Physician recruiters are effectively engaged in a “courtship” with candidates, and just like any successful relationship, courting physicians is about communication and understanding.
When physicians are exploring a new opportunity, especially one that requires a move, there’s a lot more than their approval riding on their decision: the candidate’s partner or spouse, and/or children play a major role. In fact, unwillingness of the spouse or family to relocate is the top reason many physicians reject offers. Many physician recruiters would argue that it’s often the partner or spouse who really makes the final decision.
That means you’re recruiting a candidate’s spouse and family, too, and you should court them as passionately as you court the candidate. So, what are the deal breakers? Part of your screening process must be to ask upfront if anyone else is influencing a candidate’s decision. Then you set your sights on winning them over.
Here are some questions to use to open the dialogue about partners or spouses:
- What kind of house or living experience are they looking for? Take some time to lay the groundwork for where they’d like to live. The candidate may not want the nicest home in the most popular neighborhood. They may want to live out in the country, and they may want to be in the heart of a town. What activities are they looking for, and what neighborhood fits their plans? You may want to engage a realtor in the community for a tour.
- What does the partner or spouse do for a living? Asking about an occupation is a great ice breaker. It gives you a perfect opportunity to discuss a community’s market for their profession, and could provide a way to get them networking. Keep everyone engaged by aligning interviews for the physician as well as the spouse.
- If they have kids, what kinds of schools are they looking for? A lot of physician candidates have school-aged children, so learning about their ages, grades, and special needs is important. A tour of a school or two could be part of a site visit. Make the kids feel important, which is half of the battle.
- What activities are the couple or their kids engaged in? A community with a strong soccer or tennis program may fit the bill. Likewise, an accredited art or music school or even community fairs could be the key to winning a family over.
- What kind of community do they most want to live in? Location is vital in real estate, and it’s just as important in physician recruitment. A great community isn’t always about beaches and scenic waterways, though. How will moving to your city or town fundamentally change a family’s lifestyle? Whatever you can do to help the family of your candidate feel more comfortable in their new community will make it easier for your physician candidates to accept your job. In truth, selling the community creates a sense of belonging that can seal the deal.
- Do they have extended family nearby? Family and friends who live in the area often factor into where a physician chooses to move. It could be in-laws, cousins, uncles, or even friends of the family. If they live in the community or nearby, include them in a tour. If family or friends aren’t close, calculate how far a visit is and make sure that’s acceptable to everyone upfront.
One important reminder: many physician candidates have as many as three interviews before they ever delve into the topic of moving with their significant other (per a study from Cejka Search) – and most recruiters don’t invite partners or spouses to accompany candidates on initial site visits. Failure to engage the spouse or family can be a mistake, because until you’ve convinced them to take an opportunity, you haven’t convinced anyone.
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