Demand and Supply…and More Demands

Know what you have -- and know how it compares to the market.

I find it interesting, now and then, to reflect on the peculiar skill sets people develop in the fullness of time. Not things they’d actively pursue, like reading through a CT with greater speed/accuracy or performing a daily exercise regimen more capably.

More like the inadvertent stuff. For instance, suddenly realizing that one’s become an expert at carrying far too many bags of groceries at once, in order to cut down on trips between car and kitchen. Whereas someone else, who hadn’t had occasion to practice, might not have the confidence to hook quite as many plastic-bag handles around fingertips…or might be over-confident, pick up too many things, and drop some of them. Even injure a pinky.

One such skill of mine: Sifting through, analyzing, and mentally cataloguing online profiles. It began a couple of decades ago, when online-dating was a new thing. A few years later, my search for a “forever house” (please, God, let me never have to re-locate again) was almost entirely web-based. Between then and now, buying/selling cars, shopping for mortgages and refinances, and, yes, hunting for radiology jobs joined the mix.

These seemingly-disparate pursuits have enough in common that they hone a relevant set of skills. One comes to more proficiently organize numerous options, mentally rank them against one another, and to varying degrees commit them to memory. Recognize the sometimes-hidden meanings of words and phrases—as well as the import of things not said (i.e., the “dog not barking”).

Venues of people, or occasionally their agents, posting profiles and/or browsing through them, are a pretty good example of the supply/demand dynamic at work. Everyone involved has their own ideas about the value of what they are bringing to the table—and, often, what others are presenting. Sometimes, those ideas are sufficiently in sync to result in negotiating, if not an actual completed transaction.

An occasionally amusing offshoot of that: Someone disagrees with someone else’s offer/request sufficiently strongly that they feel the need to inform the other of their wrongness. Or, someone has gotten enough negative feedback that they modify their profile to pre-emptively refute such criticism.

On a dating profile, for instance, a homely individual with nothing on the ball might specifically state that ugly people shouldn’t bother reaching out to him/her, nor anybody earning less than six figures. Someone selling an eyesore firetrap on Zillow might demand twice the price that anybody sane would pay and advise browsers not to waste his time with offers of anything less.

Those familiar with the venue will typically see such gall and have a negative reaction: “Who the heck does he think he is?”

A meme crossed my path this past week that perfectly summed up such attitudes. Showing a picture of a piece of wood, it read: “I have a 4 x 8 sheet of 5/8” thick plywood. Willing to trade for a 2018-2020 Corvette convertible with less than 10k miles and clean title. No low-ballers. I know what I have.”

As mentioned earlier, radiology job-listings are not an exception to the phenomenon of sometimes-drastic differences between expectations of one player and the next. It was the case when I was last job-hunting, and folks who are currently seeking tell me that it has, if anything, increased with the strong job market. Not to mention the increasing prevalence of staffing via teleradiology. There are recruitment-ads asking for similar hours of coverage whose comp-offerings literally differ from one another by more than 6 figures.

Also as mentioned earlier, some of the players feel the need to take a poke at others who point out that their offerings/demands might be out-of-line with the rest of the market. One tale recently related to me regarded a group which was recruiting for both onsite and telerad positions. The seeker had reached out to the group about the latter, and was unpleasantly surprised to be told that the telerad option’s terms were substantially less favorable than the job profile had described.

Still, he politely responded, saying that he had other options offering better terms (one sticking-point being that he didn’t want a 7-on, 7-off schedule), and would thus not be applying. Wished the hiring-rad best of luck. He got a salty response, implying that he was somehow in the wrong for wanting, and indeed having access, to better deals than that rad group was offering.

To my knowledge, that seeker hasn’t as yet pulled the trigger on any particular job-offer; he’s in a good situation where he doesn’t have to act in a hurry. Maybe those better deals won’t pan out for him…but after that unpleasant retort, he’s particularly disinclined to ever reach out to that rad group again.

In addition to maybe putting someone more diplomatic in charge of their recruitment, I’d suggest that rad groups take such interactions as wake-up calls. If folks are reaching out to ask about your recruitment and telling you that it’s not even worth their while to apply when they hear your terms, that’s free information you’re being given. Instead of bitterly dismissing it, might be time to re-examine what other groups are asking/offering in their job-listings…and make some changes to remain competitive.

Of course, that goes for the job seekers, too. If your radiological offerings are tantamount to a sheet of plywood, and you think you’re going to land a cherry Corvette of a gig with them...you probably have an expectation adjustment in your future.

Follow Editorial Board member Eric Postal, M.D., on Twitter, @EricPostal_MD.