Physician Job Search Tips: How to (NOT) Prescreen Yourself Out of a Job

When a physician job seeker needs to find new employment in a specific geographic area, it is especially important to keep other job parameters as loose as possible from the very beginning of the job search. Below is a recent email sent by a physician job seeker to an employer through The names and locations in this email have been changed, but this is a real-life, common situation.

Hello Jane, I want to explore Hospitalist jobs in Florida, specifically in Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Naples, or nearby areas as my spouse has recently accepted a job in this area. I’m interested in a Hospitalist position, 7 on 7 off, preferably with NO calls, closed ICU, preferably with NO procedures, I’d like to hear about available positions in the area. Feel free to contact me at 111-222-3333, or reply to this email. Thanks, John Doe, MD

This job seeker did do several things correctly when sending this email. He contacted the employer directly rather than using a search firm, which will save the hospital upwards of $20,000 if they eventually hire him. He also stated a specific reason for wanting to be in this area, which is smart because metro areas in coastal Florida are usually fairly competitive job markets. The problem with his email that may have an adverse effect on his job search is the exclusive statements about his preferred schedule: NO calls, closed ICU, preferably with NO procedures. This is a very common and understandable mistake. Since there are at least 18 hospitals within his desired area, he probably thinks that there are plenty of options for employment, and that by stating his preferences, he will have saved time for himself and this recruiter.

However, a closer look at this candidate’s geographic area shows that all but two of these hospitals are owned by health systems, which reduces the number of potential employers to only 7. In this example, it is unclear how many of these 7 employers have active needs for the candidate’s specialty, regardless of his specific parameters. In addition, his statements on preferences may make him appear to be a poor fit for a job that meets most of his needs, although the job may be only slightly outside of the parameters he established. Physician employers are always very concerned about making a good fit because physician retention is so critically important to them. In this specific example, because coastal Florida is a destination location, there are probably always new candidates available, and the employer is likely to wait for a candidate who doesn’t express objection to certain aspects of a job upon making initial contact or sending in a CV/application. In fact, all physician employers, not just those with lucky access to a beautiful coast, are concerned with making a good fit and with retention. In areas that physicians specifically seek out, it is not uncommon that there are enough applicants for employers to wait on a candidate who is looking for exactly what they have available.

We aren’t claiming that this candidate won’t be able to find a job, nor are we claiming that sharing an absolute job requirement with employers is a mistake. We are saying that there are a few things he could have done differently to ensure doors remain open and increase his odds of finding the best possible position. If a physician knows that certain aspects of a potential job will absolutely rule that job out from consideration, then it is a good idea to go ahead and inform potential employers of those parameters. There may even be potential that the employer would change a given aspect of a job in order to recruit a candidate they really want. However, if this candidate is truly expressing preferences (and not absolutes), he would be better off to express interest in those aspects of the job which appeal to him, rather than potential aspects that disinterest him. In that way he would have a greater opportunity to learn about the available positions in the area (which may be less in number than he anticipated) and be in a position to pick the job that offers the best fit at the end of the recruitment process.

The bottom line is that for most physician job searches, it is better to be as inclusive as possible of available jobs at the outset of a search. Give yourself the opportunity to learn as much as possible about available positions within your geographic area, learn about how much interest you generate as a candidate, and then start the process of excluding jobs which are less than 100{7bd3c7ad8bdfca6261de5ca927cd789e17dbb7ab504f10fcfc6fb045f62ae8d5} ideal.

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