Gone are the days when we get the opportunity to meet someone who’s spent nearly their entire career in the same field. Well, that’s the case with David Townsend aka DT, who brought nearly 30 years of experience recruiting physicians, when he joined The Newell Group back in early 2019. In this week’s edition of the of Beyond the Recruiter, DT talks about how he fell into this career, what’s kept him going, and he reveals why, if you live in Greenville, you actually may know his name for an entirely different reason.
How did you become a recruiter?
So, when Methuselah was a child, it feels like a long time ago. It was actually “a friend of a friend of a friend” kind of a thing. It was back in the early 90’s and I’m pretty sure he had to send smoke signals to get my attention. But no, honestly just called and said “Hey, there’s this person who used to work for me and has gone into physician recruiting.” It sounded really interesting but I’m not lying. I went on at least four interviews before I started to grasp the concept of what they did. I didn’t understand, “Physicians don’t just get jobs? Hospitals don’t just hire?” I just didn’t understand it but once I got in and did, I was hooked, and here we are 28 years later.
What’s kept you in this career?
One thing that I have always been fulfilled by is helping a community. Yes, I absolutely love helping the individual families, helping a physician navigate the process and start a great career, but also the impact that our work has on communities. I have had searches before where it was the first pediatrician to ever be in a town, they no longer had to go 30, 45 minutes away. It’s those type of stories that get me up in the morning. I love helping the hospital, the community as well as the individual families impacted.
What’s one “myth” about recruiters you hear that just isn’t true?
You know I do think one major myth people just assume that as recruiter, my job is to get them a job, and therefore that can kind of influence the decisions that I make. And that’s not really the case.
I have figured out through doing this a long time, that the candidate is either going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. My job is just to help get them the information so that they can make an educated, ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The worst thing in the world is saying no to something, and you really don’t have all the facts straight. You don’t really realize what this job is going to be. Or even saying yes, for that matter, when all the facts aren’t laid out. I look at it as, yes, I’m going to get paid if you take this job, that’s how I put food on the table. But really, I just want to get you the information to where you can very confidently say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
What’s an interesting story from your years of recruiting?
So, a very strange thing that happened to me, early in my career as I was actually living in Dallas, a long time ago. Our physician recruitment firm was based in Atlanta, and one of the guys from Atlanta called me because he was dealing with a physician in Dallas. He simply said, “Something is just not right. The CV looks great but there’s just something not right.” So, he made up an excuse for me to go deliver some papers to get signed just because he wanted someone to meet this person face-to-face.
And so, here I am, you know 25-years-old, and they sent me over. I walk in this house and at first the couple is just as nice as can be, and we’re having a great chat. But, as I started looking around the living room I started noticing that yes, it was full of art, but it was X-rated art. Like, Wonder Woman and Superman doing things that they’re not supposed to be doing to each other. As a 25-year-old innocent, young buck, I was just like “get me out of here.”
Then I went back and shared the story with the other recruiters. To this day, they still give me a hard time about that.
What’s something unique about you, people may not know?
A lot of people hear people call me DT because my name is David Townsend. They just assume it is a very simple nickname, which it is. I was actually on the radio for 7-8 years doing sports talk radio here in the Greenville-Clemson area. I loved it. My name on air was DT because we did not think, until we were literally going on the air, that we needed to have a name that first day. I love talking sports, I love watching all sports. I was especially on there for golf and soccer, two of my main loves. But I will watch anything. Every once and a while someone will say ‘your voice sounds familiar’ or ‘your laugh especially sounds familiar.’
How did your time in radio influence your career as a recruiter?
There is one big lesson that I learned. Someone told me at the very beginning, “If you go in radio, you will be fired. And what you want to do is always make sure that you are yourself.” It’s very easy to be on the radio and talk like, or act like and be like somebody else that you heard on the radio and really respected and really liked. It’s really easy to not be yourself.
The lesson I learned there, was if you’re going to get fired, make sure you’re getting fired by being yourself. The last thing you want to do is say, “Oh no, no, that’s not me.” I think that has applied to the business with everything. If you’re going to go down, go down being yourself, not doing what you think someone else wants you to do or being someone else that they want you to be.