Fellows Survival Guide

Finding and Landing a Job
  1. Types of jobs
    Your job search will mostly depend on the career path you decided to follow. Whether it is academic medicine that you decide to pursue, or private sector, industry or public health, know the “market” and the need so that you know your strengths and what you can add to the table. Talk with your mentor(s) about where to find opportunities that might not be widely posted or that you may have missed on a first pass. Know your goals! Be strict about what you are looking for in a job. You can even write a mission statement for yourself that describes what your ideal career would look like, including long-term. Know your strengths and skills.
  2. CV, cover letter, biosketch
    Get in the habit of updating your CV early in fellowship; follow your institution’s standard format. Also prepare your NIH Biosketch, and write a cover letter prior to starting your application process.
  3. When to start and typical timeline: 
    Start thinking about your job early in your second year, and start browsing websites and developing connections during this time. At the latest, you should begin seriously investigating job opportunities around the beginning of your third year. This includes reviewing online sources (see below), exploring opportunities at your current institution, and reaching out to other institutions of interest. ID Week in October is an excellent time to ask your mentors to introduce you to people and to begin seriously networking for jobs. While there is no defined interview season, the most common time for interviews is late fall through early spring. Keep in mind that once you have accepted a position, the credentialing and licensing process takes at least a few months, and often longer.
    If you have visa limitations (such as needing a waiver for a J1 visa), you should start this process even earlier, as many states close their applications in the fall of the year preceding your start date. Likewise, if you have other restrictions (e.g. geographic), it would be good to start this process early. It never hurts for an institution to know that you are interested; hiring situations often change and the more you make yourself available, the more likely you are to be in “the right place at the right time.”
    Throughout this process, try not to put all of your eggs in one basket, and continue to apply for and pursue positions even if things look promising with a specific job. Until you have been offered a position, there is always a risk that something may significantly change. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have more than one option when negotiating your contract.
  4. Where to search
    “Look everywhere and talk to everyone” was common advice given by recent job seekers. Unfortunately, jobs are not all listed in the same place, and some jobs may never be posted. The PIDS website is a good place to start if you are searching for an academic job. Other organizations and websites advertising jobs include: IDSA websiteLinkedInDoximityPhysiciansJobsPlusindeedSimply Hiredpracticelinkcareermdpedjobs, and the JPIDS classifieds (check CID and JID, too), in addition to known search engines.
    Industry jobs may be posted on monster.com, pharmaceutical company websites, LinkedIn, or Doximity. CDC jobs may be posted at usajobs.govNIH jobs are posted on their website as well as their clinical center website. The FDA posts job listings on its website.
    Contacting a recruiter may also be useful.
    Sometimes, word of mouth may be your key: ask around, check with your program director, reach out to programs about potential jobs, and improve your contact repertoire during meetings such as IDWeek, PAS and PIDS/St Jude. If you are interested in a particular hospital or region, talk with faculty at your current institution to identify contacts at hospitals of interest. You can contact them directly with a CV and cover letter expressing your interest, but it also helps to have a faculty member facilitate the conversation.
  5. Interview
    The interview process depends on the institution at which you are interviewing. Some places conduct a phone interview first. Most academic centers will invite you for the first interview where you will get a big picture view of how they work, and then, if you are a good match with their program, invite you for a second interview where you can discuss details. If there is someone in particular you’d like to meet (such as the microbiology director or a particular scientist you may collaborate with etc.), ask for it. It shows them you know what you want and it lets you learn more about the institution and your interest. During the interview, be yourself, ask about what interests you, how you would fit into the institution’s goals, and how they can fit into your career goals. This is a huge step, so don’t be nervous about asking questions. At some point in the process, you will likely be asked to give a 30-45 minute talk about your research or area of interest. Begin preparing for this as you begin applying for jobs.
  6. Negotiating the contract:
    Remember: everything is negotiable!
    1. Negotiating the contract Remembering: everything is negotiable! In general, institutions follow national averages to make a salary offer, considering their location, cost of living, and your experience. The AAMC publishes an annual Faculty Salary Report and while free access is restricted, most institutions subscribe to this service and you should consider asking your Program Director or Division Chief if they can share this information with you. When institutions make their offer, they usually expect you to negotiate. However, many mentors recommend not placing so much emphasis on the salary, especially at first, but making sure the contract terms fit well into your career path and the quality of life you are looking for. You can start by negotiating other important factors such as FTE (full-time equivalent), wRVU (discussed below), call hours, and a clear promotion/advancement track.FTE refers to the way your time will be allocated. If you are interested in pursuing a career in Infection Prevention, this cannot be realistically achieved if you’re only allocated 20% of your time for this task. This applies to any area of focus you decide to enter. Address these issues early on! Remember to include teaching in your FTE allocation if you’re in an academic setting.Negotiating lab space an material, startup costs, and initial financial support is extremely important if you’ll be following a research track. You should understand the timeline when you’re expected to bring in independent grant funding and what metrics will be used to evaluate your academic success. Consult with your mentor to assist in making sure you are starting in the best possible position for success along a research track.Almost all of us, regardless of which track we choose will participate in clinical care of patients. Some institutions use the work RVU as a standard to the expectation for every physician. The wRVU is directly derived from your billing! Know what the RVU expectations are (for the first 3 years, as those may be low in your FTE allocated for clinical work. Make sure you understand billing systems and regulations. Consult with your mentors regarding appropriate FTE allotments, startup packages, and RVU expectations. Employers know that you are new to this process and will not be surprised that you are informed and puts you in a better position to negotiate.Ask a lawyer to look at your contract since most are written in technical language and are not easy to understand. Two very important clauses you need to review are the non-complete clause (which would prohibit you from working withing a certain mileage radius if you decide to leave the institution) and the malpractice tail insurance (which will cover any malpractice suits that may be filed years after your leave the practice). Remember to check benefit packages, including life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and retirement plans. Also, ask about relocation and loan repayment packages, and signing bonuses as many institutions offer these benefits.

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