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As a physician completing your training or an experienced physician looking for new practice opportunities, you may feel that you need help in your job search.

Reaching out to professionals who are well-versed in the job search process can be a smart move, especially if it is your first time searching. However, you need to be aware that not everyone "helping" you find a practice has your best interests in mind - especially physician recruiters.

Physician recruiters, especially contingency recruiters, generally exploit your unfamiliarity with the process. This can be a very lucrative endeavor for them, but could ultimately land you in a job you don’t want, in a location you don't like and cost you thousands of dollars.

Here are some of the potential pitfalls of using a physician recruiter.

Recruiters Are Not Free

Employers who hire physicians through a recruiter often have a recruitment cost. This cost can be upwards of $30,000 and typically averages about $20,000. You may wonder where this money comes from, most times the hospital covers it, but oftentimes it indirectly comes out of your salary.


Working with a recruiter is going to be expensive, regardless of whether you or the hospital has to foot the bill. This recruitment cost also makes your job search that much more difficult, as most hospitals are reluctant to bring you on when they potentially have to pay a $30,000 bill.

Undesirable Jobs

As a result of a recruiter’s limited scope, you may receive a host of undesirable jobs disguised as the perfect job. I think we've all seen the standard recruiter email of, "Perfect location, huge salary." If a job seems too good to be true and doesn’t offer a specific location, then most likely a recruiter is trying to place you in one of these hard-to-fill jobs.

The best practices often don't advertise their openings or list them with recruiters, as healthy practices in great locations can easily fill a position through their network of contacts - which is how Resolve finds practices for physicians. Learn more about Resolve's physician job search process here or request a free consultation.

Bad Locations

This piggybacks off the quality of recruiter jobs. Recruiters don’t want to spend their time with a physician trying to fill the jobs that everyone already wants.

For example, a physician looking for a practice in a highly desirable location like the San Francisco Bay area, would likely be competing with quite a few other candidates. The hiring practice is always going to choose the candidate who doesn't come with a $20,000 or $30,000 price tag.

Positions recruiters have to offer are generally in locations where an employer is desperate enough to cover the cost.

Where Do Their Loyalties Lie?

When an organization uses a recruiter to fill a position, they are the ones funding the recruiter’s work, either directly or indirectly. This creates a dynamic where the recruiter is committed to the interests of the employer first, and your interests second. Clearly, you don’t want someone searching for your next job that is not fully committed to finding jobs that match your needs and expertise.

Also, a recruiter is almost never going to negotiate your salary on your behalf. If this is a service they claim to provide, then it best to walk away. There is absolutely no incentive for a recruiter to go against the employer who hired them and try to create an additional cost by increasing your salary. The loyalties of the physician recruiter lies with the employer, not the job seeker.

Misleading Marketing

Oftentimes recruiters will advertise themselves as “job search experts.” They try to lend credibility to themselves by advertising their services along with licensure guidelines and other helpful job search tips.

If you are reading an article or blog post that suggests using recruiters, really scrutinize the material and website to find out if you are being sold a recruitment service. Remember that the recruiter’s ultimate goal is to make you marketable to employers so they can fill positions as quickly as possible. Being more marketable may sound nice, but if it doesn’t truly reflect your skills, expertise, and what you want in your next job, then you can end up in a job you never wanted.

What Recruiters Are Not

In addition to advertising themselves as job search experts, recruiters may also claim that they offer “career counseling” or “professional CV” services. While they may have looked over several CVs, they are not necessarily experts in drafting or editing your CV. Also, they are not experts in the market, as they will probably be focused on a certain specialty or geographic area.

This leads them to want to focus your job search where they can find you jobs, not where the jobs that you want are. As mentioned previously, some employers aren’t willing to work with recruiters because of the hefty price tag, so this limits your options immediately.

Not every recruiter is out to fool you into using their services so that they can place you in jobs that no one wants. However, anytime you use a recruiter’s service, you are taking a risk that you are not only going to be absorbing a huge cost, but that you will also be working in a less than desirable job.

If you decide to reach out for professional help, you need to find an organization that searches with your best interest in mind. Resolve works on your behalf to find the jobs that you want, where you want them. We use our network of physicians so that you can bypass recruiters while getting all of the services you need for a successful job search. Find out more by clicking here.

When to Avoid Physician Recruiters

Sidney Christiansen, MD