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Finding Physician Jobs: How to Sell Yourself Correctly

“I’m not sure what makes me stand out. I guess you’d need to ask my colleagues.”

“I just finished my residency, so I haven’t really accomplished anything yet.”

“I haven’t won any awards.”

These are examples of some fairly common responses we receive from physicians when asking them about their achievements in the workplace. This isn’t because the physicians haven’t actually done anything worthy of mention, it’s because they are unable to properly assess and express their strengths and skills, which affects their ability to successfully find a new job as a practicing physician.

The ability to sell yourself is perhaps the most important skill any physician can master in terms of your career (medical skills notwithstanding, of course). “Selling yourself” doesn’t refer to a hard sell; it simply means communicating your abilities to others. You can be the most hardworking, passionate, and talented physician in the world, but if you aren’t able to make your strengths visible to those who don’t already know you well, you will miss out on many great physician jobs.

Think about it—you probably know of several doctors who consistently get the fantastic job, the academic appointment, the most important cases, etc., yet aren’t necessarily the most competent or skilled physician. The people who are left behind on the career ladder are not always the ones who perform poorly. Often, they are the equally talented physicians who unfortunately allowed themselves to be overshadowed by others who were more outspoken.

So how do you go about selling yourself?

The first step is to develop an awareness of what makes you a great physician. An achievement doesn’t have to be in the form of a list of publications or a national award. An achievement is anything you’ve done well in your career.

Coming up with a list of achievements is essential to putting your best foot forward. And all it requires is a bit of brainstorming. The steps below will help you to begin the brainstorming process.

1) What do others (physicians, patients, friends, colleagues) compliment you on?

Try to remember and record any compliments you’ve received. Do patients consistently thank you for your clear communication or your follow-up? Do your colleagues appreciate your willingness to take on extra shifts when needed? Paying attention to positive feedback will help you to figure out where your strengths lie.

2) What do you do that’s “above and beyond?”

Have you served in mentorship roles? Have you taken advantage of opportunities to participate in physician conferences or research projects? Do you participate in committees or serve in leadership roles within your practice? Anything you’ve done outside the boundaries of your physician job description is worth mentioning.

3) Take stock of your experience.

Have you worked with one specific type of patient, or have you worked with a whole gamut of patients, from newborns to the elderly? Have you gained additional expertise within your specialty? Perhaps you’ve practiced in diverse environments and have the ability to quickly adapt to new situations. Looking back over your career and the jobs you have had as a physician to date (regardless of length), evaluate how your experience as a whole has prepared you for your next physician job.

4) What makes you unique?

Now we’re speaking in a professional context here: employers won’t want to know that you can tie a cherry stem with your tongue or recite the entire alphabet backwards in 10 seconds. But everyone brings their own unique strengths to a position. Maybe you have a great sense of humor and have a different joke at the tip of your tongue at all times to put patients at ease. Maybe you’re a great educator. Maybe you’ve made it a point to become an expert in a specific disease or technology and spent lots of time outside of work reading up on it. Whatever it is that sets you apart, let it be known.

5) What will you bring to your next employer?

You know the quote “ Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Well, replace the word “country” with “employer” and you will have the right mantra for your search for the perfect physician job.

The best way to get the attention of employers is to tell them what you have to offer. Saying that you’re looking for great pay, reasonable hours, and bonus incentives won’t win you any favor. It doesn’t mean you don’t deserve or won’t receive those things. But when approaching a potential employer, you want to show that person how you will make his/her practice better.

Perhaps you have a knack for streamlining procedures that has made your previous offices run more smoothly. Maybe you’re a fantastic networker or rainmaker who brings in a lot of referrals through your community involvement. Or you may have experience in billing procedures. If you can convince an employer that his/her practice will be better off with you as a part of it, you are guaranteed a position.

You’ve done the brainstorming…now what?

Spending time thinking about what you’ve achieved is invaluable: not only will it help you to catch the attention of physician employers, but it will make you more prepared in interview or networking situations.

For the purpose of a large-scale job search, this information will be useful in creating a stellar resume and cover letter. These two documents are extremely important, as they make the “first impression” on potential employers. Most physicians who find good jobs do so as a result of a good first impression. Even though most physicians aren’t expected to be stellar writers, that doesn’t mean that employers won’t be put off by poorly written materials. Conversely, a well-written letter and resume can open doors for you that might have been closed otherwise.

If you can make the effort to properly and successfully sell yourself to an employer, the next step is finding the employers to whom you want to sell yourself! Once you can do that, using a service like The Doctor Job, your search for the perfect physician job will be quick and painless and over before you even realize it’s started. Get free physician career advice online at or by phone at 1-800-591-4842.

About the Author: The Doctor Job is comprised of former recruiters and career counselors with many years of experience working with professionals and physicians to help them find excellent jobs. If you are a resident, fellow, physician, or medical student looking for advice, you can get free career advice online at, or by calling 1-800-591-4842.

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