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Career Source: Job Searching on Social Networks

Katz, Barbara

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000372193.76737.80
Career Source


You might think that the social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were tailor-made for conducting a job search. In some ways, they can be great tools, but in others they are a dangerous trip into the land of misinformation and the road to lack of confidentiality.

I am always looking for new and exciting ways to generate candidate interest in top new opportunities, particularly if they are free. Having said that, I must admit that being limited to a paltry 140 characters on Twitter is like asking me to talk without my hands! I can't even manage a job heading with less than 200 characters. But with creative writing comes creative posting. Sometimes it's just a matter of tweeting: “Great job in southern Jersey,” and here comes the gang! OK, maybe not a gang, more like a lone wolf, but one is better than none. Perhaps I'll try a totally materialistic approach to it: “Earn a ton in Trenton!” We'll see how that goes. The problem is I get interesting responses from custodians who want to move up in life. Apparently, not all my followers are emergency physicians. Who knew?

But lots of people think Twitter is a great way to get the word out. I searched “emergency physician jobs” on Twitter, and got a slew of short little shots, mostly from an outfit called “Simply Jobs.” What I can tell you about them is that their jobs seem, well, simple. They do tell you that the job is in a hospital, but you are unlikely to get more than that. I tried going back in with the same search criteria an hour later, and was thrown out a back door. So it seems like an iffy proposition all the way around. You can try different key words like “emergency physician Massachusetts,” “ER doc jobs,” or any other combination of key words and see what happens. You might get a link to a site or just a whole bunch of malarkey.

Then there's Facebook. You get a few more characters to work with there when you are posting, but again, not enough to qualify for a serious job description. Besides, the walls are all full of fun pictures with family, and earth-shattering news flashes about picking up a mocha frappacino at the Starbucks in downtown Detroit so who cares if you can earn a ton in Trenton? All my “friends” seem to be busy spending their money, not reading about how to earn it. Besides, it just seems tacky somehow, doesn't it? I mean, there are some lovely snaps of the little ones playing at the shore and then wham! Katz wants to fill a great job in Jersey! Nope, doesn't work for me. I have, however, experienced a few physicians trying to contact me through Facebook about instituting a job search. I have to be honest; it seems like a strange way to contact someone about something so important. If you are trying to locate someone, find an email address. And you should be somewhat circumspect about what you put out there.

This brings me to my biggest issue with using social networking sites for job searching: lack of confidentiality. You can't protect yourself. My first response to anyone who contacts me via one of these sites is telling them to use email or the phone to protect their privacy. Word moves fast on these sites; it's simply astonishing. Everything you post on a social web site is open to the public to see. If you use Twitter, chances are, so does your employer. If you want to protect your confidentiality, don't go there.

Here's an idea. Film yourself looking after a patient in the ED, showing your astonishing clinical acumen, brilliant interpersonal skills, and superb patient-family interaction, and put the clip on YouTube. Potential employers can watch it, and make you splendid offers without bothering with all that interview stuff. Of course, you'll have to get written consent from the patient, and there's this little thing called HIPAA to consider, but investigate the possibilities. On the flip side, EDs looking to hire a few good doctors could film their splendid departments in action with a super voice-over to lure in candidates.

I actually did a search on YouTube for “emergency room.” Up popped more than two dozen videos devoted to the ED visit of Rihanna last year, most with background music. Then I tried a search with “emergency room jobs.” Knock me over with a feather; you wouldn't believe the stuff that came up! That flip side scenario I mentioned above is happening all over YouTube. Hospital EDs are advertising their jobs using really savvy videos with background music, interviews with their doctors, and lots of discussion about the practice and the lifestyle in the area.

There was a full six minutes on one video for Saint John Regional Hospital. ( Another ED had several short video clips featuring different aspects of their practice. These things are brilliant! They seem to be stressing the “feel-good practice” side a lot, and aren't big on details like shift length and compensation, but this is a concept with serious potential.

Finally, Linked In can be a great source for finding blogs from other emergency physicians, even webinars and other online opportunities to share ideas, get questions answered, and even pick up some leads for new jobs.

All of these require registration and personal information so be wise, be choosy, and once you have them set up, you might actually consider visiting them from time to time. I found an emergency physicians group on Facebook that was established back in October 2009, had 29 members, and one post. Sometimes it's just nice to be able to share ideas, questions, and moans and groans with other physicians you don't have to look at every day. You get the chance to vent with a certain amount of anonymity, though again, caution must rule. It's still all public access.

It's a whole new world out there, and it's primarily on the web. Get creative; check things out. Will it work for job searching? Maybe not so much today, but shortly I see it being a very viable tool, especially if those YouTube videos are any indication. But remember that whatever you post is open to the public. Search and enjoy; just employ some common sense.

Ms. Katz

Ms. Katz

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.