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Career Source: Are We Done Yet?

Katz, Barbara

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000381475.14780.f2
Career Source


It's that wonderful time of year again. Senior residents are wrapping up their training, and getting ready to start new jobs and move into new homes. Even many experienced boarded physicians are making moves this summer into new and exciting challenges. Most of you worked hard to secure your new gigs, and are breathing a huge sigh of relief because that part of the adventure is signed, sealed, and delivered. Or is it?

If you are like most emergency physicians, you considered more than one employer. Some employers may have only received your CV; others granted you a phone interview; still others gave you a full site interview. Now that you've signed and are about to start a new position, what have you done about the offers you didn't accept? Have you been in touch with them? If you haven't, the time is now! Any employer that spent time and money to meet with you deserves your respect and response. Everyone you spoke to on more than one occasion should be thanked, told your decision, and why you made it. It's not only professional; it's good manners! Just a quick phone call or email to the hiring authority thanking him for his time and consideration will do the job, and state the name and location of where you'll be working.

If you had a site interview, you also should provide a basic reason for your decision, such as “My choice was based on the availability of administrative training with this employer.” Or “I chose this group because of a strong retirement program and ownership potential.” Emergency medicine is a small world, and the physicians you treat with respect today could turn out to be colleagues tomorrow.

Residents graduating in 2011 are about to embark on the trials and tribulations of job searching in the next month or so. I am a major advocate for candidates controlling their paperwork. Be selective about where you send your CV, and get details about a position before you do. Once a prospective employer has your CV, you have to become adept in the art of follow-up using three tools: telephone, email, and in total desperation, fax. Notice I left out the mail option; it's slow and often ignored.

If you sent a CV to a prospective employer at his request, you should expect to hear within a week. If you have not, a phone call is appropriate. Email is too timid an approach at this stage. The tone should be direct but not accusatory: “We spoke last week, and I forwarded my CV on (mention the date) as you requested. I would like to schedule a detailed telephone interview. What would be convenient for you?” The trick in this scenario is to take the ball back. Remember, in most cases, the hiring authority is an emergency physician with a full schedule, so be patient; he has to gather a group of people to meet you, and that can take time. If you find yourself leaving a message, try to get it on voicemail so you have the opportunity to be detailed, and not just leave your name and number. Your main objective is to receive validation of the employer's interest in your candidacy by moving to the next step. You can make follow-up calls once a week, but if you have to do that, you should be suspicious about the validity of the position or their interest in you. If you are waiting for site interview dates or other steps in the process, the same guidelines apply. The main rule here is to keep the lines of communication open. Don't let more than 48 hours go by before replying to a potential employer's call or email. Great jobs have multiple candidates. If you don't respond in a timely manner, someone else will.

Sometimes a potential employer will say no openings exist, but send your CV in case an opportunity arises. Set up a contact schedule, varying your tools to keep it interesting, but don't make contact more than once every two weeks. This is where email is most helpful. If you use it effectively, you can build a relationship with the hiring authority. A short email every two to three weeks with an update on your job search activities or a brief description of your current rotation can be effective. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting articles you can forward to this person: “Saw this article the other day, and I thought you would find it interesting.” The idea here is to keep contact without being overt about your reasons for doing so. Calling every two weeks with the same “Got a job yet?” gets old really fast. And don't invite them to be a friend on Facebook; keep it professional. Use your imagination; ask interesting questions in your emails that will prompt a reply. Play your cards right, and I guarantee you, when an opportunity surfaces, you'll be one of their first calls.

One of the toughest waiting games is the period between the site interview and the offer. If you are waiting for an offer, you can call once a week without being considered pushy or desperate. Be smart; don't leave the interview without asking when they will make a decision. It will give you a guideline for determining if you are barking up a dead tree. If you find yourself waiting more than three weeks for an offer or a reasonable response, chances are you're better off moving on.

Patience has never been one of my virtues, and as a job searcher, I doubt it will be one of yours. The theme here is to take an active approach. Try never to leave a step in the process without having a defined time frame for the next one. Keep the process moving, and when it is all signed, sealed, and delivered, don't forget the employers left behind.

Ms. Katz

Ms. Katz

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.