How to hire a great millennial physician

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What does a millennial physician look like? And, importantly for physicians’ groups, hospitals, and health systems, how do you effectively recruit them to come work for you when they are in such high demand?

Much has been written about this generation of overeducated and underemployed young people — all full of entitlement and purpose — who have been transforming values and expectations in the workforce over the past few years. J.T. O’Donnell, writing for Inc.com, recently put her finger on how these young people look for jobs. They are called “The Sophisticated Job Seeker,” and O’Donnell argues they are heavily disrupting the recruiting industry.

Seventy million baby boomers are about to retire, and they will be replaced by fewer than 50 million Gen-Xers, according to O’Donnell’s story. “The result? A desperate fight for a limited resource — experienced workers at a competitive price.”

That means companies are heavily focused on recruiting and training up millennials. The realities of the talent shortage combined with the purpose-driven sensibility of the young people now entering the workforce are only magnified when it comes to recruiting young physicians. They are perhaps the most sophisticated, in-demand job-seeker around.

To attract the best doctors, physicians’ groups, hospitals, and health systems need to rethink their recruiting efforts, in some cases nearly from the ground up. The changes needed could be very uncomfortable, especially for companies entrenched in traditional ways. They involve much greater transparency than ever before combined with a stark reality: you have to stand for something good, and you have to mean it, and you have to show it.

A manifesto for recruiting millennial physicians

1. Consider radical transparency — about everything. This is really the starting point for everything else. Besides, transparency is fast becoming less a suggestion and more a reality thrust on you whether you like it or not. Websites like Glassdoor have thrived by encouraging current and former employees to post information about their salaries, bosses, and job satisfaction online. Facebook now includes a rating system for companies with a Page, and just about every other tool or medium of the web includes a review system. Not only is it increasingly difficult to hide things in today’s online world, even the perception that you may be hiding something is enough to torpedo a relationship with a potential employee. Don’t do it.

2. Put meaningful information about ownership opportunities in writing. Most companies save discussions about ownership opportunities for the interview stage — or later. There is some good reason for that: truly meaningful partnership is almost like a marriage. You share in the successes and defeats of the company, put your own wealth at risk, and tie your future together in a way that can be painful to get out of. But the fact is that Millennials are interested in ownership over their own future. They are starting businesses and working independently at unprecedented rates. It only makes sense that they need a more meaningful discussion about ownership earlier in the process: preferably in writing, up front.

3. Make it clear you’re not just looking for a cog in the health care machine. Scroll through your average list of physician job posts, and you’ll see they all pretty much look alike: a job title, a location, and a bonus amount or salary number. Companies that hire physicians recruit all the time to keep their pipeline full, so they have constant job ads running whether there are actually open positions or not. Top that with the fact that some physicians’ groups just need to fill slots, plain and simple, and you can see why it might come off to the job searcher like they are being recruited to be a cog in the machinery of health care. No one wants to be a cog in a machine, but for millennials catching even a whiff of that possibility is anathema.

4. It can’t be said enough: you must be authentic.  This means letting your true culture, brand, and people shine through in every possible medium: in the decorations of your office, in your website, and in all your advertising and printed material. If you are using stock photography, now is the time to stop, once and for all. Get a good, professional, candid photographer on contract and periodically send him or her to photograph your people, your events, your orientations, even your meetings. Tell the stories of your people, and don’t shy away from the personal or the negative. All companies have things to work on: be honest about yourself, because today’s job seekers care more about that than whether everything is perfect.

5. Revisit your referral program, and understand why it’s not working. Gone are the days when throwing some cash into a referral program was enough to help maintain a healthy pipeline of job candidates. Just as money isn’t the primary factor in most millennial job searches, the money earned from job referrals isn’t enough for most people put their reputation at stake by making the referral in the first place. Millennials are practiced at making recommendations: They do it in what they post to their social media accounts, and they do it in online review systems like Yelp and TripAdvisor. They know that when they make a recommendation their personal brand is at stake. The fact is, referral programs in competitive industries like healthcare won’t work if you don’t have a company worth shouting from the hilltops about. Build a truly exceptional company, worthy of the recommendation of everyone who works for it, and candidates will come.

Chesney Fowler is an emergency physician who blogs at the Shift.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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