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Are Recruiters Necessary in the Rad Job Market?


Does it pay to use outside recruiters or should rad groups handle this function internally to attract the best hires?

I got a good chuckle out of today’s haul of recruiter spam mails. One advertised position read “Notoriety! Work for the premier name in radiology …”

I know it can be considered intellectual snobbery to snark at someone’s imperfect vocabulary, grammar, spelling … but I could practically hear Inigo Montoya saying “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” Notoriety might be a fine trait for an employer if you’re going into a life of crime, show business, or even politics, but this is not exactly what I seek in my career.

A recruiter’s suboptimally written blurb shouldn’t be held against the rad group or even the recruiting firm as a whole. The individual handling that account is the one who might have double-checked his or her dictionary before hitting send. Still, guilt by association is a thing, however unfair it may be. I know I would be disappointed to see my professional organization showcased in this manner.

It’s a particularly opportune time for this incident to resonate with me. I have been following a radiology forum thread about the phenomenon of recruiters failing to return calls, emails, etc. “Ghosting,” in a word, is something I have written about in this column.

Unimpressed as I might be to pay a recruiter and see his or her weak writeup for my rad group, I think I’d be downright angry if I heard that rads interested to join my ranks weren’t even getting the courtesy of a response from said recruiter.

This leads me to wonder and it’s not the first time I have pondered this question: What the heck do we need recruiters for, anyway? What do they do that we cannot?

To recruiters or their proponents who are offended by this, I am sorry if this sounds harsh. Perhaps others performing below your level have done your field a disservice.

As I understand it, though, a recruiter …

a) Posts job listings in as many locations as possible for rads to see, plus or minus emails and cold calls;

b) Serves as a first “point of contact” for responses, answering basic questions and screening out the most inappropriate inquiries before relaying the rest of the candidates to talk with actual members of the rad group;

c) Plays follow-up if a given candidate needs a nudge or the group hasn’t chosen anyone and needs a reminder that viable applicants are waiting; and

d) Collects a healthy chunk of change that could have been part of the recruit’s compensation, or remained in the rad group’s coffers.

So I ask the question again: Do any of these things need to be done by someone outside of the rad group? Keeping in mind that all extra steps you add to a process can slow things down or otherwise delay bringing a person on board, any extra link you add to a chain of events can be the weakest one, most prone to breaking. This may especially be the case if that link is also serving in other chains at the same time (or did you think you were the only client of that external recruiter?).

Suppose I’m a member in good standing of your team. You’re happy with me and want me to stay there. I’m happy with how you’ve treated me and want to stick around. Maybe I want to show my worth above and beyond generating RVUs and/or occupying a pair of “boots on the ground” in one of the facilities you own/cover. However, thus far, I haven’t achieved a leadership or executive type of role in the group.

Solution: You make me the recruitment guy or part of the recruitment squad since it doesn’t have to be a solo operation. I now have a new role of which I can take ownership and be proud. I can even list it on my CV if that matters to me. The group immediately starts saving what it would have paid a recruiter. Whenever new blood is needed, I can lead the charge, being 100 percent aware of our situation and needs whereas a recruiter would need to be brought up to speed.

In my particular case, I believe I’d be able to handle the whole job, since I’m fortunate enough to have amassed the relevant skills/talents. Off the top of my head, however, I can imagine three different people bringing key elements to the table when it comes to recruiting.

  • Someone who is savvy with social media and the like. Your group’s job-listings need to be where rads will be looking, even in places a rad might come across without actively job hunting. You don’t just want someone who will plunk down want ads and move on. It should be someone who makes a point of keeping up with all responses, adjusting the listing as appropriate, and “bumping” social media posts when they’ve gotten long in the tooth.
  • Someone who is decent with the written word unless you would like your group’s ads to say things like “notorious” and inspire other blogs like this one. Want ads and other things you post (or emailed responses to inquiries) need to point out the stuff that shows your group in the best possible light while including “pertinent negatives” to weed out respondents who want things you are not offering. Someone who knows how to use the right turns of phrase can convey the info with the right spin in a concise manner, and get the maximum yield for each set of eyes glancing over the posted position.
  • Someone who is charismatic, good on the phone and/or in person to communicate with applicants. This doesn’t necessarily have to be your formal interviewer but someone, at least for early rounds of contact, who has a good sense of a promising new recruit, can pique his or her interest in your opportunity, and perhaps motivate the recruit to take additional steps in your direction.

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