Physician recruiter sitting at desk


Hey there, in this episode of The Career Rx, we’re going to talk about recruiters. Specifically using a recruiter as a physician.

For those thinking about working with a specialized physician recruiter, especially for the purpose of getting a non-clinical job or a big leadership role, these are the questions I’m often asked:

Should you work with a recruiter?

Are recruiters helpful when you’re looking for a new job?

How do you find a recruiter?

How much should you pay a recruiter?


In This Episode of The Career Rx We’ll Discuss:


  • The different types of recruiters you can work with as a physician.
  • The benefits of using a recruiter vs. applying directly to a position.
  • How recruiters work with companies and the rules that exist.
  • The best time to network with recruiters.
  • Working with recruiters to communicate your skills for an ideal role.

*Also, get access to free webinar training on how you can transition to a non-clinical role!






Want to get access to the latest podcast? Subscribe on your preferred podcast player…

Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Spotify | TuneIn + Alexa | iHeart Radio


TRANSCRIPT AND SHOW NOTES (Why Use a Physician Recruiter? 5 Things You Need to Know)


When starting your job search a physician recruiter can help you…

  • Find a new leadership role.
  • Pivot outside your current field.
  • Move to a non-clinical role.
  • Try something different from what you’re doing today.

I think it’s really important to consider recruiters as a physician, especially when you’re networking online, using LinkedIn and other professional tools. You’ll want to decide how you want to be contacted by recruiters and whether or not you want to proactively engage with recruiters yourself.

For whatever reason, it seems many physicians are not keen on working with recruiters.

I wonder if people have had unsatisfying experiences, or maybe have a preconceived notion that may not be entirely true.

So today I’ll be sharing what you need to know about working with recruiters as a physician.

Before we get started, I want to remind those who are considering a career pivot or non-clinical career transition, to watch my free webinar – Transition to Industry 101.

Transition to Industry - Free Webinar and Q&A for Doctors

It’s a one hour webinar about transitioning to industry and how you can pursue a non-clinical career shift. It was designed in a Q&A style (from real submissions) to answer the big questions about whether you require further education, what to expect regarding salary, and so forth.


Why Use a Physician Recruiter? 5 Things You Need to Know…


1. There are Several Different Types of Recruiters

The first thing you should know is there are several types of recruiters with different business models.

There are advantages and disadvantages for each type of recruiter. Understanding the kind of recruiter you’re working will help you get the best results with that recruiter.


Here are the 4 main types of recruiters you can expect to work with as a physician:


Recruiter sitting at her desk

Which type of physician recruiter is right for you?

In-house Talent Acquisition

This is the internal recruiter that works for a specific large company.

They’re employed by the company and their entire job is to recruit and fill roles within that company.

They may recruit broadly across the business for all kinds of jobs, or they might be focused on a specific job type within the company (a specific skill set, type of position, or even a specific level of seniority).

What does this mean for you?

In-house talent acquisition will be able to get you in the door as it’s their door.

It also means though, the opportunities they discuss with you are limited to whatever is going on inside that company at that time.

There are benefits to working with in-house talent acquisition folks, but realize they are not going to have the breadth of opportunities as external physician recruitment firms.


External Physician Recruiters

These are individuals or firms that are getting paid by multiple companies for recruiting a successful hire.

Also, the hiring organization is also likely engaged with more than one external recruiting firm.

This is the “contingent upon hire” model, meaning the recruiter or firm gets paid when they secure a successful candidate into a role.

The advantage of using an external recruiter:

The recruiter is trying to fill roles across many different organizations. So, they’ll have many more opportunities on their radar – across multiple companies and more broadly across the industry as compared to in-house talent acquisition.

A disadvantage of external recruiters:

They get paid to land any successful candidate into a role. So, they would get paid if they recruited you, but also anyone else.

They could be putting forth as many qualified candidates as possible, hoping that some of them get hired. This puts you in a position to be competing with other candidates external recruiters are also helping.

Of course, all recruiters including in-house talent acquisition, will look at multiple candidates, but among the models I’m presenting here, external firms are more likely to be looking at the most candidates.


Exclusively Retained Recruiter or Firm

When a recruiter is exclusively retained, it means they’re working with an organization one-on-one.

That recruiter or their firm is going to do a lot of vetting. They’ll sift through all of the potential candidates and only present highly qualified candidates to the organization.

The organization in turn will hire one of those folks as they aren’t working with other recruiters due to the exclusive agreement.

It can obviously be really fantastic working with an exclusive recruitment firm. To make sure you’re the right fit for a given role they’ll want to get to know you first.

They are often under privacy rules, won’t be able to tell you a lot about the role until they’ve heard from you.

If they think you’re a good fit, and ready to go to bat for you, then they can tell you more.

So, expect to jump through a few hoops to impress that exclusively retained recruiter first.

It’s extremely advantageous to develop relationships with these types of recruiters as when the right opportunity arises they’ll be motivated to get you into that role.

The big takeaway: If you get the chance, always have a conversation with an exclusively retained recruiter. Why? They will do a lot of work to advocate for you and sell you to an organization. You might not be the right fit for the role they are contacting you for initially, but that’s okay. This is a relationship worth developing!


Personal Headhunter

A personal headhunter is similar to an external recruiter, meaning they can place you with a variety of companies, but the key difference is you pay for their services.

I would give this some really careful consideration.

Often, a personal headhunter asks for payment upfront, and they are supposed to help you get a job. They might have the connections and the advice, but I would be wary of this model unless there is a guarantee or you have a strong personal recommendation from a colleague.

On the other hand, if the personal headhunter gets paid after they find you a job – not before – that’s different.

They will, therefore, be very motivated (just as motivated as you are) to help you find a job.

I would caution paying upfront without any guaranteed deliverable.


2. Is It Better to Apply Directly or Through a Recruiter?


The quick answer: You can be more successful with a recruiter than applying directly through an online portal.

Working with a recruiter (specifically applying through a recruiter) is always better than a direct application if you don’t know someone at the company.

Therefore, do not submit online to a ‘black hole’ (LinkedIn or the company’s website). The other end of that is probably a computer doing keyword screening or a human resources screener who may not understand your skills or the job very well.

There are strategies to help you improve your game this way, and be able to match your resume to the job posting. But a computer that is scanning your resume for specific keywords or an HR professional who might not understand your job experience is not going to fare better than a recruiter.

If you submit your resume or CV into a direct application link, you very often will never hear anything back. Or, you get a quick and impersonal rejection notice. In fact, you will very often have your application dismissed before a real person has ever looked at it.


A recruiter, on the other hand, will put you in front of the key decision-maker/hiring manager.


Throughout this podcast episode, I’ll be talking about the hiring manager. Not to be confused with HR, the hiring manager is your future boss. It doesn’t sound glamorous, but this is the equivalent of your department chair, senior partner in your practice, etc.

A hiring manager knows what they want in the candidate. They’re the ones who can weigh in on your transferable skills which are key when looking for a new position.

The recruiter will sell you to the hiring manager and this is why you have to know how to sell yourself to help them help you. Check out the professional branding playlist to help you with this.

The professional branding playlist will help you articulate your transferable skills and really tell the story of your professional accomplishments and aspirations. You can, therefore, help someone like a recruiter do that on your behalf.

*Don’t forget! We are talking about this in the free Transition to Industry 101 webinar as well.


3. Every Recruiter Has Rules on How They Work with Companies


The third thing you need to know about working with recruiters is they have rules about how they work with the companies.

Many people forget that because a recruiter gets paid for placing a candidate, if you’re simultaneously having direct contact with the hiring manager this might disqualify the recruiter from earning money for your placement.

It could be they’re now disqualified from helping you with that company, division or perhaps just with that one particular hiring manager. It might be just for that role, or for some period of time.

So it’s important you have awareness of this if you are also exploring your network to see if you have a way to reach the hiring manager.

If you’re reaching out to both, suddenly, you may be in a position where a recruiter is not able to help you. So be sure that you DO have a favorable relationship that will help you with the hiring manager – don’t burn any bridges.


A Personal Example:


I don’t mind sharing that earlier in my career, I was approached by a recruiter about a role under a person I knew. So, I actually knew the boss and I was completely unaware of how this worked from the recruiter perspective.

I reached out to the boss personally, and then when I answered the recruiter, I mentioned that I had spoken to the hiring manager and how interesting it was. She immediately replied back that she couldn’t help me.

Fortunately, in that case, I wasn’t actually pursuing the role. I was mostly interested in catching up with the hiring manager, and I was following my own general advice of always responding to recruiters when they reach out.

However, this was a mistake in terms of how to work with a recruiter.

This illustrates how you may inadvertently sabotage your chances of building a relationship by pursuing both at the same time. (I explained to the recruiter that I was just naive – she was very helpful and understanding in educating me about how this works!).


4. Network with Recruiters When You’re Not Job Searching


This way you get to know specific recruiters when you have the leisure of time to make phone calls.

In advance, you can go over your resume and tell them what you want to develop. By creating a relationship and staying in touch can save time when an opportunity does arise.

Therefore if you are suddenly looking for a job, you’ll have a few people you can reach out to. They’ll already know you and will, therefore, be interested in helping you land the perfect role.

The main benefit of networking with a recruiter before you’re officially job searching is they’ll have you in mind when an amazing opportunity comes up that aligns with your skills and goals.

Always keep in mind that you shouldn’t just be networking with professional colleagues and future bosses here. You should get to know recruiters as well so they can be the professional matchmakers they really are.


5. Recruiters Will Help Showcase Your Skills


Recruiters can be helpful even if you’re not right for a given role.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re not going to give you a whole resume makeover, but if you listen to their feedback and questions you will gain a lot of insight to be an appealing candidate.

If you’re having a tough time qualifying for a role, recruiters will often give feedback and advice.

Whether it’s getting more experience or communicating your transferable skills differently recruiters can help.


Relationships are super important here.

If you have blown off recruiters when they want to connect, don’t expect them to help redo your resume. However, if you’re having these conversations over time, you can pick up on their tips.

Recruiters have a professional interest in successfully placing candidates (for financial and professional reputation). So, they want to help you get those roles and will put their best foot forward for you.

Therefore, the more interested you are in nurturing this kind of network, the more you can leverage their expertise. Not only for getting a role but also understanding how to approach a role to be a successful candidate.

Before I go, don’t forget to access my free on-demand webinar training – Transition to Industry 101.

Transition to Industry - Free Webinar and Q&A for Doctors

If you are thinking about applying for a leadership role or making a career change this webinar will be a very eye-opening hour. I’ll be answering your top questions about making a major career change out of clinical work and into industry.


Final Thoughts on Using a Recruiter as a Physician


If you are a physician seeking employment or a career change, I hope this helped you learn a little more about how to work effectively with recruiters.

You now understand how a recruiter can help you, the different types of recruiters available, and how a recruiter’s business model works.

You also have a few notes of caution of perhaps what not to do so you can make the best decision when finding the right recruiter for your career advancement.

I know you may not want to go to your usual mentors, colleagues, or bosses about this question. That’s why I am here for you with this episode, my additional resources, and the courses that have helped others successfully make that leap.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx!

Please be sure to subscribe and leave me a review on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. Also, be sure to send me your questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode.

Bye for now,



Related Career Development Resources:

Pin It on Pinterest