PhysEmp, one of the first physician job boards, continues to thrive 30 years later
PhysEmp was founded in 1994 by Bob Truog, who continues to helm the company in 2022.
Since the 1990s, medical recruiting and hiring practices have evolved right along with the advanced search technology that powers the industry. In this article we’ll explore what has happened, what it means, and how it may affect the future of the field.
Physicians Employment (PhysEmp.com) started as a print quarterly publication in 1990, offering job listings for physicians.
In early 1994, online jobs postings began to appear. A hospital administrator or recruiter looking to post an online job ad for a physician really had only one destination, and that was Yahoo, the first and only search engine at the time. No specialized job boards existed yet. Many recruiters and hospitals opted to have their website registered on the Yahoo Directory.
PhysEmp.com is born
The PhysEmp.com website was launched in November 1994. Within a week, the response was so great that founder Truog understood that print classified ads would be phased out eventually, replaced by online jobs advertising.
With PhysEmp.com listed on Yahoo, a search by a physician for “physician jobs” returned hundreds of pages of results. To the job searcher, it was overwhelming. Doctors looking for open positions in a particular specialty had to spend long hours combing through all those pages.
Making things even more difficult, most ads didn’t include the locations of the practice or hospital.
Soon, other search sites came online, including Alta Vista and Lycos, offering similar kinds of unwieldy experiences.
By the late-‘90s, when Google came on the scene, its search results were immediately superior to all other search engines. Job seekers could now home in on a specific specialty and see exactly where the job was. Other job boards sprang up. Overnight, Google transformed search by displaying, for example, 10 different relevant sites rather than 10 PhysEmp.com pages. The other search engines could not compete.
The dominance of keywords
Posters of jobs quickly came to understand that keywords were important to Google’s search algorithms. Since Google was precise in serving content relative to keyword choices, many websites responded by stuffing their websites with keywords in order to rank higher and draw more traffic.
Businesses now filled their homepages with these terms, including invisible meta keywords taht could be embedded in the code.
The more keywords you could jam into a page, the higher up in the organic results you’d appear. Even with Google’s plain, unadorned interface, job seekers began to flock to the site.
Eventually, Google’s policy changed to prohibit keyword stuffing. Google’s algorithms evolved—and more job sites began to appear.
By the late ‘90s, a search for “physician jobs” brought up many independent job boards, including PhysEmp.com. As the market heated up, and job boards began to attract venture capital funding for new companies that included startups in Silicon Valley such as HospitalHub.com, DrKoop.com, and Auntminnie.com to name just a few.
Many went out of business around 2001 when the dot-com bubble burst.
Observing the competition
In the fall of 2001, PhysEmp’s Truog wanted to see what competing start-ups were doing. He attended a trade convention in San Diego. At the time, funding was pouring into the online healthcare marketplace.
“I was concerned about the competition,” Truog said. “And then I met them.”
He stepped into an impressive-looking trade show booth featuring stacks of glossy brochures announcing the company as the number 1 destination for physicians seeking jobs online. Truog leaned over and asked a staffer how that could be possible given that their website was not even live yet.
“The guy looked at the brochure I was holding, and said, ‘Yeah the marketing people got a little ahead of us there’.” This company, like many that were well funded but lacked a plan for revenue generation, eventually went out of business.
Other sites had similar stories of pumping resources into marketing but having little or no battle plan for revenue production. “They didn’t understand the field.” Truog said. “We’d been in business more than ten years by then. We understood it.”
PhysEmp soon began to implement new features that streamlined the process for both its clients and for physicians seeking jobs.
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