Each year, thousands of residents in their final year of residency have the daunting task of surfing through thousands of job openings, determining which state they would like to practice in, and negotiating potential contracts. All of this can seem overwhelming for those who don’t have a large social network to lean on for additional resources or advice on how to find a job.
This presents a tough challenge for new doctors who have a limited understanding of how a healthcare business works. Starting a career is one of the toughest challenges that recent residency graduates face, but there are several tips that can alleviate some of the challenges along the way and have you prepared once you’re ready to move onto the next stage in your career.
- Develop Relationships With Your Peers
One of the most understated factors in a successful job search is the amount of time dedicated to developing relationships with peers. Developing relationships with your peers, or networking as it is often called, is essential to finding a job after residency. Networking is a key way of learning about potential job openings, both in the hospital where you are doing your residency training and elsewhere.
Building relationships with your peers means you can be one of the first to know about new job openings they learn about that may be of interest to you. Your peers don’t have to just be the other residents you work with on a daily basis. They could also be others you interact with regularly during residency. As your peers go on to find positions elsewhere, they will be a resource you could use to your career advantage. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to earn a job offer in the place they did their residency, so establishing connections with a variety of peers can add a bit of extra preparation when the time comes to seek opportunities elsewhere.
- Attend Hospital Department and Division Meetings
One great way to find potential job openings is to attend some of the department meetings that arise from time to time. These department meetings present good opportunities to meet, interact with, and share your resume and CV with doctors who are currently employed in a hospital or healthcare system you are considering. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and establish a connection with a doctor who could pass along a recommendation to a human resource manager at the hospital.
One key thing regarding this tip is that face-to-face communication is an absolute must. It is easier to make an impression that will benefit you in the long run by meeting individual doctors at these meetings and establishing connections versus reaching out to them in some other fashion. A face-to-face connection is easier to remember than an impersonal name in an email.
- Healthcare and Hospital Job Sites
Another great resource to use when looking for a job after residency is healthcare and hospital niche job sites. Increasingly, healthcare recruiters are going to these niche job boards to find qualified candidates—especially residents looking for a job—to fill open positions.
Some postings on the large job boards and job websites like Indeed and CareerBuilder receive many spam applications from individuals applying to jobs they aren’t fully qualified for. Hospital associations, healthcare systems, and healthcare recruiters are receiving fewer qualified candidates from these large one-stop-shop job boards and have been turning to successful niche job sites that provide stricter candidate screening. Niche job boards and job sites help healthcare recruiters and human resource managers narrow down prospective candidates based on the refined niche portal.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Explore Different Avenues
In today’s competitive job market it can feel like the only way to find a job after residency is to either know someone who can get you a foot in the door, or to use a job board. This means that there are plenty of job openings that aren’t being viewed by qualified candidates and leaves room for those who are willing to explore different avenues. Healthcare recruiters are using publications, journals, and classified ads to spread the message about current physician jobs that are available, and many residents aren’t looking in these locations for potential openings.
- Get Started Early
One of the sure ways to secure a job after your residency is to make sure that you start your job search while still in residency to lessen the downtime between placements. It’s hard to think that aspiring physicians can find ways to procrastinate, but it certainly happens. Any job seeker will tell you that applying for positions and going through the interview or offer process is both time consuming and lengthy. Increasingly physicians are waiting longer to get their search started, which only works against them instead of helping them. Don’t wait until the last minute to start exploring potential options, doing research on where you might be a good fit, and submitting applications.
If you choose to wait until a couple months before your residency comes to its conclusion, panic might take hold and you may accept a job the moment it is offered without vetting the position itself. Starting early will allow you to explore different options and consider each before moving forward.
- Leverage Your Knowledge
Each year it seems that more hospital jobs and physician openings become available, which means human resource managers and healthcare recruiters increasingly feel the crunch to find qualified candidates to fill these positions. You can use this knowledge to leverage your position both when applying for jobs and at the negotiation table. Do your research on potential expansion investments to healthcare systems, expected growth in different regions, and research where most physicians are currently practicing. Potential expansions in hospitals and healthcare systems always indicate additional openings for new physicians and new opportunities for residents to explore when seeking jobs.
According to Statistica’s Physicians In The US report, Washington DC, Massachusetts, and Maryland have the highest concentration of physicians per civilian count. Highly dense locations like these are the first place that most job seekers turn to when hoping to find a new job. The problem is that even though there are more potential job openings due to the population density in these areas, every other resident has the same idea and competition spikes. In order to leverage this knowledge, you should consider exploring areas where the population isn’t as dense, and the competition might not be as fierce.
- Make Sure It’s The Right Fit
Last but not least , make sure that the position you are considering is a good fit. One of the reasons that physicians may not be happy in a job is because they didn’t properly investigate the position before accepting it. You can avoid this by making sure that the positions you consider would be a good fit for you.
Do research on the location or healthcare system, other physicians you might be working with, and reviews of the employer. You want to make sure that the job you take after residency is one you are going to be satisfied with and not one where you will get burned out quickly. A common misconception residents hold when accepting a poor or initial job offer is that they can simply outwork their concerns, which only compounds the potential to burn out.
If you feel burned out and then leave the position in a short time, you are once again at the starting line in a long race, which only adds unwanted stress to your plate. As a resident, make sure spend extra time considering all available opportunities to ensure they are a good fit for you as a first job after residency.
Best of luck to you as you finish your residency and begin your job search. Utilizing these methods will help alleviate some of the pressures you will face in your final year of residency and aid in your efforts to find a job.