Sourcing and Placing Physician Candidates for “Difficult” Openings

In-house physician recruiters are asked to do a difficult job. Competition for candidates is intense, bosses demand results, scheduling phone calls and interviews around multiple physician’s schedules can be crazy, and neither anticipating or answering every question a physician candidate may have about a particular job is very easy either. And that is just the “regular” physician jobs.  How can in-house physician recruiters work to fill the “challenging” positions that require extra effort?

Make your job stand out with specific details.  Most physician job advertisements are written with a lot of general information and few specifics in order to appeal to a maximum number of candidates.  However, difficult positions require a specific candidate to take on whatever challenges exist.  Also, physicians are generally very scientific people, and presenting them with facts rather than general information can be very beneficial.  Try replacing general phrases like “competitive salary and benefits” with a specific salary range, the exact amount of vacation time, and specific insurance types, and you will attract more candidates who have prescreened themselves to a higher degree than do candidates who respond to a very general ad.

Every job has selling points, and it’s a must to get that information in front of potential candidates at the first opportunity.  With a difficult-to-fill job, it’s not enough to just say that you need a physician at xyz hospital in such-and-such community.  In order to fill difficult physician jobs, you will have to emphasize selling points like pay and benefits, schedule and lifestyle, schools and community, nearby attractions, lack of competition, future earning potential, leadership opportunities, autonomy, retention of past employees, etc.  This information should be given freely to any source of candidates that you use, whether it’s an online job board such as, or a third party recruiting firm.

Complete honesty helps to establish your credibility and is essential for filling difficult physician jobs.  For example, don’t exaggerate your job’s proximity to a nearby metro area by saying it’s 30 minutes away when it’s really 40.  You may attract a few additional candidates on the front end with that kind of tactic, but on the back end, they may realize the exaggeration, and if the physician candidate comes to question your honesty, then you won’t be filling your job with that person, and your efforts will have been wasted.

There are also technical aspects to advertising physician jobs that you can influence to your advantage.  Be sure to put the physician specialty into your titles, as well some version of the word “job” (opportunity, position, employment, etc).  A bad title might read “Welcome to Sunny Arizona,” and a good title might say “Family Practice Job in Sunny Arizona.” The reason one is good and the other is bad is that search engines like Google are smart enough to recognize titles, and they use that information to “index” or categorize your advertisement.  A good title will result in better chances of your ad coming up for a relevant search, and a bad title won’t result in anything.  Another technical tip for effective advertising of physician jobs is to avoid duplicating ads.  Search engines can penalize webpages that offer duplicate content, so it’s more effective to write a unique ad for each venue.  Duplicate ads will still work, but they won’t be as effective as unique ads.

Try something different.  If you have a difficult to fill job, most likely you have already been recruiting for the position for some time.  Try rewriting your advertisements to emphasize different aspects of the job.  Try out a new job board, attend a new job fair, or use a new search firm.  None of these options will cost more than your hospital loses by not having the physician it needs.

There is obviously no silver bullet for filling a difficult physician job.  However, you can make a big difference by adding the above steps to your work effort and persistence.

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