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Career Source: Online Job Searching: A Cautionary Tale

Katz, Barbara

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000415460.03134.06
Career Source

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.





I've written about job searching on the web before, but it's a new day and there are new players in town. Some sites can make your life miserable; some can provide you with timely and strong opportunities in a specialty venue with safe communication operations, and I'll cover those next month.

The premise is that Dr. Smith Googles “emergency physician jobs.” First up is the list of three sites that Google identifies as ads. Clicking on the prompt “Why these ads?” takes you to a link called “Ads Preference Manager,” which states that Google chose those three sites based on your recent searches. Of course, if you have not searched in recent (or even distant) history, the same sites come up anyway. In fact, it is always the same two sites, with the third rotating between a variety of sites. Sometimes the third is a locum site called, sometimes it is the site for Comp Health, and other times it is a generalist site for multiple physician specialties. But the other two are almost always and

I clicked on and registered under my own name with my email, address, and phone number. Once I established a log-in and password, I began my search. The first page said there were 1,479 emergency physician jobs. I swiftly discovered that these are not emergency physician jobs, but emergency medicine jobs, including listings for PAs, NPs, RNs, and techs. I looked everywhere for a filter that would allow me to search only physician jobs but no dice.

I decided to try to pare down another way. I applied the filter of “permanent” and the number immediately went down to 998. I then clicked on “single specialty groups.” Eight came up, and one was an urgent care job and six were recruitment agencies. I was still looking for a permanent emergency physician position after 35 minutes of searching. I then clicked on the filter for “partnerships.” Eureka! I got 29 jobs, 25 from one employer (a national group) and the rest from a regional Texas group.

Then I got really savvy. I found the advanced search page with check boxes for type of job, facility, and specialty. It yielded a total of 188 jobs in the entire country. Forty-three were with a national contract group, 31 with another national group, and the rest were primarily generalist agencies looking for anyone with a medical license. I did, however, find an interesting academic listing or two that actually surprised me. My assumption is that the medical school uses this site for other specialty searches (and quite possibly successfully), and the emergency medicine listings were part of a package deal. I spent more than an hour just to find a job listing that was worthy of a residency trained EP, and let's just say the results were far less than worthwhile. requires that you register your full contact information to see any listings. The site will not even reveal the number of positions it has in your specialty without that. And unless you have letters after your name (MD, DO, NP, PA, or RN), you can't register at all! The process is so confusing it took me seven attempts to complete it. I have no letters after my name, and I ended up registering under a pseudonym, but used my actual email and general contact information. I logged in, and guess where I ended up?! Yes, apparently they are one and the same. And the fun was just getting started.

Let the email parade of recruiters begin! Once you register with PhysicianDepot, you have unwittingly registered with nearly every recruiting firm in the country. They all email you within two to three hours; some repeatedly. I received more than 32 emails within four hours asking for a CV, promising big bucks with locum assignments, and presenting a laundry list of open positions around the globe. Many of these recruiters went as far as stating that they had reviewed my qualifications, which was a blatant lie because I never submitted any.

And it wasn't just recruitment firms. I received a detailed pitch from a hospital recruiter in Louisiana as well. is nothing more than a clearinghouse for recruiters and employers. You might ask why all this detail about my experience is important. These sites subject users not only to a lot of annoying communication but also to dangerous potential for misuse. When a physician registers on, all information is immediately placed on a portion of the site that employers and recruiters must pay to access. That physician's contact information and background is now available to anyone willing to fork over a few bucks to see it. If, like many physicians', the CV includes state license numbers, DEA numbers, and even a photo, identity thieves have everything they need.

If you put your CV in a clearinghouse like, you are giving unlimited access to less-than-professional recruiters to use it as they wish. Unfortunately, quite a few of them like to use strong CVs as marketing tools. They can print out some impressive CVs and send them to a prospective employer they want to sign. Once a physician's CV is in the hands of an employer, the recruiter can claim referral if that physician interviews with that employer, (even if a contracted relationship does not exist).

That is enough of a nuisance that employers will avoid candidates who fall into that bracket just to avoid the hassle. If this same physician contacted an employer though a personal referral, it could be problematic if the CV is already in their hands from a fee-related source, solicited or not. Are all recruiters greedy and unethical? Of course not. Quite a few reputable recruiters never use a clearinghouse to obtain paperwork or submit a CV to an employer without a candidate's permission. But many will, so protect yourself and protect your paperwork by never registering on a site like this.

The only reliable source for online job searching is on sites devoted exclusively to emergency medicine. Plenty exist. Some have been around a long time, and some are new and upcoming. Some are hosted by contract groups and independent recruitment firms; others are open to all job listings. Some are hosted by professional associations while others are job boards on specialty information sites. Some are the online versions of print classified ads. Next month I will go into details on all of these.

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