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Recruiting Digital Natives: Why Today’s Physicians Respond to a Job Posting

Helen Falkner
December 12, 2023

Digitally native physicians – those who grew up with the internet at their fingertips – operate differently when it comes to recruiting. How can you capture their attention with a job posting and stand out in a sea of opportunity?

Today’s youngest physicians are the last of the Millennials, and as such, they have grown up in a digital society. Their days – and their careers – are powered by technology. From ever-present mobile devices that keep their schedules on track to the electronic health records that put a patient’s history at their fingertips, young Millennial physicians are wired to be online. This is also where they seek or learn about employment opportunities, whether actively or passively looking for a new role.

Jackson Physician Search has long championed a 100% digital physician recruitment strategy. Just as we pioneered the shift from direct mail campaigns to multiple online physician job boards and extensive email marketing, we also have been one of the first to adopt online professional networking to enhance and accelerate physician recruitment. Today, our digital candidate acquisition process includes posting all jobs on 10+ job boards, sending targeted email campaigns to the industry’s largest opted-in database, providing every recruiter on our team with a license to recruit on Doximity, and maximizing visibility with an extensive social media strategy.

While digital recruiting isn’t new, it is nuanced, depending on the complexity of the search. Perhaps the location is remote, or the patient population faces unique challenges; maybe the compensation is lower than the median, or supply and demand in the specialty is extremely unbalanced. The more complicated the search, the more important the right mix of digital tools will be.

Start With the Right Physician Job Profile

The best physician job ads have four things in common:

  • They are clear and concise: To the best of your ability, include the most attractive and important details in the job title or headline. This means in the span of 8-12 words, the headline should communicate the specialty, location, and one or two differentiators, such as flexibility, compensation, leadership opportunity, or governance.
  • They highlight positive differentiators addressing physicians’ most important wants and needs: Is it a flexible opportunity that includes telehealth, or is the opportunity with an FQHC and/or in a healthcare desert where the candidate will treat an underserved community? These are differentiators that will resonate with the right candidate, so lead with them. 
  • They identify physician compensation expectations: Many clients aren’t willing to disclose salary information in a job post – after all, that is the job offer, not the job post – but those who do may find they have a leg up in attracting viable candidates.
  • They paint a positive and relatable picture of the location: Remember that you’re likely recruiting a family, not just a physician, so paint an accurate and compelling picture of your location. Candidates not only want to know facts (population, cost of living, taxes, etc.), they want to know what it is close to (airports, major metros, beaches, mountains, universities), what activities are popular in the area (theaters, museums, hiking, fishing, skiing, surfing), and other details like the quality of schools, the prevalence of retail, restaurants, breweries, and more.

A thorough job profile that gives candidates what they are looking for will turn clicks into conversations.

Understand what the pool of candidates looks like before you start digital outreach. Are you recruiting for a highly specialized position with fewer opportunities like it out there, making your candidate pool small? Or is it one of hundreds of openings for a primary care, mental health, or advanced practice clinician requiring a stand-out job profile? Is it a rural location with a chance for a lower-stress lifestyle, or is there another element to the practice that will make it attractive to the right person? Knowing which specialties are in the highest demand means you can prepare to be more competitive in your recruitment strategy, be it a signing bonus, more flexibility, or broader search parameters.

Know what younger physicians want. Time and time again, Millennials and Gen X job seekers have told us that work-life balance, compensation, and location are the three most important factors in making a career move. On the other hand, our latest research into early-career physicians (those with six or fewer years of experience) confirms that while compensation (50%) is their most important need in a first position, the driving motivator to leave that first job was practice ownership/governance (35%), indicating a substantial shift in priorities. Understanding these motivators and featuring them prominently in our outreach tells the potential candidates that we understand what they’re looking for – and that we can be a good partner in helping them meet their goals.

A strategic approach to marketing the job’s positive differentiators – above-average compensation, high recruitment incentives, an attractive location, fast career growth, a flexible schedule, and/or other attributes that support a positive work-life balance can be key to attracting the ideal candidate.

Make your job profile mobile-friendly. Because physicians are more often working from a mobile device than a desktop, it’s important that digital marketing tools take a mobile-first approach. Is the headline prominent? Is the opportunity clear? Optimizing for mobile is paramount in an age where people scan instead of read.

Create multiple touchpoints. Repetition has always been a key to effective marketing, and it’s true for physician recruiting. Social channels like LinkedIn, digital job boards, and Doximity are all channels that physicians frequent.

Make it personal through email, phone calls, and text messaging. Converting clicks to conversations is more likely when you have a compelling job profile that moves passive lookers to active seekers if the opportunity is right. Remember that active job seekers might get up to 15 messages a day, so the job profile must be enticing for your call, email, or text message to break through. Only if candidates engage are prospective employers/recruiters able to “sell” their opportunity.

From Clicks to Conversations to Success

Once you have candidates in the pipeline, what is the best way to connect with them?  Are younger physicians more interested in having online conversations vs. getting on the phone/Zoom? While we pride ourselves on being first movers in digital recruiting, we know it works best when we don’t rely ONLY on digital to carry our message. When the candidate pool begins to emerge, high-touch outreach is required. Our goal is always to get candidates on the phone to ensure they have answers to their questions and share details of the position that might match their interests and experience.

In addition to making ourselves available on nights and weekends when physicians are more available to talk, we lean into intel from our recent Physician Recruitment Trends: Responding to a Post-Pandemic Market report, which tells us a few things about the market and how long we should expect for it to take to fill a position. For example:

  • We are placing more physicians year after year.
  • Primary Care Physician placements were static in 2020 and 2021 but increased 24% in 2022. Much of that was demand from rural organizations.
  • Mental health provider placements have risen 85% from 2020 to 2022.

The report also indicates that a few things are changing across the board  when it comes to recruiting:

  • Physician signing bonuses are more of the standard than an exception. 
  • Flexible schedules are also more the standard now. 
    • Four-day work weeks are no longer a differentiator but an expectation.
    • Physicians are seeking a better work-life balance.
  • Demand for APPs continues to grow. In 2022, Jackson Physician Search saw four times the volume of Nurse Practitioner placements than in 2020. CRNA demand is also at an all-time high, as are the hiring rates.

In an ever-tightening and ever-young recruitment market, a clear understanding of the need, a well-considered and differentiated job profile, and a robust digital marketing program combined with high-touch personal outreach constitute the gold standard for recruiting, producing the most successful searches. As you recruit younger physicians, consider how their experience differs from those who are older, and don’t wait to start thinking about the next step in your journey – building a great retention program.

If your organization is hiring physicians, the team at Jackson Physician Search can help you develop a digital physician recruitment strategy that resonates with today’s physicians. Reach out today to learn more.

About Helen Falkner

As the daughter of a physician and an Iowa native, Helen has witnessed firsthand the impact a great physician can have on a community. She joined Jackson Physician Search at the company’s headquarters in Alpharetta, GA, as an entry-level Research Consultant in 2012. Through her consistent success as an individual contributor and manager, Falkner progressed quickly to Partner in 2018 and assumed her role as Regional Vice President of Recruiting for Jackson Physician Search’s Western Division in October 2020. In January 2021, she relocated to the firm’s Denver office, where she leads a team of successful physician recruiters while actively continuing to recruit for her clients.


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