Qualified Healthcare Candidates Exist — You Just Have To Find Them

HC-Metrics-Infographic_07During a recent meeting with a client who was struggling to find candidates, I was asked what they could do differently. The same tried-and-true methods were no longer yielding results, and their tactics were sporadically successful at best.

This client was hardly alone.

To perform at the highest levels of standards and quality, a hospital must be properly staffed to meet the needs of its patients.

For more than a decade, healthcare has experienced a shortage of workers, most notably experienced registered nurses. As the recent Bernard Hodes Group Healthcare Talent Metrics survey indicates, healthcare organizations can increase their chances of hiring more qualified employees by implementing employer brand-driven strategies and tactics that reach and engage the candidate audience more consistently.

Qualified Candidates: Where Did They Come From?

As my conversation with the aforementioned client continued, I asked where their talent came from. They could recite the myriad sources they used, but struggled to confirm whether or not those sources were yielding results.

Hodes’ Healthcare Talent Metrics revealed that 63 percent of those employers surveyed primarily rely on candidates’ self-reported data, which has proven to be unreliable, to track their external source of hire. A better practice is to consider the far-more accurate tags used in online ad tracking.

The transformation from print to online advertising was a marvel to save on advertising costs. But the true beauty of advertising jobs online is the ability to tag your ads and track all the way through to hire — something a minority of healthcare organizations are currently doing.

Also, referrals are ranked as one of the top five highest yielding sources of RN hires by 78 percent of the respondents. CareerXroads’ Source of Hire 2013: Perception is Reality research shows that in 2012 referrals were the leading external source of hire at 24.5 percent.

Let Social Media Do The Talking

Just as social media is a fast-growing communication norm for family and friends, it’s now a recruiting tool gaining steam to find and attract candidates. But social shouldn’t be used just to advertise job openings. This is an opportunity for healthcare organizations to converse with candidates, engaging them by demonstrating the employer brand experience, even before a potential candidate considers submitting an application.

AMN Healthcare’s 2011 Social Media Survey revealed that, “Nearly one-third (31 percent) of respondents cited that they are using social media for job searching.” This is a significant increase from the year before which measured only 21 percent using social networks to search for jobs.

These numbers are bound to increase with candidates becoming more comfortable with using social media, and the increased youth in the workforce, who grew up using social media personally and during their studies.

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Numbers and facts should be enough to encourage healthcare employers to consider utilizing social channels; however, the Hodes Healthcare Talent Metrics report found that of those surveyed, only 29 percent indicate they have a “career-focused” company page on Facebook, and only about 34 percent have a “career-focused” page or group on LinkedIn, with 17 percent having a paid/enhanced LinkedIn careers tab.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between the numbers of those using social media for recruitment and the increasing number of candidates using social media to search for jobs. Healthcare employers may be leaving a communication gap between themselves and candidates, and neglecting an opportunity to find new talent.

If It Takes Longer To Fill a Position, Don’t Lose Candidates’ Interest

It may not be surprising to know that larger healthcare providers and systems take longer to fill RN and Allied Health positions. For example, those healthcare systems that participated in the Hodes survey responded that, on average, it takes 54 days to fill occupational therapist positions, compared to individual hospitals and other providers that take about 36 days to fill those same positions.

The reasons for a lengthy hiring process may vary due to factors such as heavier recruiter workloads and having a complex hiring process.

Don’t risk losing candidates’ interest in jobs because the process takes longer. Developing strategies to keep candidates engaged throughout the process, such as frequent and personalized communications articulating the employer brand, can show candidates your desire for them to join the organization.


The U.S. healthcare system is at a critical juncture with the implementation of healthcare reform. The stakes are increasingly high for healthcare organizations that need to balance a high level of care with the new reform requirements. With reimbursement on the line, healthcare organizations must become more proactive and recognize where they may be missing opportunities to find and hire qualified talent.

Judith Russell, RN, BSN, is vice president of Bernard Hodes Group’s healthcare division. With over 30 years of healthcare, marketing and HR experience, she consults with clients on the full continuum of finding, attracting and retaining talent. Additionally, she consults with healthcare clients about the use of social media for recruiting and communicating the employer brand. Based in Orange County, California, she is a frequent speaker on healthcare recruiting topics.


7 Comments on “Qualified Healthcare Candidates Exist — You Just Have To Find Them

  1. Judy – excellent article. Your article hits on some great points and brings to light some insightful statistics. Specifically, I could not agree more with your data showing that the candidate self-select process is unreliable and yet companies are still using this process to identify best source of hire. Many if not all companies use this data to decide where to continue to advertise and what is the cost per hire.
    As the recruitment ecosystem continues to evolve there are many sources (social media, job boards, video ads, etc.) that serve up job advertisements to seekers. As a job seeker, it’s difficult if not impossible to know where you saw that job that you applied to. Additionally if the apply process if too cumbersome an in demand or passive candidate might not complete the apply process and you will miss out on a potentially great hire.

    The hiring trend in Healthcare isn’t going to change anytime soon. According to the Bureau of Labor Statists the job outlook growth rate for Nurses from 2010-2020 is 26% versus the average job growth rate of 14%. Home Health and Personal Aids are expected to grow 70% in the same time period! BLS

    In speaking with my customers the feedback has been that there isn’t one magic bullet out there that can be used to fill critical healthcare positions. To hire the best candidates and keep vacancy rates low healthcare organizations need to use a variety of resources, track their effectiveness and let technology help ease the challenge of a tight healthcare labor market.

  2. Author Douglas Adams writes that, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” Having a wealth of experience to draw from is a key factor in being an intuitive leader. “Green” employees may come up with or luck into good decisions every now and then, but those individuals whose have experienced both successes and failures yet have made the most of both are an asset to your organization. – Careerbuilder article – Top Five Signs for Recognizing Intuitive Leaders http://www.careerbuilder.com/jobposter/small-business/article.aspx?articleid=ATL_0247INTUITION_s

  3. I think it’ll be interesting to see what the rapid influx of millions of new people getting access to healthcare within a some months, and a without a corresponding increase in healtcare providers. I’ve heard that NPs are working to take over some of the functions that MDs currently provide, and that the MDs are pushing back….


  4. Thanks so much AA for your comments above. Keith – we definitely have seen an increase demand for nurse practitioners and the time to fill them can be lengthy as well. Since the shortage for primary care physicians is on the rise, employers are hoping that NPs can help fill that gap. I read an article recently and here is a quote from it: “Primary care in New York is already at crisis level,” Alan Diaz, an internist and past president of the Bronx Medical Society, told the AP. “When we get another million insured, I tell my residents, colleagues and patients, there will be no physician in New York to serve them.” That speaks volumes!

  5. Thanks, Judith. As a nurse, what do you think the best way(s) to deal with the healthcare-provider shortage? I’ve also heard that while there is a good supply of nurses in desirable locations like the Bay Area, there are already shortages in many rural and some urban areas.


  6. Keith – First and foremost, as a nurse still working to support recruiting efforts for the profession I would like to see more promotion of nursing (i.e., like the campaigns that Johnson & Johnson did) in all media to keep the pipeline going for coming years. And, as I recommend to clients, think of ideas for retention – keep your employees engaged so they will feel an ownership to their organization. We see that many organizations realize the importance of their “real” brand and are addressing this. This article supports that from Time Business & Money, March 2013: “47% – say that a company’s online reputation matters as much as the job offer. That could come as a surprise to a lot of companies, as only 27% of companies feel that social media influences how a job candidate views them.”

  7. Thank you Judith. I think that the” “47% – say that a company’s online reputation matters as much as the job offer.”
    applies to the minority of skillsets (such as nursing) where people may have offer options. If you are grateful for ANY offers (as I think the great majority of American job seekers are in this economy), you’re more likely to “hold your nose and jump in”.


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