Healthcare practitioners

23 Things I Wish I Knew as a Physician When Looking for a New Job

Searching for a new job is stressful, especially in the medical field. The job search process is constantly changing and evolving, making it hard to keep up. So, instead of taking on the challenge alone, it’s okay to ask for help. Here are 23 physician employment tips that most physicians wish they knew while searching for a job.

#1 – Start Early

It’s always a good idea to start the job search before you finish your program. Many medical residents start looking for jobs a year before their residency is over. It takes time to have the initial phone (or zoom) interview followed by a visit to the practice. Not to mention the time it takes for a decision to be made. Plus, you’ll need to repeat those steps for every job you interview for. It takes preparation to have a job lined up by the time your training is complete.

#2 – Decide Your Priorities First

As you begin your job search, it can be helpful to create a list of things you want and don’t want in a job. Consider aspects like money, work-life balance, location, call coverage for many specialties, and the type of medical practice you are looking for. Obviously, different specialties have different aspects to consider.

Ideally, you’ll want a job that excels in all of your priorities, but if you’re just getting started, it may not be possible to find a “perfect” job. So, decide which things are most important to you to help you narrow down your options.

#3 – Distinguish Needs vs. Wants

When deciding where your priorities lie, you’ll also want to make sure your needs come before your wants. For some employees, a specific salary may be essential to support themselves while others might be more concerned about the location and commute.

So, if you can’t check off everything on your priority list, it’s a good idea to put your “must-haves” above your desires. Then, once you gain more experience or find new opportunities, you may discover new priorities that you hadn’t considered.

#4 – Update Your CV

Don’t wait until you’re about to apply to get your paperwork in order. Make sure you have a completed curriculum vitae (CV) in advance. Take the time to update your CV before you dive into the job search. Look over your contact information and work experience to ensure that it’s current. It can’t hurt to have a cover letter template ready too.

#5 – Reconsider Your References

The contacts you used for references in the past may not be the best or most relevant choices anymore. The best references are individuals who have worked closely with you because they can give the most details about your skills and accomplishments. Make sure you have each reference’s permission, and confirm that their contact information is up to date.

#6 – Choose Which Practice is Best for You

There are a wide range of jobs in the medical field, so the job search can be overwhelming if you don’t have a specific role in mind. Decide which practice is most interesting for you. While many physicians seek out a large hospital facility or large multi-specialty groups, some prefer a smaller practice. Others might be looking for government jobs like those with the Armed Forces or VA.

#7 – Update Your Contact Methods

When you start your job search, you’ll need to make sure all the contact methods you give them are professional and reachable. If you have a silly-sounding email that you’ve used since high school, consider changing it to something more straightforward. Employers don’t need to know about your hobbies and quirks based on your email, so it’s best to change it to some variation of your name instead.

You should also make sure your voicemail is up-to-date. No matter how much you love having a humorous or sarcastic voicemail, you should change it while searching for a job. Be sure to state your full name and politely tell them you’ll call them back.

#8 – Location, Location, Location

If you’re planning to seek employment outside of your home state, then that’s something you’ll want to think about in advance. There are so many variables in this decision, especially if you have a partner or children. If you do, then does your partner have desires for your next move or are they letting you decide everything? It’s an important conversation to have ahead of time.

Plus, the process of getting medical licensure may take months depending on the state, so you should find out how long it will take to acquire. Otherwise, the recruiter may not think you are the best prospect.

#9 – Get Comfortable with Virtual Communication

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, work has become more remote. Even though you’ll mostly be working in person as a physician, you’ll need to get comfortable with virtual technology. Virtual interviews and meetings are becoming more common to keep people safe, so if technology isn’t your strong suit, you should start to familiarize yourself with methods of virtual communication.

If you have a virtual interview via video call, you should take it just as seriously as an in-person one. Dress professionally and make sure the space behind you isn’t cluttered. It might seem easier to interview in the comfort of your home, but you should still take just as much time to prepare. You may also want to look at buying inexpensive halo lighting for your video. It helps!

#10 – Research Each Position Thoroughly

Whenever you apply for a job, do your research about the practice. Find out what their values are, what their employee retention rate is, and what roles your position will entail. Make your knowledge of the practice and the position clear in your cover letter and in an interview.

Employers look for someone who fits in well with the team, so your knowledge of the practice may help them see that you’re the right fit. You can also use your Linkedin account to see if you know anyone already employed there.

#11 – Continuously Search for Jobs

There is a healthcare shortage throughout the US, but that doesn’t mean a job will be handed to you. The medical field can be competitive, so it may take a while to find the right job. If no one gives you an offer, the best thing you can do is keep applying to places. Search and apply for jobs every day if you can. It might sound tedious, but it’s a great way to increase your chances of employment.

#12 – Accept Other Opportunities in the Meantime

If you’re struggling to find the right physician job, don’t give up. While you’re searching for employment, you can take on other opportunities to increase your chances. Locum Tenens jobs offer well-paid opportunities while you decide where you want to start.

#13 – Connect with Others in the Field

Networking is a key term for any industry. The more people you know in your desired field, the easier it will be to get a job. Connect with peers in your medical program, attend networking events, and go to conferences to meet as many people as you can.

Use as many resources as possible to discuss your job search with people who can relate to your experiences. According to, 70% to 80% of jobs aren’t posted online, but instead, the positions are filled through networking. Thus, this is one of the most crucial physician employment tips.

#14 – Know Your Worth

You can’t be too picky if you need a job, but you should still know your worth. Don’t let a company offer you significantly less than you deserve. So, before you begin the interview process, make sure you’re aware of how much people in your field normally make.  There are multiple sources for data on current salary for a large number of medical specialties such as the Labor Departments.

#15 – Be Honest and Enthusiastic

It’s always good to be yourself in an interview, as long as you show them how professional you can be. Answer questions honestly and confidently. During an interview, always seem enthusiastic about the job, even if it’s not your first choice. Even if you’re confident about your interviewing skills, it’s always a good idea to brush up on common interview questions beforehand.

#16 – Take Every Interview Seriously

Go into every interview feeling prepared, even if it’s only a phone or virtual interview. Most interviewers will start to form an opinion about you in only a few seconds of meeting you. So, regardless of the position you’re applying for, you still need to give it your all and sell your skills. Show them that you’re knowledgeable about the company and eager to be part of the team.

#17 – Keep an Open Mind

During your interview, keep an open mind about the opportunity being described. Early on, you may hear some aspect of the practice that doesn’t appeal to you. Yet, don’t display your lack of interest because in their next sentence, you may hear something that’s far more important to you, which could change your mind. You should always give positive feedback to the recruiter too.

#18 – When in Doubt, Ask Questions

The best way to show you are interested in any opportunity is to ask questions. The basic Who, What, When, and Where questions work, but being more prepared to ask specific questions will help you get a job and learn more about it.

A job interview goes both ways. The interviewer will want to make sure you’re a good fit for the company, but you’ll also want to ensure that the company is a good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the position, the company, and their expectations.

Just because you’re asking questions doesn’t mean you don’t know your stuff. Questions prove to the interviewer that you care about the details of the position, and it shows them that you’re invested in the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions about things like the company’s work/life balance and what a typical day in your position would look like.

#19 – Be Persistent

Physician recruiters at hospitals aren’t working only in a typical office setting. Since they have responsibilities that take them away from their office, they may not reply to emails and phone calls right away. Don’t hesitate to follow up if you haven’t heard from them in a while. Being persistent not only helps you find out information sooner, but it also shows the employer how serious you are about the position.

#20 – Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

It might seem easiest to take any offer you’re given, but negotiating is an important part of reaching your career goals. In many cases, you won’t get what you’re looking for if you don’t ask. So, before agreeing to a job offer, research the cost of living and other expenses in that area to help you decide your desired salary. As long as your requests are reasonable, the employer should at least consider them.

#21 – Have Someone Look Over the Contract

Before signing a contract for a new job, it can be helpful to have a second pair of eyes. Someone you trust may be able to spot areas of concern that you didn’t notice on your own. If you’re able, your best option would be to hire a lawyer to examine the contract before you sign it.

#22 – Trust Your Gut

Sometimes, you may have a gut feeling about a job. If something doesn’t seem right or if you have a good feeling about the people working there, trust those instincts. You know what you need better than anyone else, so when it comes to employment decisions, don’t forget to listen to your gut.

#23 – Use PhysEmp to Make Job Searching Easier

Many people turn to a staffing agency or another type of outside help to get job search assistance and physician employment tips. Physician job boards like PhysEmp go above and beyond other companies to ensure that thousands of physicians find the employment they’re seeking. Our site not only lists sites but displays them quickly on a map for a better understanding of what is available and where. We’re a group of real people who are excited to see physicians succeed in their job searches.

For over 25 years, PhysEmp has worked hard to develop a network of healthcare professionals and recruitment agencies and hospitals to make finding a new job stress-free. It’s the perfect way to see specialized jobs, save interesting positions, directly contact employers, and apply to jobs all while getting the support you need.

If you’re having a hard time finding a job as a physician, PhysEmp is happy to help! Contact us today to get one step closer to achieving your career goals.