Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Job Search Expectation versus Realty

Author: Bob Priddy

If you’re thinking about nonclinical careers, you may have already begun looking at company web sites and job boards, trying to get a sense of what’s out there. You may have submitted your credentials online or contacted the recruiter listed with a particularly attractive job. However, none of these attempts has likely been encouraging. Why? What’s up with this?

What’s up is what happens when expectations run into reality.

First, your expectations. When you found your current position, whether a solo practice initially sponsored by a hospital, a partner in a group or an employee with a larger organization, your paths were similar. You
“put the word out” – your CV, either through some colleagues or with a recruiter (or two, or three…) and you waited for the phone to ring. And, it rang. You were invited to interview, everything was paid, and you had enjoyable collegial conversations with other practitioners, and if those were considered positive by all parties, the administrator presented you with a contract. With a little back and forth the deal was done.

You expect the same.

Now, reality. Today, you’re not sure what job you want or even if you want a job, per se. You may want to be a consultant or have some business where you’re the boss. You keep asking, what’s out there, but the answer you get is more likely to be, what do you want? The truth is, you don’t know. You can tell people what you want is something that uses your education and knowledge as well as the skills you’ve developed – you’ll be happy to do anything that fits that bill and has fewer hours than you’re currently working and pays you reasonably. Plus, you’d like it to be intellectually stimulating and challenging, and have some meaning or importance. Does this sound familiar?

The fallback position for most physicians is some pharma job or insurance. Those are people you know, people you interact with almost daily. Interestingly, most physicians don’t like these people, but it’s who they are willing to join. With this focus, you reach out to contacts and try to connect with some recruiters – the same thing you did for your current clinical post – sounds logical.

This is where expectations run head on into reality, and the wheels fall off your process.

You talk with pharma reps, and they’re as polite as usual, and they may offer to introduce you to their supervisor, but the usual offer is for you to present at their next dinner meeting – the end of the line. If you call a recruiter, the first question will be, what are you doing now – followed by: our clients are all looking for someone with experience.

After a few months of speaking with more recruiters and continuing to chat-up your pharma or insurance rep, you decide this isn’t working, isn’t going to work. What’s wrong? This is when you decide another degree may be the answer, an MBA! If only I had an MBA, they would all want me. If you’ve done this, you know the answer. When you call the recruiter now, and say, I just got my MBA, you’ll still be asked, what are you doing now. Same answer, same result.

The reality is you need a process, a roadmap. When you decided to become a physician, the roadmap was clear. You followed it precisely and voila, here you are today. And while the path was clearly marked, it wasn’t an easy path to travel. It’s the same today. And the process is more similar than you think.

Just like beginning the educational path that led you to be a physician, you first said, I want to be a doctor. You may have added a specialty to doctor, you may have not. Today, you say, I want to be a business person. That’s a good start. Next, educate yourself about business. No, you don’t need an MBA, but you do need to talk with business people, do some reading, go to a seminar – it’s easier than you think, and faster. The second part of your education is to learn more about yourself.

You’ve spent your lifetime becoming focused, becoming expert, becoming as good as you can be in your chosen specialty. If you’re asked today what you do, you’ll likely simply say, I’m a plastic surgeon, or I’m an internist, or a cardiologist… You expect others to know what those titles mean. And, they do, but only in the narrowest of definitions. Cardiologists take care of hearts, right… they also negotiate leases, convince non-compliant patients to take their meds, manage staff, buy equipment, study and learn new procedures, educate colleagues, staff and patients… etc, etc… They do a lot. All physicians do.

But your challenge today, is the reality that while your medical education, training and experience are the underpinnings of you next career, it’s the components, the individual pieces of what you’ve done that carry the greatest importance, not the sum. In other words, think of yourself not simply as the “sum of your parts,” but rather as each separate part.

As you enumerate your parts, you’ll discover some you truly enjoy and some you simply had to do. As you evaluate yourself, you’ll begin to answer that question, what do you want to do, differently. You’ll be able to say, as a diagnostic radiologist, it has been critical that I be able to explain complex procedures to patients, and often complex results to referring physicians. My job is very much about being a liaison among different groups to foster understanding and to help build a collective thought and focus. I’m an educator, but also, one who analyzes complex information and situations and charts a positive path for all. I’m very much a problem solver.

As you talk with more people, your definition of what you want to do will become further refined. As you describe your skills and attributes people begin talking with you about how they see those skills and attributes making a positive contribution to business settings. You’ll begin associating actual jobs with your skills and attributes, and soon, sooner than you might expect, someone will say, you’re exactly the kind of person we need – we never expected to be hiring a doctor for this job…

1.    Your past job search process won’t work.
2.    Define yourself by all the things you do well, not just by your title/your specialty.
3.    Talk with people – network
4.    Educate yourself about different businesses.
5.    Keep talking – your new process is more fluid and more spontaneous than your old one both in terms of focus and in terms of duration.

About the author:

Since 2002, Bob Priddy has coached, counseled and advised more than 900 physicians seeking non-clinical career transitions or restructured clinical practices; and he is President of third_Evolution, Non Clinical Careers for Physicians. Prior to third_Evolution, he served in physician practice management and consulting roles on both a local and national level, in senior health system administrative and operational positions with four health systems in the East and Midwest, as well as in senior administrative, marketing and product management positions with leading healthcare IT and marketing firms. Bob is an entrepreneur who knows Physicians, healthcare, and nonclinical industries. His coaching and advising approach is outcomes-based centered on the concepts of Focus, knowing what you want to do; Package, having the right materials to represent your career search or your new business venture; and Process, developing and implementing a logical strategy for your success. Read about him here.

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