Finding the position that’s right for you can be complicated. Here, experts break down what you need to find that perfect radiology position.
With a myriad of radiology practice environments available, an increased focus on sub-specialization, and an upcoming wave of retirements, navigating your way to the right position can be complicated.
According to industry experts, however, focusing on certain aspects of the job hunt can help you land the role you want.
“Like beauty, a good job is in the eye of the beholder,” says Richard Duszak, Jr., MD, vice chair for health policy and practice at Emory University. “Most radiologists now change jobs at least once during their careers. It’s expensive and disruptive, but sometimes it’s necessary for a variety of reasons. So, avoiding a move, if possible, is always ideal.”
To find the right position-and side-step ping-ponging between groups-keep these aspects of job searching in mind.
Similar to real estate purchases, location can be critical. Be sure you’re looking for a job in an area where you want to live. If you like the city, don’t apply for positions in a small, rural town, says Ivan DeQuesada, MD, a neuroradiologist and medical director for Radiology Associates of North Texas. Carefully weigh your desires and the needs of your spouse and children, if applicable, when searching for open positions.
“The number one thing on your mind should be location because that’s the one thing that won’t change, and it really cannot be adapted for in most practices,” he says. “If you keep that in mind, it will help narrow your search and help ensure you won’t be unhappy in a job within three to five years.”
Before you apply, decide whether you prefer to focus on general radiology or a sub-specialty. Limiting your scope can shrink your job prospects, but it’s important to be honest.
“Only you can decide how much variety you want in your day-to-day work. Make sure you tell the group what you really believe,” says Duszak, also a senior research fellow at the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute. “If you tell them you’ll do anything, but push back anytime there’s a case outside your area of expertise or interest, the professional road ahead will be rocky.”
Still, it’s important to demonstrate your willingness learn new skill sets, says Sonia Gupta, MD, chair of the Young Professionals Section at the American College of Radiology (ACR). Let interviewers know you’re open to learning.
Consider whether you want additional teaching or research responsibilities on top of clinical activities or if you’d like to only focus on patient care before applying for an academic position, Duszak says.
“Some folks change their priorities over their careers in terms of wanting to be in an academic or private practice,” he says. “But, figuring out what’s the right fit upfront will help put you on a more solid and stable career trajectory.”
Practice size should also be a consideration, DeQuesada says. A larger practice might offer a slightly lighter workload, but a smaller practice could present additional leadership opportunities. Research the practices you’re applying to and ask questions during the interview process about what the possible career path might look like.
Get to know people in the geographic area where you’d like to live and within the practice you’re pursuing, Gupta says. Not only does having that personal connection create relationships with a potential employer, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about other possible job openings.
As part of its Career Center, the ACR offers a job search board and opens the door for young professionals to pursue mentor-mentee relationships with more established providers in both private and academic practice. Additionally, in October, as part of the Radiology Leadership Institute, the ACR will host a one-day “Kickstart Your Career” program designed to give residents and fellows skills and tips to more easily traverse the job search process and identify the most desirable position.
Take time to learn about the practice. Determine their focus, investigate the clinical concentrations of providers there, and then prepare pertinent questions, such as their patient mix and long-term practice goals.
“One of the things that’s most infuriating to me is people that come to interview for a position, and they know absolutely nothing about the practice,” says Fred Lee, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “I feel like I have to spend time telling them who we are and what we do rather than finding out more about the person themselves.”
Also, Duszak says, when you can, find radiologists who have worked there previously. They can frequently offer insight into the working environment.
Tailor every cover letter for each position you pursue, Lee says.
“A generic cover letter and CV doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd at all, especially in a competitive situation,” he says. “You need to explain why you are the exact person they want to hire.”
Highlight any specific details or accomplishments because the hiring team doesn’t have time to read through your application with a fine-tooth comb. Make it easy for them to see what you bring to the table and why you would be a good fit, he says.
If you secure a face-to-face interview, come prepared with a verbal synopsis of what makes you a good candidate. Some interviewers spend more time talking about the practice than asking questions. Do not leave the formal interview without actively selling yourself, Lee says.
When the interview ends, that doesn’t mean the job selection process is over, Lee says, so thank you notes can be a great touch.
“I really do like a hand-written thank you note. It shows a little bit more care and a little more of a personal touch,” he says. “If you’re in a position where you’re trying to distinguish yourself from other candidates, it might be nice. But, whether you send the note via snail mail or electronic mail, it’s something you should definitely do.”
Mention specifics from your interview and point out any personal connections made during the interview, he says.
Ultimately, Lee says, investing more time in learning about your potential employer and preparing to put your best foot forward can help put you out front of a pack of equally-qualified new radiologists.