Physician recruitment, like hiring in general, is moving more and more to the online world. According to a 2010 survey of 2008 hiring practices done by the Medical Group Management Association, the use of online job boards increased by 9 percent from 2007 to 2008; recruiters reported that online listings were their preferred method of hunting for a physician, with referrals ranking close behind and outsourced search firms a distant third.
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So if you're a neurologist looking for a new position, how can you make the most of the online search world? And if your practice is looking for a new neurologist, how can you leverage the tools that are out there?
First, you need to find the right sites. The traditional, well-known job boards, like Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com, aren't particularly well suited for physicians, said Mary Lynn Bower, who manages PedJobs, the online employment resource for the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has been operating since 2001. “General job boards are extremely fractured when it comes to physician hiring,” she said. Instead, she recommends that as a specialty physician, you start out with what you know best: your specialty.
VIRTUAL CAREER CENTER
The AAN has long had an online job board, but this year, the Academy's online career resources are taking a giant step forward. The AAN has launched a new online career center, bringing together all the career-planning options from the AAN Web site into one convenient, easy-to-use section, www.aan.com/go/careercenter, which also features new tools like an online CV builder.
“Our job content has been scattered in the past,” said Amy Schoch, AAN program manager of products. “Now, we're pulling together the best that the Academy already offers with new tools and technologies in one site. We'll have clinical research training fellowship program listings, the fellowship directory, the job board, links to products like the Continuum journal, links for maintenance of certification and CME, and links to career resources in our online store, as well as new items like the CV builder, all in one place.”
And debuting during the AAN 2011 annual meeting in Hawaii, from April 9-16, and continuing on through the end of April, the Academy is hosting a “Virtual Career Fair,” which allows neurology job-seekers and hiring practices, hospitals, health systems, and recruiters to interact in real time.
Between 40 and 60 advertisers — search firms, practices, hospitals or health systems — will be featuring jobs at the virtual career fair. Job-seekers can upload their photo and CV, and visit virtual booths in what Schoch calls the “Avatar” of career planning. “You'll ‘walk’ into a virtual exhibit hall and choose which booth you want to go to,” she said. “You'll then click on the company profile and see what job listings they have. They may also have YouTube video tours of their facilities — like a new sleep lab or stroke center.”
If you see a position that interests you, you can inquire about it “live” via e-mail or real-time chat. “It's just instant,” said Schoch. “All the information is in one place, and you can access it when it's convenient for you in a way that's convenient for you.”
The general AAN Career Center will have job listings year-round, and employers will be able to create featured ads that rotate on the home page of the Academy Web site. There will also be options for organizations such as hospitals and health systems to brand themselves as “featured” employers.
“There will be many tools for both employers and job-seekers to make themselves stand out,” said Schoch. The site will also feature a regular blog from Matthew Eccher, MD, a neurologist at the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, talking about career transitions in neurology.
ONLINE JOB PROSPECTS
“It's a buyer's market,” Schoch said of the online job prospects for neurologists. “I have 160 online positions right now, and you can go in and pick and choose what you're interested in. You create your profile, you build your CV with the builder tool, and upload it. You can also set up e-mail alerts so that new positions in your specific area of interest — epilepsy, stroke, general neurology, whatever — are e-mailed directly to you as soon as they appear. The system is working for you, so you don't have to take time to do searches.”
ONLINE HIRING PROCESS
But even if online job searches are a buyer's market for neurologists, that doesn't mean you don't need the right skills to make yourself the most attractive candidate in that market.
“Most people think you apply for a job online the same way you do in real life, and that's not true,” said Peter Weddle, executive director of the International Association of Employment Web Sites. “The Internet makes recruitment ads more visible to a lot of people, so they tend to generate a lot more responses. Instead of looking at 10-20 responses, employers can get hundreds of applications. Now, obviously, there might not be quite as much traffic for specialized positions such as in neurology, but it still means you are likely to have plenty of competition.”
Weddle calls the online hiring process the “application two-step.”
“Step one is a test to determine if you paid attention in Mrs. Murphy's kindergarten class and learned how to follow instructions,” he said. “If the job posting says ‘cut and paste your resume into the body of an e-mail,’ then that's what you do. Don't attach a document. If it says to attach a document, don't cut and paste it. That may seem simple, but many people just go on automatic. With all the candidate information that's flowing in, recruiters don't have the time or patience for those who don't follow the rules.”
Step two, Weddle said, is to move beyond the job board where you found your desired position to leverage other online tools. “Use the networking capability of your association, LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages, college and university alumni sites, to try to find an individual who works for the organization where you're applying,” he explained.
“In the best of all cases, if you've been good at networking — and unfortunately, most people aren't — you'll find someone you know who works for that organization. If that's not the case, look for someone with whom you have a professional relationship: you went to the same school, belong to the same association, something like that.
“Reach out to those individuals to see if they'll take your resume and walk it in the door of the HR Department and put it on the desk of the recruiter working the position for which you've applied.
“Recruiters have a bias: they believe the best candidates are those recommended by their fellow coworkers. If your resume gets that kind of attention, the probability that the recruiter will consider it goes from the single digits to nearly 100 percent.”
If you are serious about finding a new position, Weddle recommends that you invest a minimum of 30 minutes at a time, two times a week, in online networking.
“Online job searching is a contact sport. The better you are at building and nurturing relationships with headhunters, professional peers, and potential employers, the better luck you'll have down the road,” he said.
“In the good old days, when this was all done face to face, it was very time consuming and labor intensive,” Weddle said. “Today, you still need that face time, but you can also network in your fuzzy slippers from your desktop. It's worth the investment of time and effort to go to your association Web-site or to LinkedIn and see if there's a group in your specialty or subspecialty in the location where you live, or where you're looking. Then, turn those connections into relationships by building familiarity and trust.”
THE HIDDEN JOB MARKET
For many neurologists, there probably are positions that you can compete for without going to so much trouble. So why bother? “Three words: hidden job market,” Weddle said. “The best positions are often not advertised and not filled through headhunters. They're filled through networking, by one person knowing another person who recommends somebody else.”
Even as they're hiring on one side, Weddle noted, many companies are laying off on the other. “It can be a PR black eye to post a lot of announcements on job boards just as you're laying people off,” he said. “So in today's world, a growing number of organizations are turning to social and professional networking to fill positions. They haven't stopped using job boards, to be sure, but now, they're also using social media to fill their openings.”
TIPS FOR RECRUITING ONLINE
What about the neurology practice, or hospital neurology department, who's trying to stand out as the ideal home for a top neurologist? How can they make the most of the online career world?
“My most important piece of advice for employers is not to write a job positing like a position description,” said Peter Weddle, executive director of the International Association of Employment Web Sites. “Unfortunately, many of today's job postings are writt en just that way and that makes them nothing more than a cure for insomnia. …The most effective job postings are designed to persuade the individual to do the one thing they don't want to do: change. They have the power to convince even the most passive prospects to go from the devil they know — their current employer — to the devil they don't — a new one.”
Online job descriptions aren't at all like a print ad — or they shouldn't be. Weddle provides these tips for posting ads:
* Don't write paragraphs. Write bullets and headlines. People don't read on the Web — they scan. Use short sentences.
* Titles are tops. What comes back on a Web search is usually the title and the first line or two of your posting. Your title and first line have to pull the job seeker in. Make the headline short and use lots of action words.
* Look at other competing job listings for ideas. What caught your eye? What pulled you in and what put you to sleep?
“We've found that employers on our career site keep coming back and posting over and over,” said Mary Lynn Bower, who manages PedJobs, the online employment resource for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “They've found success. If you use it right, the online world is a highly effective tool for both hiring and job seeking in medical specialties.”
MORE ONLINE JOB RESOURCES FOR PHYSICIANS
* PracticeLink (www.practicelink.com), which breaks down opportunities by specialty as well as by state. A recent search turned up nearly 200 job listings for neurologists.
* PhysiciansEmployment (www.physemp.com), which allows you to search for general neurology jobs as well as several subspecialties, such as sleep medicine, neuromuscular disease and neuroradiology. You can also rank your preferred regions of the country, and search for permanent, locum tenens, and/or part-time positions. A recent search here also found more than 200 listings just in the general neurology category. This site allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed of new jobs.
* Neurocareer.com, a niche site that is part of the PhysicianCareerJobs network, claims to feature over 420 positions for neurologists. It's free to join and save customized searches, which can also be e-mailed to you.