Just like the marriage and courtship dance we do as individuals, courting physician candidates is about attracting attention, communication, and understanding. Courtship is the first step in any successful relationship, and as a physician recruiter you’re effectively engaged in a courtship. If you’re recruiting candidates who are married or in a committed relationship, their decision will be based 98 percent on input from their partner—which means you’re courting their spouse or family, too.
Who’s wooing whom?
We can all agree that the biggest challenge in physician recruitment is family and spouse concerns. Unwillingness of the spouse or family to relocate is the top reason physicians reject offers. Other objections range from a partner’s career, to schools, to special interests or needs by a family member, to cultural differences. So clearly, your success is based on your ability to woo the spouse or partner, too.
Strangely,though, there’s an interesting phenomena in this industry. Physician candidates customarily engage in as many as three interviews before they ever delve into the topic of relocation with their significant other. This means a lot of candidates waste hours of your time and thousands of dollars, only to let you down later—and all because they didn’t have a conversation with their spouse or partner first. Even more surprising, a meager two percent of recruiting organizations say they invite the spouse to accompany the candidate on the first visit. A shocking number wait until the third visit to engage the spouse or family!
You could shrug your shoulders about the candidates who employ the scapegoat "spouse blame game" (and we could probably offer some observation on the state of marriage), but if you get to the point where a physician candidate can reasonably say, “My spouse won’t let me take the job," it might be too late.
You must engage the spouse and family early on. You must get the conversation with the candidate’s family started. But how do you begin? Inviting the partner or spouse for the first visit is obvious. We suggest you try some of these tips, too.
1. Everyone in the family wants a combination of location and lifestyle and this is where you can shine. While the physician isengaged in lengthy interviews, outline an agenda and send the spouse or family out to experience and learn about some of the great things your community offers.
2. Does the physician have family or friends in the area? Better yet, does their spouse or partner have family or friends in the area? We all know the primary reason for choosing where to work and live is who works and lives there.
3. What does the spouse or partner do for a living? Do some research about the industry in your area and point them toward possible opportunities. You might also suggest local networking or professional groups.
4. If your candidate has children, learn their ages and do your own homework about the local school system. Suggest family-friendly events or points of interest in the area, too.
5. If the candidate accepts your opportunity, they’ll have to have somewhere to live. So set up a real estate tour, send some realtor names and contact details, or provide some online housing information.
6. Help them meet other people in the area. Is there a group or regular event where physician families can engage with other physician families? Find out and send them a schedule.
Courtship is the mechanism we use to remove physical and emotional barriers between people, and wooing a physician’s family is no different. Failure to engage them could be deadly—because until you’ve convinced the spouse or family to take an opportunity, you haven’t convinced anyone.
Do you have any ideas about wooing physician spouses or families during the recruiting courtship? Share them with us.