Interview with a physician recruiter: Shedding light on the mysterious callers
Almost every physician and graduating resident have received calls from a physician recruiter. Who are these mysterious callers and why they do what they do? We decided to Interview Bob Eskridge, President of Eskridge Associates to find out more. Please note this is not an advertisement or endorsement by Careermedicine.com
Q: How long have you been a physician recruiter and your position?
I have been a Physician Recruiter for about fours years now and started Eskridge & Associates about three years ago. I have been doing recruiting and staffing for about eight years total.
Q: How would you describe a day at work in a physician recruiter’s life?
Typically days tend to be very structured. The business day starts generally at 8:30am reviewing emails and voicemails. They also review their plan for the day and make any necessary adjustments.
9-9:30 – Morning Meeting to review hot jobs and hot candidates
9:30 – 1200 – Marketing/Client calls. Staying in touch with clients, keeping them up to date on their searches as well as finding out what their projected needs are. Also present qualified candidates for open orders.
1200 – 1pm – Lunch
1:00-2pm – Return emails and phone calls
2:00-2:30pm – Miscellaneous tasks
2:30- 5:00- Recruiting calls. .
5:00 – 5:30 – Afternoon Meetings to review successes
5:30- 6pm – Return emails and phone calls, Plan following day
Q: What is a ‘Board Certified Physician Recruiter’? Who certifies them and what are the criteria for certification?
A Board Certified Physician Recruiter is a recruiter who has taken the time, energy, and money to continue their professional education. The National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) ( www.recruitinglife.com ) is the governing body that certifies the recruiter. It is the intent of the NAPS to first educate individuals in this profession so that they may best serve their customers, whether that customer is the client company hiring official, candidate, or even fellow recruiters. Before they sit for the PRC (Certified Physician Recruiter Consultant) one has to first take either the Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) for permanent placement or the Certified Temporary Staffing Specialist (CTS) for temporary or contract placements. Once they have either of these tracks then they are allowed to take the PRC. The exam covers a wide range of material to include employment law, immigration, and ethics. Once you are certified, then you are required to take Continuing Education to maintain it. You are required to take 50 CEUs every three years to keep the designations.
Q: What educational and employment backgrounds do physician recruiters come from?
As you can imagine, nobody really grows up wanting to be a recruiter. Generally you get introduced into it from your own job search at some point in your career. Physician Recruiters come from all types of backgrounds. Some have come from HR offices, other businesses, as well as several I have met and trained are physicians themselves. The beauty and the pain in this business is that there really are no barriers to entry. Anyone with a phone, and now, an internet connection can call themselves a recruiter. Hopefully, your readers will take the time to find a certified recruiter to work with which will greatly help in raising the standards within our industry.
Q: Is physician recruiter a high or a low turnover job? and why?
Turnover is extremely high. The average tenure for a new recruiter is less than one year. Many folks who get into recruiting believes this is an administrative job. It is far from it. Recruiting is 100% sales. Interestingly, once you pass the ten year point turnover is minimal. One thing people do not realize is how difficult this career really is. I tell people who are interested that what I do is very simple but not easy. I am blessed to be able to help people in a very fundamental way…help them find a job, manage their career, help them build their business. It is extremely rewarding every day. But you have to have really two very distinct traits. The first is empathy. You must really want to help your clients and candidates succeed. You have to have their best interests in mind. The second is an ego beyond belief. A typical recruiter will hear “No” twenty times for every yes…if they are good at this. Starting out, that ratio can be 50-60:1. You have to have the hide of a rhino to be willing to pick up the phone and dial the next number. Many people simply cannot handle the rejection. 95% of salespeople will give up after one negative phone call, yet it generally takes 6-7 contacts before a client is willing to use your services or buy your product.
Q: What is a priority for a physician recruiter? ‘Filling a vacancy for an employer with a right candidate’ or ‘Finding the right job for an applicant’?
I suppose the correct answer is finding the right candidate for the employer since the employer is paying us. But in reality it needs to be a win-win-win for everyone: client, candidate and recruiter. If one of the three are not happy then it is not likely the deal will go through. There is a natural tendency for a new recruiter to try to place the candidate with the highest paying client without regard to ensuring a good fit. I do not do that. First, I rarely reduce my rates so I do not find myself in that temptation. Second, if a recruiter does try to game the placement, generally, the candidate will not be there long and the recruiter will be stuck finding a replacement or worst having to pay back any fees paid. In either case your reputation is damaged.
Q: Just like every work force has bad apples, are there ‘unethical recruiters’ ? If so how can a physician candidate spot them?
Unfortunately there are plenty of unethical recruiters. As in any field, it can be difficult to spot them. The easiest to do is only work with certified physician recruiters. Next you can ask for referrals. Ask physicians who recently joined the community how they got there and if they would recommend their recruiter. Talk with your prospective recruiter and ask how they plan to market you. Ask about their placement process. You will be asked to share a vast amount of information. Make sure you are comfortable with them at this point.
Q: How would you define an ideal physician recruiter?
1. Empathy – a sincere desire to help my clients and candidates to succeed.
2. Huge Ego – a very strong sense of self-esteem
3. Superior skill sets – excellent at all aspects of the sales process.
4. Market Knowledge – very comfortable with the specialties they deal in, who the top clients are and where the top training is at.
5. Training – They are board certified and more importantly continually investing in themselves.
Q: What would you do if you are asked to find candidates for a physician job, which in your opinion, is not a good job opportunity?
As long as the opportunity is fair, then generally it will be a good opportunity for someone. Opportunities that would not appeal to many physicians such as very rural or inner city positions are ideal positions for J1 visa candidates when the alternative is to go back to their home country for two years and then reapply for a visa. That being said, to answer your question, I would decline to work the job order of which I have done often. I have even resigned from working with clients who misrepresented themselves. We have in my firm very clear criteria to determine who we will work with. If at any time we learn new information with input from our candidates who go into interviews for example, we will reevaluate the relationship. I want to have very long-term relationships with my clients and candidates.
Q: How do you differentiate your physician recruiting company from the competition?
This is one of the most difficult things to do and be recognized for it. One of the things we try to do is be more communicative with our clients and prospects. My account executives provide weekly email updates of the status of searches for multiple positions. We try to be available 24/7 for our clients and candidates to be responsive to their needs. We listen to our candidates. This past summer I learned from more than one locum tenens physician that they did not like to book all the travel they do. I looked into it further and confirmed the sentiment with several other physicians. As a result, I launch Eskridge Worldwide Travel to specialize in the professional and personal travel needs of physicians. The physician can either continue booking themselves or call in to one of our travel clerks to get assistance. I have been very successful in developing relationships with the Army and Department of Veteran Affairs. This has allowed us to offer opportunities to our physicians without the need to more state licenses. We are constantly looking into ways to be different. Unfortunately, many times just doing what you say you will do is different enough.
Q: The myth is that the best physician jobs are filled by word of mouth, and the leftovers are sent to physician recruiters to fill. How true is that?
Not at all. Do my clients try to fill their needs on their own? …absolutely!
Do they advertise for openings and put them on their websites? …sure!
The physicians who are actively searching for a position will likely be the ones to respond to the advertisements. The ones who are not looking for a position will not…unless they get a call from a recruiter and tell them about an opportunity that has come up they thought the physician would be interested in based on previous conversations. I doubt a hospital administrator will spend their evenings cold calling prospects….but I will. Generally I get calls from my larger clients for assistance with harder to find sub-specialties. The smaller hospitals (~100 beds or less) with no recruiting staff generally call me for all openings that come up. All this is not to say positions do not get filled by word of mouth because they do. Unfortunately with the number of physicians dropping every year and with physicians retiring in greater numbers, facilities will need to use every resource they have to include recruiters to get the staff they need to remain accredited or even stay open.
Q: Any word of wisdom you may want to share with our readers?
Just like not every physician are equal, nor is every physician recruiter. There are good recruiters and bad recruiters. Invest the time and effort to locate a good physician recruiter. Find out who your contacts have used in the past. The best time to locate a recruiter is when you do not need one. Work with a recruiter who is board certified. This will give you additional assurance that you are working with a professional.
Bob Eskridge can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org