The labor market in many areas of healthcare is increasingly tight, and that trend is only expected to continue in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment in healthcare-related occupations will grow 16% by 2030 – well above the average growth of other fields. In addition, healthcare recruitment is estimated to add 2.6 million jobs over the next decade, more than any other career field.
Recruiting challenges will grow over the next decade
As the demand for healthcare roles grows, the pool of candidates is shrinking. The lingering effects of COVID-19 on the healthcare system cannot be denied. Many front-line providers left their fields due to burnout from the pandemic. Moreover, many healthcare fields, especially provider roles, have stringent educational and credentialing requirements. As a result, recent years have seen a widening skills gap that’s impacted some systems’ ability to hire candidates to provide quality care. These roles are also increasingly competitive from a salary perspective.
These factors put a strain on recruitment in healthcare. They narrow the pool of available candidates while making it more challenging for systems to meet the salary demands of this sought-after cohort. The fact it costs an estimated $250,000 to recruit a single physician means that finding the right candidate who will stick around is even more critical to your bottom line.
9 Strategies to maximize your healthcare recruitment
What can healthcare-centric companies do to combat these forces and recruit the right talent that stays within the organization? What makes a great job posting? How can companies communicate all that they have to offer? Read on to learn more about helpful strategies to support your efforts.
1. Evaluate what makes a good cultural addition to your organization
When you are hiring for critical roles within your organization, hiring for both hard skills and soft skills means you’ll find candidates who are good cultural additions and who will stick around.
However, that’s easier said than done, and identifying what those soft skills are is an important step. There’s no better place to start than with your current employees. What do your employees love about working for your organization? What makes your organizational culture unique? What soft skills are underrepresented?
Also, consider your philosophies around patient care. What values define how employees interact with one another? As a next step, think about how your organization communicates your differentiators to prospective hires. Defining these points (and more) ensures that your healthcare recruitment strategies have positive outcomes for retention.
2. Make DEI an imperative in recruiting
Diverse teams simply have better outcomes, especially in healthcare settings. Recruiting for a diverse workforce helps improve patient outcomes for underserved communities. Importantly, younger generations of candidates say that DEI is a requirement for their workplaces.
From an internal perspective, making your organization one which is friendly to diverse candidates plays a vital role in retention. Initiatives like employee resource groups, training programs to combat microaggressions and developing a written DEI statement are ways to engage your current team in improving your DEI efforts.
3. Look at your branding (and your postings) with fresh eyes
After you define what makes a good cultural addition internally, those values and traits have to be clear to your prospective new hires. Are you accurately representing your values to potential candidates? How are you standing out against competitors? How are you presenting yourself on your careers page? Collaborate with your marketing team to understand how the brand is reflected on your website to ensure a cohesive experience for potential candidates.
Consistency in your branding, messaging and job postings reduces friction and helps candidates know if your organization is the right fit for them.
Related, be clear and consistent with your job postings. These notices should accurately reflect the roles, responsibilities and requirements of a given position. Collaborate with your hiring manager to ensure accuracy, and make sure that job postings are not simply copy-pasted templates. Just like ensuring expectations around soft skills are clear, your job postings ensure prospective employees understand the hard skill requirements for each position.
4. Examine your multichannel strategy
Setting and forgetting a job posting on your website is no longer a viable strategy. Think of all the different channels you could be in and the candidates you are trying to capture. Then identify the set of channels that will be most effective in reaching the candidates you want to talk to. Today, these channels include events, job boards, recruiting databases, and paid and organic social media. Make sure you also consider posting to highly specific job boards for certain healthcare roles in addition to general boards like Indeed.com.
Don’t forget to leverage employee referrals as an additional channel. Your current employees should be your best ambassadors to potential hires.
5. Be specific with your message – especially to different recruiting audiences
In healthcare recruitment, hiring for an office position within your organization is very different than hiring for a provider, and your job postings, channels and communications should reflect that. The value proposition for each type of role is different. For example, an LPN seeking their first nursing role might be more persuaded by a posting that highlights on-the-job training and mentorship. At the same time, a more senior physician might consider a position that emphasizes the chance for research.
Similarly, the channels you use to reach these candidates will vary. While more junior-level employees would more likely find roles posted on different job boards, senior candidates require personal outreach and engagement.
6. Meet new grads where they are
Especially in a highly credentialed healthcare setting, finding candidates who meet all the requirements for certain positions can be challenging. Partnering with local colleges and universities that offer the programs needed to credential your roles can help, especially for roles you’ll be recruiting regularly (e.g., nurses). Partnerships with local nursing schools provide a ready pipeline of qualified, entry-level candidates.
Additionally, don’t forget about your employee referrals. Alumni networks of current employees can be a great source for entry-level candidates.
7. Reconsider your benefits and compensation
In this tight and highly competitive healthcare labor market, organizations must go beyond salary to put together a compensation package to entice candidates. Prospective employees may have a higher standard for work-life balance, flexible hours and wellness programs than your current employees. And these preferences are especially strong among millennial and Gen Z candidates. Re-evaluating your policies and providing a more holistic benefits package can make you more competitive.
However, there are benefits to working for an organization that go beyond benefits supported by the HR department. For example, will a position you’re hiring for work in a new facility? Is your location easily accessible by public transit? Do you have any state-of-the-art technology or systems that make employees’ lives easier? All these less obvious benefits can offer you an advantage when you position them well.
Plus, when effectively communicated, all of these added benefits can make your organization stand out in the sea of job postings.
8. Streamline your healthcare recruitment processes
With all these different channels and applicants at play, you’ll want to make sure your internal processes are supporting these many efforts not just during the recruitment process but also during hiring and onboarding.
For starters, eliminate any outdated methods or processes that might hinder your application process and invest in tools that reduce friction. For example, do any of your postings reference printing, faxing or mailing an application? All of these requirements will reduce the likelihood of candidates applying. Are you leveraging tools like DocuSign or HelloSign to make signatures easier for new hires? Electronic signatures are becoming more standard.
Internally, invest in software and develop processes that help streamline your referral process, track success metrics like time to hire, and identify the recruiting channels where you’re having the most success for key positions.
9. Promote from within – and promote that to your employees
As mentioned, your employees are your biggest advocates. They can also be your best candidates for open roles.
Hiring from within opens a highly qualified pool of candidates and supports retention through improved morale. This often-overlooked practice can also lower onboarding and training costs since employees already know the organization.
Of course, there aren’t always roles for every employee looking for a promotion. Leadership positions in resource groups and professional development opportunities can engage current employees and set them up for success in higher-level roles which are more challenging to fill.
Healthcare recruitment strategies infographic
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Editor’s note: This post was updated on January 18, 2023. It was originally published in August 2022.