Last year was my first dance with the recruitment process since applying for a shelf stacking job as a first-year med student. Applying for PGY3 jobs was a challenging, anxiety-riddled time, but also a unique opportunity for reflection, and personal development.

This series of blog articles will describe my personal journey through the New South Wales Health recruitment system. I hope that, from these reflections, you will be able to glean a few tips and tricks to assist in your own career pursuits. The series will be divided into three parts:

  • Part 1 – Selection Criteria – What are they? How should I answer them? How do I say it all in under 1000 characters?
  • Part 2 – CV – What should I include? What should it look like? What if I don’t have three PhDs?
  • Part 3 – The Interview – How should I approach them? What is behavioural interviewing? What if I get nervous?
  • Part 4 – A bit of perspective.

I must preface these posts by declaring that I am by no means a recruitment expert. I’m simply a junior doc that has recently experienced this new and confronting world, with a few words of advice that I think can help my peers. For more authoritative advice, I suggest you consult the folks over the AMA careers service.

At the end of the day, you are more than your job. You are a wonderful, unique human being with a lot to offer the world.

Before we launch into any specifics, I’d like to offer up my top tips for any doctor in the recruitment phase of their career:

  1. Start a diary! Now! Right now!

Do it now! Stop what you’re doing and get yourself a journal. Start writing in it tonight. Anything.

On the advice of a former Director of Prevocational Medical Education and Training, I started a reflective journal on my first day of internship. It’s one of the best things I have done.

I use this journal to reflect on the complex decisions I make when caring for patients. What did I do well? What will I do differently next time? What were the factors that influenced me to make the decision I made, at that point in time? Which heuristics and cognitive biases were at play? (Learn about these in Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow or watch All Doctors are Jackasses)

  1. Get a LinkedIn account

There is a reason that the folks over at Microsoft paid a neat $26.2 billion for this social network. For those of you not already on board, it’s a social networking platform designed for professionals, like yourself.

Your profile acts as a rolling CV, and provides prime exposure to peers, and potential employers. It’s most useful feature, for me, has been the ability to keep all of my CV-worthy achievements in one place, where I can update them in real-time. No more clawing back through old course certificates or journal submissions to work out dates. Keeping it up to date prevents the omission of important achievements that you will want your prospective employer to know about.

Another handy feature is the ability for your peers to vouch for the skills you list, and for supervisors to write recommendations. For example, you could, I don’t know, endorse me for blogging?

Shameless self-promotion aside. Sign up now at https://www.linkedin.com/

  1. Find a recruitment course

The Newcastle Simulation Centre runs a one day recruitment course. It provides sessions on interview technique, how to structure your CV and how to answer selection criteria, delivered by people that do actual recruiting!

  1. You are more than the sum of your CV, selection criteria and interview.

This is a stressful time. It has the potential to be all consuming.

I found that going out to dinner with friends and colleagues was dominated by chatter about jobs. I’d then rock up for work the next day to continued chatter. I ended up putting restrictions on job talk with my partner and a few friends during this time.

At the end of the day, you are more than your job. You are a wonderful, unique human being with a lot to offer the world.

Like I said, this is a stressful time. Be on the lookout for your colleagues. If you are having troubles of your own – seek help. Please. Tell your friends, your DPET, employee assistance program or any of the number of wonderful supportive organisations – Beyondblue, Lifeline or http://www.jmohealth.org.au/

See you all soon for Part 1, where we will cover the strategies I developed in answering selection criteria. If you liked this post, or have any constructive criticism, please let me know here, on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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