One of the most powerful marketing tools that a physician can have is a letter of recommendation from a colleague. So often I talk with a surgeon about a job opportunity and they tell me to ‘just send them a copy of my CV’, but these days it takes much more than that in such a competitive industry. Recruiters and decision makers for hospitals and healthcare facilities can sometimes see hundreds or resumes per month. There are times when a job opens up and a decision maker receives so many CV’s that great surgeons can sometimes get buried under a stack without a fair review. One way to get to the top of the list and set yourself apart from your competitors is a letter of recommend.
A letter of recommend, as you may have already guessed, is a letter written by a co-worker, friend, or colleague and helps to give a third party perspective of the person being reviewed. Often times a letter of recommend can help attest to the physicians work ethic, tell more about the physicians personality, give examples of times when he/she has gone above and beyond, or describe a cultural fit within an organization. These are subjects not easily able to be described in a resume or CV, but can always be sent along with these items when applying for a locum tenens or permanent job. A letter of recommendation is different than a reference, the “LOR” is something I use for marketing, the reference is what we use for credentialing.
Its like a secret weapon.
Most providers & recruiters simply do not realize the value of including a letter of recommendation with a presentation, therefore few people actually do it. Some providers feel like it is a burden to ask a colleague to spend a few minutes writing on their behalf. For those that do, they benefit from an advantage over their competitors. Imagine the ‘wow factor’ of the decision maker on the other end that gets to learn more about a potential candidate through the words of his/her colleagues. I could give countless examples of how letters of recommendation have helped the providers that I work with get the edge up on other potential candidates. For now you’ll have to trust me, it pays dividends over and over because I can use them any time I present you to an opportunity and it really isn’t that hard to do.
Residents and Fellows:
Residents and new fellows don’t have a lot of history or experience to draw upon when presenting to clients. Letters of recommendation are so important for new providers and many decision makers who otherwise might be reluctant to hire a surgeon fresh out of residency will give more consideration once they are able to learn more about that persons attributes and work ethic.
Leverage for special circumstances:
Occasionally I work with great surgeons who might have been dealt a bad hand with bad politics in the work place, or perhaps a higher than normal amount of malpractice. I am very selective of who I partner with and would not work with a surgeon that I would not feel comfortable operating on a family member. This type of confidence must come from me talking with the providers references and truly understanding who the person behind the CV is. On the other hand, a provider with some questions about their background may not make it that far in the eyes of the decision maker unless preempted with a LOR. Think of it as a scale, if a provider is weighed down by some malpractice or an NPDB report, use letters of recommend to balance that scale out and help the decision maker to really know that provider.
The bottom line:
Letters of recommend go above and beyond for any type of surgeon and they are worth the extra effort it may take to acquire them. They certainly aren’t required, but that is where it becomes an advantage. What is the old saying? To succeed, you must be willing to do what the others aren’t willing to do.
I have known Dr. ____________ for over _______ years. (EXAMPLE TEXT) He was a trauma fellow at _____ Medical Center when I was an active trauma surgeon there. He was one of the best fellows that trained with us, therefore at the conclusion of his fellowship he was asked to join the group of trauma surgeons. We continued to be partners until 2009, when he left to become the director at ______ Hospital. (EXAMPLE TEXT)
Dr. ________ (EXAMPLE TEXT) is a well-trained, talented surgeon, and is excellent at taking care of complex critically ill patients. I have no hesitation to recommend him to work as a trauma surgeon or as a general surgeon with your company. I have so much faith in Dr. ______, that I have recently left employment at __________ to join ______ at ___________. (EXAMPLE TEXT)
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