How to Recruit Me, For My Recruiters

A few months ago, I read a great post by a locum recruiter, I suspect targeted towards other recruiters, on his advice for recruiting locum tenens providers like myself. Over the last few years, on the other end of the conversation, I’ve dealt with companies I’ve liked and loathed, recruiters that have understood me and been at a loss, and had my fair share of emotions towards the process. At the end of the day, I estimate that in a period of 24 months, I’ve interacted with around a DOZEN various locum agencies and likely DOUBLE that in recruiters. It has become clear to me some of the inner workings of these agencies and the focus on employee retention vs the pressure for commission, solely based on the amount of turnover I’ve come across unintentionally, or the subconscious understanding of great inter-corporation communication versus not. At the end of the day, I have chosen to avoid certain agencies that seem to be splitting at the seams – if your employees aren’t happy, aren’t sticking around, or aren’t talking to each other, it surely doesn’t make me feel excited as a potential provider; but, I know that’s something hard for someone to control. All that being said, the following are a few things I wish all agents would pay some attention to when seeking me out as a new locum tenens hire; and, while all people are likely different, I would surmise that many of these tenants may hold true for other providers out there…

  1. Be Interested in My Best Interests – I will never forget when I had naively early on discussed with a recruiter that I had come across a great opportunity to be a direct contractor with a hospital. He sneakily told me, “Psst, just contract directly with them and cut out the agency…” Obviously this isn’t something that any agency would like to hear their recruiter say and obviously it’s not great for his business either; but, it truly showed that he gave a sh*t about MY best interests. Others have encouraged I take vacations and have warned me about jobs they KNOW are bad, “Well, there’s this job in North Carolina… And I know you want to go there, but I wouldn’t do that to you, all of my other providers that have gone there have hated it.” While agency differences in certain aspects have not quite fit with my personal goals, I have intentionally stayed in touch with these recruiters and have passed along jobs when I’ve heard of them or new providers when I’ve met them (which, is pretty rare). I was told very early on by another physician, “They do NOT care about you. Do NOT be fooled.” I unfortunately have realized that’s often the case, which is why I’m picky about who I associate with.
  2. Understand What I Want – As a salesman, you have to know what you’re selling and who you’re selling to. It makes no sense to try to sell a computer to an Amish person, just like it doesn’t make sense to sell me a job I clearly don’t want to do. I can’t count the number of times i’ve had to re-explain to agencies that I don’t want to do any outpatient clinic jobs. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to repeat that certain places are just not for me. Listening to what I want and catering to that specifically makes me want to listen to what you’re selling. When an agent continues to offer me jobs that clearly don’t fit me, I stop giving them the time of day.
  3. Understand Who I Am and the Work I Do – I remember when I first started looking for work and was offered locum jobs with ADULTS. I remember having to explain so often that I only work with Pediatrics. Ugh. I don’t expect my recruiters to necessarily know the ins and outs of medical training, but understanding how medical school, residency and fellowship all go along can make a pretty decent difference in knowing who can do what job. I’ve had to reiterate many times that while i’m a fully licensed physicians, my residency was only with children and that internal medicine and family medicine are completely different realms. Understanding some part of medical education helps to triage the appropriate jobs and also understand my basic skill set. Not only does it make it easier to present a job to me, but it helps to not waste either of our times. Nothing more annoying then hearing a great opportunity has popped up and then finding out by the end of the conversation that it’s not in my wheelhouse at all – No, I can NOT do Pediatric Intensive Care… That requires fellowship… No, I do NOT do Pediatric Surgery, I am NOT a surgeon… No, I do NOT deliver babies…..
  4. There’s a Fine Line Between Persistence and Harassment – I am a huge huge believer and advocate for Persistence. A good salesman HAS to push. I’ve been very persistent as well in my life and it’s the main thing I credit to any of my success, so I respect others that are the same. However, sometimes it can become too much and then borders the line of harassment. Notably, after I turned down one agent for a company that has had a new recruiter call me MONTHLY, I then endured getting a phone call from him EVERY SINGLE DAY for a month until I reported him to someone else in his company who was able to snuff the issue. If i can’t do the job or don’t want to do the job, my mind has been made up. No means no. Not only did i lose respect for the recruiter but also his entire company. The commission is NOT worth pushing a decent provider away that might be willing to come back later.
  5. Relationships, References and the Like – Unfortunately, in my world, I do not know a ton of other providers of my specialty that do locum tenens – it just isn’t as common in Pediatrics. However, with the above points, if I do come across a new provider, I’m happy to refer them back to the recruiters I like. I have had some of my earlier agents stay in touch with me to see how i’m doing WITHOUT asking if i have met anyone new for them – as above, that genuine interest in how i’m doing and my goals makes a stronger relationship. Even if the phone call really is just to see if I can give them more business, it feels good when it’s not obvious and even better when it’s sincerely to see how I’m doing. That being said, this is totally not necessary – and if you’re one of my current recruiters, i’m not talking about you!
  6. Respond Fast, Respond Efficiently – I once had a recruiter that found me the best rate for a job that I had heard until that point; however, he would take sometimes up to TWO WEEKS TO RESPOND. You can imagine how annoying this was, especially when it was about shortages on my checks or arranging a place to stay less than 30 days from a new job commencing. When I did intermittently hear from him, he would send these awkward one word texts in multiple messages instead of a coherent efficient message… So odd, and so off-putting. This also goes for getting information to me on time regarding the job, the dates, etc. There’s nothing like waiting endlessly or putting off other scheduling waiting to hear back on something.
  7. Sometimes, Business is Business – Now, as much as I’m a strong proponent of relationships and all of the niceties of recruiter-provider interactions above, there is something to be said about business. I have a bottom line and sometimes if that can’t be meet, the nicest person in the world won’t be able to sell me something. It’s not personal when these things happen, but sensibly when all other odds are evened out, who could blame someone for taking the better offer. Compensation is compensation, and while it doesn’t take priority for me over a perfect fit, it is certainly a consideration for a less than optimal situation.
  8. Space – Sometimes, all that’s needed is a little space. Recruitment goes both ways, and I will seek out the opportunity when necessary.
  9. Sell the Location – Less of a concern for myself personally as a Nomad able to find the pros and cons for most places, even my small towns of only 5,000 people, location can be a great reason to go explore a new site. Unfortunately, as most of my coverage is in areas that have a hard time finding people this might not always come up, it’s always alluring to hear about the “beautiful coastal town in California” or the “hospital in Central Maine surrounded by lakes.” I can imagine from the few people I know that do locums, that this might be a selling point.
  10. Transparency and Trust – Ultimately, at the end of the day, one of the most important parts for me with work is transparency and trust. Are my getting exactly what was promised, or are my being told something that isn’t quite 100% accurate. I’ve had recruiters be honest with me about the numbers and what they can reasonably meet me at – It’s garnered more respect and my return business. It is the worst feeling to feel that you’ve been screwed over by someone and the few times this has almost happened to me have made me very wary of trusting the next person.

At the end of the day, I personally feel there is some finesse to being a great recruiter or salesman. Just like any jobs that require social skills and interactions, there is a great necessity to be able to “read the room” or read between the lines. It’s kind of like dating really. On average, I receive at least a few calls, emails or texts each week with new jobs and becoming inundated with these requests makes me even less likely to respond to future ones – being too aggressive can be a turnoff. Remembering that a provider is a human and focusing on that first can lead to longevity of a relationship with them as a client. Sometimes people need some space. Being focused on life outside of the job and the sale might take a little more effort, but with the longterm goal in mind of continuity, it’s the best way to build the strongest bridges.

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