How to Beat the Healthcare Hiring Crunch: 6 Out-of-the-Box Ideas

3 min read

Faced with a candidate-driven market, healthcare recruiters are forced to think outside the box. Whether you’re a care home, hospital or health tech startup—your old recruitment strategy isn’t going to snag you the talent you need. So, what will?

Getting hired as a nurse or physician once meant a job for life. But now, those days are gone.

Research shows 1 in 5 nurses leave their first job within a year, and the National Healthcare Retention and RN Staffing Report found the average hospital turnover rate was 18.2% in 2017.

Faced with a candidate-driven market, healthcare recruiters are forced to think outside the box. Whether you’re a care home, hospital or health tech startup—your old recruitment strategy isn’t going to snag you the talent you need. So, what will?

Here are a few ideas you probably haven't tried.

1. Recruit like a millennial

Traditional recruitment with its thick hiring manuals and outdated systems is a total turn-off for potential candidates—especially if they want a role working with cutting-edge health technology.

Let's not forget that more than 1 in 3 workers are millennials, making them the largest generation in the US labor force. And while they're certainly not the only generation of talent to welcome technology in the workplace, they definitely expect the hiring process to reflect the same level of technological sophistication they're used to in their daily lives. And if it doesn’t, they won’t apply.

Make sure candidates of all ages have everything they need to find and apply for your open positions, straight from their mobile phones. And if you really want to go for gold, why not let them set up an interview in a matter of minutes via SMS?

2. Hit refresh on your employer brand

According to LinkedIn’s 2017 Global Recruiting Trends report over 80% of leaders acknowledge employer branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire talent.

A strong brand, supported by a clear and compelling mission, lets candidates know why they should work for you vs. the competition—and these days, you definitely need to them to see that. Your healthcare employer brand is that first foundational building block on which the rest of your talent acquisition strategy rests. Make sure it's solid.


Staffing firm AMN Healthcare’s employer brand message promotes their open, honest and inclusive work environment. Its primary communication tool is social media where they share behind-the-scenes images that illustrate how their culture plays out in real life.

“You might have this nice little mission statement, but if you aren’t actually seeing and hearing inclusion happen on a daily basis throughout the organization, then that mission statement doesn’t mean much," says CEO, Susan Salka. We couldn't agree more.

3. Be bold with your benefits

If the current turnover rate is anything to go by, today's healthcare employers clearly don't know what their employees are really looking for at work. Is it career progression? Flexible working options? Debt relief?

Truth is, it may be all of the above. But that doesn't mean you need to break the budget trying to offer everything from meditation pods to Michelin-star meals. Take some time to focus on the most impactful benefits for your ideal candidates and whatever you do, don’t bury your perks at the bottom of your job ad.

Instead, play them all the way up. Build your benefits around your mission statement and core values to let potential candidates know both how and why your employment packages are better than the rest.

4. Bring your employee referral program into the 21st century

Referrals are an excellent recruitment tool. But are you using them correctly?

More than one-third of employees in the US landed their current job via referral. And employees who get the chance to act as in-house recruiters are known to be more engaged and less likely to leave. Problem is, when you use your current rockstars to attract your future rockstars, you run the risk of watering down your entire workforce.

Update your employee referral program to include a clear focus on your company's diversity and inclusion (D&I) goals, while making sure you have the D&I proof you need to appeal to the 67% of job seekers who will definitely weigh that in when choosing their next move.

5. Spread your diversity wings

You can find talent in unexpected places, so don’t rule anything or anyone out.

For example, veterans are an often-overlooked group of talent that can bring a truly unique skill set and work ethic and set you miles ahead of the competition.  


When Nathan Bracken left the military, he decided to become a nurse. He was attracted to the flexible working schedule and the fact that there were nursing opportunities close to home. Even though he had no previous training, he went ahead and enrolled in the nursing program at Kirtland Community College-Grayling in Michigan.

Despite his initial fears about reentering the workforce, Nathan quickly discovered his military background had more than prepared him for a dynamic healthcare environment. "In the military, there’s a saying: adapt and overcome…And our nursing instructors at Grayling have told us from the very beginning that flexibility is a big part of nursing.”

6. Go long

Don’t wait until you have a job vacancy to go candidate hunting.

If you want to attract the best talent, you need to think long-term. Be proactive by creating a robust talent pipeline that grows with every applicant you meet. And always keep in touch with the people that have the skills you're looking for.

If that sounds like a lot of work, don't worry. With the right applicant tracking system you can easily set up an automated candidate nurture sequence that does the heavy lifting for you, plus you'll have a dedicated place to keep track of all your notes and candidate communications.

Because if you really want to stand out in a tight talent market, you've got to be willing to do the things other employers won't.

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