Whether you are a physician saddled with the task of spearheading the recruitment efforts of your practice, a group practice administrator, an in-house physician recruiter, or an agency recruiter like myself, you have probably heard the following at least once (if not several times, as in my case) in your career from a prospective physician candidate you are seeking to recruit:
“You know, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all your hard work and the group’s hospitality … you really rolled out the red carpet for me … but … you know, my wife just won’t me let take the job.”
First off, within the physician recruitment industry, we call this the “spouse blame,” and it never is fun to hear (and it goes both ways, with both sexes, for sure). Often, my instinct is to respond with, “Well, have a nice life, doctor!” followed by a loud slam of the phone receiver – SLAM! – but over the years I have learned that practicing diplomacy in such a situation tends to be the best idea.
Often, this blame placed upon the spouse is not actually the truth and the spouse is used as a scapegoat for why the candidate really doesn’t want the job. As much as rejection hurts for whatever reason, the only good that can really come out of it is that you should be able to conduct a post-mortem on the failed recruitment in order to determine what went wrong, so as to properly refocus your recruitment efforts.
However, I am here to tell you that if you even get to the point where a candidate can reasonably say such a thing as “my wife won’t let me,” then you have failed in your job as a recruiter.
Quite simply, you should recruit the spouse as hard, if not harder, then your physician candidate. In fact, you the recruiter and the significant other should be actively conspiring on how to get the candidate – their spouse – to take the job. That’s how a real recruiter does it.
You see, there’s this interesting phenomena present within the physician recruitment industry whereby physician candidates will interview once, twice and in some cases even three times before they even seriously delve into the topic of relocation with their significant other. I don’t have a reason for why this occurs, and I am sure there’s some commentary on the status of marriage in our country to be made here, but the simple fact is that there are a number of candidates who will literally waste hours of your time, thousands and thousands of your dollars (interviews are not cheap) and get your hopes entirely way too high just to let you down, simply because they did not want to have a serious conversation with their spouse.
So its your job as a recruiter, to have it for them.
In the case of every betrothed (or affianced or soon to be) physician candidate you plan to interview, before even the first interview, either you, your spouse, your administrator or your recruiter need to speak with the candidate’s significant other and secure that they a) have even heard about your job, b) that they are seriously open to a relocation to your town, and c) that their particular career could reasonably continue within your town.
Do not interview until all three items have been addressed. I don’t care how nice the candidate’s CV is, and I don’t care how much assurance the candidate gives you that that their spouse will be “on board” with their decision. Someone needs to speak to the spouse first and ascertain their status with respect to those three matters presented. You will find that in most cases they will be exceptionally candid with you, and in the event they are in fact “on board” this presents a great opportunity to start building rapport with the spouse so you can get to that place of collusion where the two of you are working together to close the deal with the physician in question.
Do you not feel comfortable having such a conversation, or does no one come to mind within your organization as particularly appropriate for such a thing? Then perhaps consider outsourcing the task, as an experienced and successful agency recruiter is no stranger to such a thing.
However you choose to do it, if you are going to be truly proactive within your recruitment endeavors, you absolutely must not neglect to cater to the spouse, because to do so means to commit the most rookie of all recruiter mistakes and, ultimately, to waste practice time and money.
Bo Claypool is a physician recruiter who is the managing partner of Monroe & Weisbrod, a psychiatry-specific physician recruitment firm.