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3 Things You Need to Start Your Physician Job Search

Jackson Physician Search
July 1, 2022

Whether you are working crazy resident hours or just scrambling to keep up with your current physician job, chances are you simply don’t have enough hours in your day to focus on your physician job search. Your perception isn’t wrong–you are likely busier than most people you know! And yet, somehow you must make time to search for your first (or next) physician job. 

When “job search” is on your to-do list, it can be hard to know where to begin. So, in an effort to make it more manageable, we’re assigning three tasks to get you started. Don’t waste any more time scrolling physician job boards until you have the following three things completed, polished, and ready to submit as needed. 

1. An Impressive Physician CV

The task of writing a CV may sound daunting, but again, if you break it into sections, it shouldn’t be difficult. Start with a blank page in Word or Google docs and beneath your name and contact information (address, phone, and email), list the following headings followed by the relevant details: 

Start with the most recent institution (provide the full name and location) and work backward. Include the years of study, degree earned, areas of focus, special qualifications, and distinctions. 

Again, start with the most recent and work backward listing places of employment, locations, and dates. Use bullets to briefly describe your accomplishments in the role, noting procedure and patient volumes, administrative duties, leadership roles, or committee memberships. Offer a concise explanation for any gaps in employment.  

Note states where you are currently licensed and the status of any applications. Also include board certification or status.

If applicable, list any awards, honors, or professional affiliations. 

If applicable, list publications and presentations.

Your CV is your first chance to impress a recruiter, so it should accurately (and concisely) reflect your professional accomplishments. It should also include personal details relevant to your job search, such as citizenship and/or visa requirements. Proofread your CV for typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors. Some recruiters may assume that sloppiness on the CV could mean sloppiness on the job. 

2. A Targeted Cover Letter

When applying for jobs online, a cover letter may not seem necessary, but avoid the temptation to skip this important step. The cover letter is your chance to provide context for your CV and show the recruiter who you are and why you are interested in the job. 

“Broaden your thinking about what a ‘cover letter’ should be,” says JPS Director of Recruiting Katie Moeller. “It could be an email, a few sentences at the top of your CV, or a short paragraph copied into an online ATS. Don’t worry about the format, but focus on its purpose–to introduce your CV, outline what you are looking for, or explain why you are a good fit for a particular job.”

A good cover letter is crafted in response to a specific job opening and notes the reasons for your interest in that particular job. However, in preparation for your physician job search, you should craft a cover letter template that can be adapted for the individual opportunities to which you are applying. 

While each cover letter must be specific to the opportunity, there are a few standards to apply in every scenario: 

  • Express enthusiasm for the opportunity and note why it is appealing to you
  • Highlight any skills or experiences that are especially relevant to the job for which you are applying
  • If necessary, request confidentiality
  • Be concise
  • Follow business etiquette, but do not be overly formal
  • Proofread for typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors

3. A List of Professional References 

Of course, you have people who can vouch for you, so you may think there is no need to spend time preparing a list of references. And while you don’t need it when first submitting an application, it is worth taking the time now to think through who should be on your list and contact them and ask if they are willing to take calls from prospective employers. If you compile this list before it is needed, you will keep the application process moving forward without delay–something that benefits both you and your potential employer.

Katie Moeller agrees. “Candidates shouldn’t include references on the CV,” she says, ‘However, it’s helpful when they have already prepared a list of references who are ready and willing to be contacted by potential employers. Those references should be prepared to take calls from unknown numbers and respond to email requests.”  

So first things first, who should you ask to be a reference? You want to provide a variety of sources. You will need to include a recent supervisor or manager as well as a physician peer or even an advanced practice provider who you have worked well with.  Other impressive references would be administrators or the chair or chief of medicine at your training program.

Reach out to each potential reference and ask their permission to share their contact information with potential employers who may reach out to them. Confirm that they are willing to respond to these inquiries. You may also want to tell them a little about your job search–why you are looking and the type of employment you are seeking. If you know you will be working to overcome objections–job hopping or gaps in employment–you may want to share your explanation for those issues so they can reinforce your messaging.

Once you have these three things polished and ready to submit, you are ready to set up job alerts, scroll physician job boards, and reach out to a physician recruiter. Of course, if you need further guidance with any of these steps, a recruiter at Jackson Physician Search would be happy to help. Contact us today or download the Physician Job Search Playbook for everything you need to know to get started.


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