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The Many Ways to Network

Welcome! This article is part of a Medscape Physician Business Academy course, . Visit the Course Page to take the full course and receive a certificate.

Expanding Your Universe for Your Job Search

Networking is the heart of your job search. To find the best possible job, you need to reach out to a large number of sources who can furnish job possibilities and help you research employers to make sure they're a good fit.

Networking involves contacting friends and colleagues, consulting job lists, using social media, attending meetings, and even reaching out to employers with whom you have no ties at all.

Preliminary Steps

Have clear objectives. Make sure you have your job requirements firmly in mind. Create a checklist for them, starting with size and type of practice, compensation model, and type of community you're looking for. Update this checklist as you adjust your views during the search.

Open a new email account. Before you start the process, it's advisable to open a separate email account just for networking contacts. You're likely to be deluged with emails. Separating them from your personal and work accounts will make life less confusing.

Create a standard reply. Once you begin sending out inquiries, the responses may roll in at any time. So it's handy to have prepared a standard reply that you can send back immediately when you're busy. It's also handy to have a set of questions you can ask prospective employers on their initial call.

Your job search can be a very hectic time, so it's important to stay in control.

Keep a log of job leads. Include names, contact information, the dates of important conversations, and what was discussed. Your job search can be a very hectic time, so it's important to stay in control.

Using Job Boards

You can find a whole slew of possible jobs by regularly consulting job boards—large lists of positions that are now almost entirely found on the Internet.

You can access these lists for free, and the big job boards have search engines that help you narrow down the list, using key words based on specialty and location. You can also set up regular email and text alerts providing you with the latest job opportunities.

Types of Job Boards

Job boards that are run by medical societies and journals were considered useful by 62% of job seekers, according to a 2011 survey [1] for the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) CareerCenter. On websites run by such journals as the NEJM or the Journal of the American Medical Association, or by specialty or subspecialty societies, look for "career center" or a similar term.

The 2011 survey also found that a considerably smaller percentage of job searchers (46%) valued commercial job boards, run by companies that aggregate available jobs for physicians.

Also, you can get job postings on the websites of physician search firms, such as Merritt Hawkins and Jackson & Coker. And large employers, such as Humana, Tenet Healthcare, HCA, and Kaiser Permanente, provide extensive lists of currently offered positions.

You can create an Internet search for newly available jobs. On some sites you can create an alert by putting in your keywords, such as "physician opportunity urology Denver" or "ob/gyn job San Diego."

Should You Post Your CV on Job Boards?

Many of the commercial job boards ask you to download your CV onto the site, so that employers can see it and contact you. That sounds very useful, and indeed, some physicians have obtained jobs this way. But there are several reasons why you may not want to do this:

  1. You will be receiving a great deal of spam email from employers and recruiters.

  2. Having your CV posted everywhere may give employers the impression that you aren't very choosy—and perhaps even a little desperate.

  3. It may be very difficult for you to update your CV if you want to alter it later.

  4. Posting your CV won't make sense if you want to customize your CV for each employer, adjusting your strengths to meet the needs of that employer.

Make Use of Your Personal Contacts

Personal contacts are considered the most effective way of finding a physician job. According to the NEJM CareerCenter survey, this method was rated useful by 88% of job seekers—far higher than any other method of networking.

There are several reasons why this is so:

  1. Most physician jobs are never posted, so the only way you can find out about them is through personal contacts.

  2. Even if the job will eventually be posted, you could find out about it before that time.

  3. Establishing a personal connection with employers through your contacts improves your chances of getting the job. All else being equal, employers prefer to give jobs to people whom they trust, and personal connections help establish trust.

All else being equal, employers prefer to give jobs to people whom they trust.

Your personal contacts can be helpful at every stage of your job search. If you don't yet know where you are going to locate, they can help pinpoint the hot markets. If you already have a location in mind, they can help you find a particular job there. And if you want to evaluate a job or employer, they might be able to give you some insights.

Who Might Be a Useful Personal Contact?

Previous graduates of your program. New physicians who went through a job search just before you will know the hot markets, the highly regarded practices, and even specific job leads in your specialty. They can also give you some pointers on such challenging areas as compensation, contract review, and work requirements. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Practicing physicians. You might ask physicians with whom you have worked on rotations if they know of any jobs, or if they can name others who might know. This is the classic networking tree: The physicians whom you know pass on your request to friends, who will pass it on to their friends, and so on.

Friends and family. You might be surprised that a person close to you may know someone who has contacts with an employer you're interested in. They may know of jobs that haven't been posted yet. Having a mutual acquaintance could make it easier to snag an interview or even get hired.

Pharmaceutical representatives. Pharma reps might provide unusually deep insights into the practices you're considering. They know which ones are planning to bring in a new partner, which have tranquil workplaces, and which may have financial problems. And if you want to move to another part of the country, your drug reps might be able to refer you to colleagues at the new location.

Using Meetings to Find a Job

Physician meetings are an effective but underused way to extend your list of contacts for your job search.

Busy residents and fellows may feel they don't have the time to travel to meetings, but some of these meetings may be nearby. Also, you may already be planning to attend meetings of your specialty society, which often feature breakout sessions for job seekers and feature booths of employers and search firms in the exhibition hall.

Medical meetings offer a perfect opportunity to meet one-on-one with physicians who run clinical practices or manage doctors in large organizations, or know people who do so.

In addition to medical meetings, you can go to job fairs that are held in major cities by medical societies or private companies. Again, there might be one very near you.

If you're searching locally, you might also attend departmental meetings at nearby community hospitals or a meeting of the county medical society, where you can meet practicing physicians. Call ahead of time, and dress for the occasion.

Pointers on Meetings With Potential Contacts

You are asking for information. At this point, you are not asking for a job. Research expected contacts beforehand so that you can prepare specific questions for them.

Arrive prepared. Dress formally. Bring copies of your CV, a list of career priorities, prepared questions for potential employers, and a pad and pen to take notes. Carry your materials in a briefcase rather than a backpack or bag, so as to look more professional.

Talk to people at each booth. Don't just scoop up the tchotchkes and not say a word. You'll find it's very easy to talk to people at the booths. That's what they're there for. Regard it as good preparation for other conversations at the meeting.

Have real conversations. Take your time and really get to know people. Focus on meaningful conversations, not superficial hellos.

Become conversant about the meeting. Check the agenda in advance and research the guest speaker, host, sponsor, or award recipients. This information will improve your conversations.

Exit gracefully. Maintain eye contact and introduce your contact information, or say that you want to check out some of the exhibits before they close. You want to leave on good terms, so don't fidget, look at your watch, or check your cell phone.

Using Social Media

The Internet helps you to vastly extend contacts for possible jobs. Consider the large array of social media sites for doctors, such as Medscape and others.

There are also niche sites for certain kinds of doctors; examples include Orthomind (for orthopedic surgeons), MomMD (primarily for female physicians), and Student Doctors Network (which includes residents looking for their first job). And you can go to general sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

In the 2011 NEJM CareerCenter survey, only 15% of respondents valued social media as a way to get a job. A survey today might find a much higher percentage. Interest in doctor-based social media in particular seems to be taking off, with many new sites starting up. However, these digital relationships cannot fully take the place of real personal relationships that you have.

Networking Sites

On such sites as LinkedIn, you can post a profile and photo of yourself, and ask people you already know to join your group of contacts. You can check these sites to see whether you have any connections with people in the organization or rival organizations, and then try contacting them.

On LinkedIn, you can also join more than 180 groups that have to do with physicians, and most large healthcare employers have sites there. If you join these groups, you can share posts and start discussions.

Physician search firms and employers use LinkedIn and even Facebook to find candidates for jobs. That makes these sites a good way to enhance your job search.

Tips When You Are Networking

Be careful what you post. On Facebook or other social media, don't post scandalous photos or say things that could put you in a bad light, such as lying to get out of work, complaining about colleagues, or engaging in online bullying. It's common for employers to search for your name on the Internet and see what they come up with. You may also want to make your social network pages, such as Facebook, inaccessible to public searches.

It's common for employers to search for your name on the Internet and see what they come up with.

Rewrite your profile. Even if you don't have any negative material on your social media sites, it's a good time to rewrite your profile to reflect your job search, and find a new photo to post that makes you look like a credible job candidate.

Discussion Forums

Most doctor-only sites are basically discussion forums. Usually, you can remain anonymous, only identifying yourself when you want to contact someone. Or you can be "partially visible," as one site puts it—showing such information as your job preferences and qualifications.

On these discussion forums, you can ask questions that can significantly help you with your job search, such as:

  • Do you know anyone at X practice?

  • What is the work climate at Y organization?

  • What is the starting compensation at Z health system?

  • Where is the best place in the Dallas area to practice surgical oncology?

Using Other Social Media

Hospitals and large practices often post videos about the institution on YouTube. With these videos, you can learn about the mission of the organization, see interviews of the medical staff, or take a virtual tour of the facility.

Twitter can be especially useful if you are networking at a medical meeting. You can see the latest happenings in small nuggets of information.

Researching Employers

Much of networking involves doing some research on potential employers, and there are plenty of Internet sites that can help you with this.

You can consult job-rating sites, such as Glassdoor or Great Place to Work, Here, you can read reviews by employees, former employees, and customers and get information on compensation.

Many of these sites don't have many reviews of healthcare organizations. One exception is Glassdoor, though it tends to focus only on large healthcare organizations and most of the reviews are by nonphysicians. In addition to individual reviews, which you can read in full if you sign up, Glassdoor posts an overall rating of the organization on a scale of 1 to 5 and a very short profile of the facility.

Indeed, which is mainly a job-posting site, also runs reviews of many large healthcare organizations. For large institutions with lots of reviews, such as Kaiser Permanente, it summarizes reviews on a scale of 1 to 5, broken down by compensation and benefits, work/life balance, culture, job security, and management. It also presents polls of users on work culture: Is it balanced or stressful, competitive or relaxed?

In addition, you can consult Yelp reviews on individual physicians. But take these reviews with a grain of salt. They may be posted by patients who simply have a grudge against the physician.

You can also learn a great deal about an employer by looking at its own website. Browse the organization's mission statement; news releases; physician profiles; and in some cases, annual reports.

Conduct Your Own Job Search

Remember that many employers don't bother to post positions. They may not be in a hurry to fill them, and they may be confident that they'll find someone easily. Yes, there is a shortage of physicians throughout much of the United States. However, depending on the specialty, there is actually is a glut of physicians looking for jobs in many large cities.

Remember that many employers don't bother to post positions.

You can find these unposted jobs if you can zero in on an organization you want to join or a place you want to locate to.

To do this, make a list of organizations you want to apply for; find the right contact people on their websites, such as the head of a department or a recruiter; and call them up. The initial call will probably be short and friendly. You might say, "Hello, my name is Doctor X. I'm new to the area and was wondering whether you need a [your specialty]. If you're interested, I can send you my CV."

If your focus is a particular area rather than a particular job, start a simple Google search for practices, hospitals, or other organizations you'd want to contact in the area.

Mass Mailings

If you're feeling more ambitious, assemble a list of organizations in the area and mail or fax your CV and cover letter to them. To get a full list of in-house recruiters at hospitals and large practices in the area, go on the website of the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters and fill out a request form.

You can also buy mailing lists for physicians in the area from, WebMD, or MMS. You can break down your request by specialty or ZIP code. At a price of about $0.50 to $0.75 per contact, you can get addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers of contacts.

You could fax each contact, but it's more polite and effective to use the mail. To assemble letters, use the mail-merge function in Microsoft Office. Use your printer to address envelopes as well as print out your cover letters and CVs. Sign the cover letters, and send them at the bulk mail rate.

One or two weeks later, send another letter or fax, or make a phone call. With this method, you can expect a response rate of 1%-2%, or as high as 4%. That means if you mail or fax 1000 letters, you could possibly receive as many as 40 responses.

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Welcome! This article is part of a Medscape Physician Business Academy course, . Visit the Course Page to take the full course and receive a certificate.


Koushik Shaw, MD

| Disclosures | January 01, 2017

Authors and Disclosures


Koushik Shaw, MD

Urologist, Austin Urology Institute, Austin, Texas; Author, The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Right Job After Residency (McGraw-Hill Education, 2005)

Disclosure: Koushik Shaw, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.