreams.

My sincerest of thanks,


ObGynThoughts said...

Dear Cards fellow: thank you for your comment - You made my day!
I wrote this blog exactly for you and for othercolleagues with similar experiences. When you come out of residency you have no idea how a job search works and you almost cannot prevent falling into the "recruiter trap". They seem to be everywhere, especially on the web...and you answer them and then you wonder again and again why they just do not have the job you want. Their jobs are always "off", there is always a drawback, something that is wrong with them. and then either depression sets in or you give up...
or you find out the truth - the truth that recruiters just only have the left over jobs that noone else wanted. And then it dawns on you.....
And then you figure out that you can actually do a better job than recruiters ever will be able to sending a letter with your CV and cover letter to every single physician in the area where you want to practice!

ObGynThoughts said...

and, Cards Fellow
please spread the word about my blog, please help others as well, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I sure will! Thanks so much again!

Anonymous said...

Some things are really strange with the basis of this blog. I know it is old--years old-but still active and on line--so I felt the need to comment.

First off--in your Miami experience--if a recruiter does not have a job in the area--nor be able to market a client successfully--why would they tell you about the jobs there--were you going to pay them to do the work for you to find a position?

And second--the base industry of recruitment is to help facilities find candidates that have trouble finding talent-maybe due to location or for some other reason---or those facilities that do not want to put time into it on their own. Of course a lot of these are going to be in out of the way places--or with smaller institutions-or undesirable conditions--these are the facilities that need the help. Do the patients in these areas not deserve a doctor? Finding these facilities a physician is what we do--this is why they pay us to recruit.

And third--with such a bad experience with recruiters--why on earth did you end up dealing with over 150 of them?????

As a physician recruiter who has placed happy candidates for happy clients-I can assure you that not each experience is negative. In fact--for physicians to listen to you and NEVER work with a recruiter will indeed keep someone from finding the right job and keep a facility from finding the right talent--somewhere.

Recruiters are here-just as are doctors. Obviously there are the good, bad and ugly with every industry. In essence, you don't have to look very hard to find some very nasty write ups and legal issues about physicians in any specialty and how they have done patients wrong.

I certainly respect physicians-I work with and for them all day long. It is a profession and choice in life that leaves the rest of us thankful. You deserved and should have had recruiters work with you in a way that was positive, honest and even caring. It is unfortunate that this did not happen with your experience. But really--give the rest of us who did you no wrong a break.


ObGynThoughts said...

Anonymous or PR
thank you for your comment.
This blog is about disappointment, about disappointed expectations. It is about the difference between the image recruiters present and the reality and it is about what young physicians can EXPECT from recruiters and what they cannot expect.
Image recruiters present about themselves:
We have the good jobs, everywhere, we have thousands of jobs, just tel us what you need and we have it or we will find it. Just contact us and we will customize a search for you.
That is how recruiters present themselves!
After many years of working in the field you are very clearly aware of what you do - help candidates with positions that are hard to fill. But exactly that is NOT presented to the physicians and that is NOT the image you convey openly or in an implicit way!
And my blog is about making exactly that very clear.
You have a mature true view of what recruiters do. And I agree, there is nothing wrong with that. But by not making it clear you are telling a white lie. You are not mentioning that you are trying to place physicians in hard to fill spots!
That information is absoutely nowhere to be found on any physician recruiter website, leaflet etc. You know it, but physicians, especially right out of the gate don't.
Why did I contact about 150 recruiters? Because I put in the time and because I just could not believe or accept that recruiters did not have the job I wanted. And once I figured out what the recruiter industry is really doing - bring physicians into hard to fill jobs - I tested my hypothesis and found it to be true every time.
Well, and why would you not tell a physician how to find a great job that is in an attractive city? Why not tell a physician what the recruitment industry really does? Because it is not good for your business! Exactly! That is my point!
And again, that fact is not published anywhere except on my blog.
Physicians come from an educational environment when they look for jobs, they have been surrounded by people who tell the whole story, who value the complete truth, the complete picture. We tell our patients what risks and complications our procedures have, we tell them if there is a procedure that we personally do not do and send our patients there. If I would be quiet about treatments that I personally do not have available, I would be killing people. I place the wellbeing of my patients above my income.
Recruiters don't.

Michael Jones said...

Wow, I'm sorry to be so late to the comment party here! Even so, thanks for the follow up post, and glad to see you addressed some of the critics of the original post. Wish you would write on this topic more often, and we would be thrilled to have you write a guest post for our blog at (no recruiting firm ads). I'll be posting links to your posts on this topic at all of our social media. Thanks for writing these!