Posts Tagged ‘bait and switch’

On pushy recruiters, sleep deprivation, and our tendency to sabotage our own happiness

November 3, 2010

The price that you pay can be steep

For the nights that you spend without sleep.

     The abuse that you take

     While you’re staying awake

Can lead you to rage and to weep.

I deal with a lot of recruiters for the locum tenens agencie that find short-term work for doctors.  The level of professionalism varies a good deal.   When I started this year of going walkabout, I wanted to experience good recruiters and bad; today I dealt with the worst.

Pushy people can be trusted to be pushy; they cannot be trusted to develop good interpersonal learning skills.  For the first time ever, I told a recruiter not to call, not to email, and to take my name off his list.

In the beginning of this process, I accepted a lot of jobs  that disappeared into a cloud of bait-and-switch smoke (see my posts from March and April).  I’ve learned a lot.  I don’t have to talk to any new recruiters; I know three good ones.

I attended a patient today who might have a lot of different diagnoses, but I suspect chronic, long-term sleep deprivation gives rise to most of the problems.  Of course I ran a lot of lab work, but I did a good deal of career counseling.

Far too many people slice years from their life expectancies for the sake of their employment, notably doctors.  We get a set of skills, acquire an exaggerated sense of our own importance, and sacrifice our sleep.  Sometimes life-and-death issues justify the sleeplessness, more often late nights result from a misplaced sense of responsibility. 

Other professions provide necessary services in the wee hours, and a lot of people work nights who don’t have to.  They effectively move to a different time zone than their families live in, sabotaging intimacy.  A predictable cascade of events follows, some physical, some sociological; most to the detriment of the person, the family and society.

An industrialist friend of my started a third shift in his plant, and I begged him not to.  What you make up in increased production, I said, you’ll lose in work-related accidents and the families of your workers will suffer.   He said that he had a lot of people asking to work nights.

I’m not working nights at all in my current position.  I walk out of the office promptly at closing time: five o’clock Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; seven on Tuesday and Thursday.  This afternoon after work I went out to the trap range with my shotgun.  I can blame my mediocre shooting on the bad wind.

Why is a free-lance artist like a locum tenens doctor?

October 18, 2010

The worst ones will lie and they’ll steal

I said to my bro at a meal

    But the great ones are pros    

   And bargain well I suppose

And everyone wins in the deal.

In the east for my wife’s family gathering, I called in New York on one my brothers and one of my sisters.

There are seven of us, we span 35 years and both coasts.  We are all intelligent and dyslexic with way  off-the-beaten-track senses of humor.  The other six (not me) possess great artistic talent.

You’ve seen my brother’s artwork in It’s a Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, and Cars.  Currently he’s doing story boarding and working on his MFA in painting.

I talked to my brother about dealing with the locum tenens agencies (there are more than eighty; I’ve personally talked with about twenty-five), observing that the three parameters of professionalism, honesty, and flakiness shake out to a bell-shaped distribution.

“Listen,” he said, “Take it from me, and remember I’ve been free-lancing for decades, don’t deal with agencies, go directly to the employer.”

My brother should know; he sent out mailings of his portfolio on a regular basis for quite a while, and has first hand experience dealing with a dishonest agent.

I said, “I tried.  I called and mailed twenty health-care sites in central Nebraska and didn’t get a single call back.”

“Oh…Well they probably just want to deal with agencies,” he said.  “Then what you need to do is just deal with the best agencies.”

“That’s a great idea.” I said, “As part of this experience I wanted to deal with some good recruiters and some bad.  But if I was going to be doing this for very long I already know which agencies, there are two of them, that I’d go with.  The rest aren’t worth it.”

“How do you mean?”

“I’ve said yes to fifteen jobs so far and three have come through.  Sometimes it was poor communication, but I expect good communication from a recruiter, after all, that’s they do.  Sometimes they just out-and-out barefaced lied when they tried to do a bait-and-switch.”

He shuddered.

“And there’s this one recruiter,” I went on, “over the phone she sounds breathless and blond but she is a pro, an absolute professional.”  One of his eyebrows went up.  “Right after I agreed to a placement she had me specify six parameters for reimbursement…”  Both eyebrows went up.  “She wanted to know,” I explained, “How much I wanted for straight time, overtime, carrying a beeper, getting called, getting called in, and holidays.  Well, I had never thought of those things because no recruiter had ever asked me.”

“No?” my brother asked.

“Not one.  And I suspect that she’s a top-notch negotiator because she can get people to underestimate her.  She just got me a better deal than I asked for, and I’m pretty sure the folks she talked with would work with her again.  And that’s the mark of a good agent, getting the best deal for both parties.”