Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the off-cycle job hunt

I was recently at ASCO and having dinner with a friend from residency. I asked about his post fellowship job hunt and he shared the details of what sounded like exhaustive process that had finally resulted in a position with a large pharmaceutical company. He asked me what networking I had done - or was planning to- do while at the conference.

Yeah, like to get a job.
Uh, I haven’t started thinking about it.

And thus ensued a forty-five minute lecture. How could I have not started this process already? I should have a letter of intent and an updated CV. I should have started cold calling large oncology practices. I should have come to the conference knowing who was going to be here and how I was going to introduce myself. The fact I will be graduating late should have spurned me into starting the search earlier.

I sank lower into my chair and, as he continued to berate my lack of preparedness, accidentally finished the massive slice of chocolate cheesecake we had intended to share. I left the restaurant not knowing if the queasiness in my stomach was from anxiety or a butter bezoar.

Although technically I am about to enter my third and final year of fellowship, because I started late due to my first maternity leave (in residency) and owe this program time for my second leave, I won’t finish until October 1, 2013.  The heme and onc boards are in late October, so I wasn’t planning on starting “a real job” until November 2013. Factor in a possible move, I might not be ready to start work until December 2013.

But I have to start the search now? My friend is an intensely driven and consummate go-getter. Both of his parents are successful academic physicians, his older sisters are also physicians, and I suspect he learned about RVUs and impact factors at the family dinner table. He knows a shocking amount of information about the business end of being a physician – how to get grants, publications, protected time, compensation, promotions, jobs, etc. During residency, fellowship, and now, apparently at the start of my job hunt, he was, and is currently, trying to tell me what-I-should-know in order to be successful.  Although I know the constant “advice” comes from a place of caring (and it does, despite the fact I am making him sound like a jerk), he can drive me a bit insane.

But he might be right. I will be graduating off cycle, perhaps almost six months after other fellows are ready to start working. I want to move back to my hometown, a medium-sized city with its own set of fellows graduating from the local university. There are some cities where the heme/onc job market is saturated and if I wait to start the search, I might not be able to find a job at all. He reminded me of a mutual friend who couldn’t find a position until a community oncologist actually died.

I think in the writing of this post I have convinced myself of what I already suspected to be true – as daunting as it may seem, I should start looking now.

A real job. Like a grown-up. Who doesn't procrastinate.


  1. He might be right, but that doesn't make him less anxiety inducing. If you can get past his approach it sounds like he could be a *great* source of information about this sort of thing. I'm sure you'll find a job, and starting the search now might help you find the best job. you're probably way less behind than he made you feel.

  2. Eventually- the whole "off cycle" thing has to disappear, right? So, even if it seems big now- maybe it won't be later. :) good luck!

  3. Openings come up all year and sometimes waiting for the next "cycle" is not feasible. The timing could work in your favor. Wouldn't stress too much about it and enjoy these last months of fellowship.


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