It’s a tough job market for radiologists with many groups holding back on new hires. Here are six tips for improve your employment chances.
It’s no mystery that today’s radiology job market is tight. Many recent graduates chose radiology before the economic collapse when jobs were plentiful, and now they’re struggling to get their foot in the door either in a hospital or a private practice. And, they’re not alone. Older job seekers are also struggling as practices are forced to downsize in an effort to cope with dwindling reimbursement. A recent informal Diagnostic Imaging poll found that only a quarter of groups are hiring, and 53 percent are still thinning the ranks.
At this point, it’s unclear how – or if – Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act will impact the industry and its job pool, but there are a few tactics job seekers can use now to improve their chances of securing employment.
1. Create a detailed narrative for yourself. It isn’t enough to simply reply to a job posting with your CV and contact information, said Patrick Moore, president of Smart Physician Recruiting. Employers receive at least 20 to 30 applications per job, so you must tell your story to stand out from the crowd.
“Cover letters are a must when applying for a new position,” Moore said. “Tell your story about who you are, what your training was like, and why you are unique. Otherwise, you’re not likely to receive a phone call.”
2. Be willing to work outside your subspecialty. Many practices hire radiologists because of their training in a particular area. But in a growing number of cases, radiologists are being called upon to work outside their wheelhouse, said Geraldine McGinty, MD, chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Commission on Economics and the ACR Board of Chancellors.
“Indeed, there are some practices looking for someone to work entirely within their subspecialty,” McGinty said. “But, there are many who need someone flexible – someone who will do something other than what they learned during fellowship. Job seekers must have a willingness to pitch in.”
3. Pick your desired location wisely: If you’re applying for a job in a different geographic location, have and share the specific reasons why you chose it. It isn’t uncommon in this tight job market to see graduates from New England schools applying for jobs in the Southwest without any clear ties to that region, Moore said, and it’s easy for employers to spot someone who is applying wildly in the hopes of finding a job.
“If you do want to choose a different geographic region, seek out practices in that area while you’re in residency or during fellowship,” Moore said. “Make phone calls. Connect with them at conferences. Explain your reasons for wanting to come to their region because they’re looking to find people who will be long-term hires.”
4. Embrace “no-pay” work. Radiologists deliver significant value to the hospital, McGinty said. Diagnostic studies often determine whether a patient is admitted, has a reduced length of stay, or goes home. But hospital administrators don’t always recognize that contribution, so it’s up to radiologists to communicate the benefits their services provide. Express your desire to serve on committees or participate in the creation of safety initiatives. Your willingness to integrate into the business of the hospital will be attractive, she said.
“The importance and role of ‘no-pay’ work is potentially something that new graduates might not understand,” McGinty said. “But it plays a very valuable role in radiology, and demonstrating to an employer that you are willing to invest time in these efforts can make a difference in whether you’re hired and your level of success.”
5. Older candidates, sell your experience. Competing against younger candidates can be difficult. Not only can they often work longer hours, but they are also willing to do the job for less money. Highlighting your strengths is imperative, Moore said.
“If you’re over 55, sell the fact that you’ve already been down the road of getting to know a new practice, and you know what to expect,” he said. “Play up your expertise and the number of studies you can read in a day. These are things that younger applicants will not be able to do.”
6. Use your contacts. Don’t be afraid to call on the people you know in the industry. As with many professions, most new graduates are finding jobs through networking, Vanessa Van Duyn Wear, MD, to Diagnostic Imaging in previous article.
“Use your tools,” said Wear, who is past chair of the ACR Resident and Fellow Section. “Call on former colleagues, ask previous faculty, and at the end of the day, be persistent. These groups are getting calls all day from people like you.”
For a list of current job postings through the ACR: http://www.acr.org/Career-Center