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Emergency Medicine News:
doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000340968.24163.5a
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Protect Your Paperwork, Protect Your Identity

Katz, Barbara

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Ms. Katz is the president of the Katz Company, an emergency medicine consulting firm dedicated to providing expert physician recruitment services and training emergency medicine residents in effective job searching.

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Welcome to the wonderful world of identity theft, web worms, and all the other high-tech, low-life schemes to rip you off, defraud the public, and use your bona fides for personal gain.

What does all this mean to you? As a physician job candidate, your identity is surfing the country in the form of your CV. It is up to you to make sure the process is handled securely so that you fully protect your paperwork. By protecting your paperwork, you protect yourself. The first step in protecting your paperwork is controlling what information you place in it.

Numbers are the biggest danger. License numbers, DEA numbers, Social Security numbers — none of these belongs on your CV. Someone could use them for nefarious purposes. These numbers are only to be provided during a credentialing process after you have accepted a position. No employer expects to see them on your CV, and they could question your judgment if you put them there.

Your photo is also not the best thing to put on a CV, even if you're a dead ringer for Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie! A CV is an informational piece, not a portfolio. Your appearance may be an asset, but it's the kind of asset that is most effective on a site interview rather than on paper. There is also the possibility that your photo could be transposed for less than respectable purposes. Identity theft starts with one or two pieces of information. Sending a piece of paper through cyberspace that contains your name, address, and photo could give a con man all he needs to counterfeit a driver's license or even an employee badge for a medical facility.

Contact information needs to be on your CV so that prospective employers who receive it can actually contact you. Some candidates provide only cell phone numbers and an email address on their CV and even leave off their actual street address, providing the rest of their contact details only to interested parties after initial contact and conversation. That's just fine. A CV that contains full contact information, license, DEA, and Social Security numbers, and a photo is an open invitation to identity thieves: “Take my identity, please!” It also can be used for counterfeiting prescriptions and a host of other illegal purposes, all under your name.

The next step in protecting your paperwork is controlling where it goes and who sees it. My general rule is know who, where, and why before forwarding a CV. If you see a job listing that interests you, make a phone call first to establish the basics. I know most of the job-hunting web sites provide the opportunity to submit your CV automatically to anyone who has listed a job posting. While it may sound like a quick and easy way to establish contact, I advise caution. Don't send your CV to anyone unless you know beforehand the name of the person receiving it, his title, the name and location of the group or hospital, and the purpose behind submitting your CV. Is there a position available, or is your CV being held for future consideration?

You have the right to insist on confidentiality prior to submitting a CV. This is especially important for those physicians who are making a job change. Confidentiality means no one sees that CV without your permission. If you are conducting a confidential job search and don't want your current employer to know about it, you have to be especially careful about protecting your paperwork. Make it clear to any prospective employer that your job search is confidential, that no contact with your current employer can be permitted without your permission, and that dropping your name to outsiders must be prevented. They will totally understand.

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Beware Blind Ads

This brings up the issue of blind ads. All the job classifieds including those in Annals of Emergency Medicine, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine's job bank, our classified section here in EMN, and the premier emergency medicine job web site, EDPhysician. com, feature some job postings that provide nothing more than a box number or email address for response. In other words, you are being asked to submit your CV to a totally unidentified person or entity with no way of knowing what will be done with it or even whether receipt will be acknowledged! That really makes me nervous. Blind recruitment ads have been around for a long time, and I have always wondered what they were trying to hide.

I know only three reasons for running a blind ad. First, a recruiter could be on a CV acquisition drive. It's a nasty piece of truth, but there are recruiters out there who either make up jobs or select the one decent position they have, and run a blind job posting to acquire CVs they can use as marketing tools. The CVs they collect are then used for a process known as “papering.” They take the CVs and send them to every ED in a state (or states) to entice the employer to use their services. If an employer bites, the physicians are then contacted.

The second reason for running a blind ad is so the employer can be selective and lazy. Because no one knows who he sent his CV to, the employer need not respond except to those who interest him. This means your ability to follow up on a CV submission is totally eliminated. And finally, some employers run blind ads to prevent recruiters from contacting them. Quite frankly, a sentence at the bottom of the ad stating they will not work with recruiters can prevent that. Blind ads can be dangerous and elitist, and my advice is to avoid them.

If you are responding to a job posting from an independent recruiter, don't expect the recruiter to spill all the details before you send a CV. If he does, there is nothing to prevent you from cutting the recruiter out of the equation and contacting the employer yourself. It's called protecting your bottom line! Working with a professional recruiter has many benefits, but requires you to establish an understanding and relationship with that recruiter first, before submitting a CV. Does the recruiter have a deep knowledge and scope of the emergency medicine market? Does the recruiter understand what you are looking for, and can this person produce opportunities in your geographic focus area?

I don't want to waste my time with a candidate I know I can't help. You'll know once you've spoken with a recruiter for 10 minutes if he is a professional who will work with you responsibly or if you're getting a snow job from an unscrupulous wheeler-dealer. Your gut will tell you what you need to know. A good barometer is how much the recruiter is willing to listen, not talk.

If you can't locate a phone number to make initial contact, a good cover letter with a minimal CV can provide protection for your paperwork. You can provide a bare-bones CV that limits your contact information and highlights your training and experience, and state in your cover letter that you will provide more information once you have received basic details about the position and the employer over the phone. A strong cover letter should target a prospective employer's specific needs and present your position as a qualified candidate for the job opportunity based on the information provided in the job posting.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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