Is Your Healthcare Hiring Process Outdated? Here's How to Bring it Up to Date

7 min read

Healthcare organizations are under pressure to attract the best talent, but their processes aren't up to snuff. Here's how to revamp your process and hire the best talent healthcare has to offer.

Today's healthcare workers don't have time to job search. Some 46% of parents work full time and when it comes doctors, nurses and other patient-facing practitioners, the hours are notoriously long and hard.

Yet 85% of employers agree that the most in-demand workers are the ones who keep an eye out for exciting new employment opportunities. But with so little time on their hands, you need to grab their attention quick, and hold on to it.

Top candidates expect the application process to be of a certain standard. What they don’t want is to spend ages trawling through multiple job boards, travel long distances to attend interviews, or waste time trying to fill out wonky application forms on a mobile screen.

If you want to score the best talent before your competitors even know what hit them, you need to give potential candidates everything they need to make applying a no-brainer.

First, do you know what healthcare candidates want in a job?

Believe it or not, healthcare professionals aren’t driven solely by the size of their paycheck.

They want meaningful work and benefits that reflect their personal lifestyle needs. Dr. John Sullivan, the well-known HR thought leader, points out that what really drives nurses to change jobs is, “...not will you pay me. But do you have the best equipment, do you have the best doctors, do the nurses get the opportunity to make decisions and try new things.”

Sounds fair. But how do you know if your hiring process is hitting the mark? Or, for most of us, how do you fix it if it's not hitting the mark?

We've lined up a series of questions and answers to help you diagnose the problems in your hiring process and find a fix that will work for you.

How many different systems do you use for recruitment and hiring?

Hint: More than two is too many.

There's no shortage of tech systems to help streamline your hiring. But having to switch between four or five every time you post a new job isn't going to make your hiring team more efficient.

There's just no real reason to have a separate system for sourcing talent, another for running background checks and yet another for managing candidate engagement. The margin for error in a disparate process like that is bound to be high. And worse, candidates are more likely to feel disconnected and confused by it.

How to fix it

Smart automation.

Operative word: smart.

Rather than adopting technology for the sake of saying you're "invested in the future", healthcare organizations need to adopt technology to become more efficient and to provide better experiences—both for patients and candidates.

Look for centralized recruitment tech with an open API. An efficient hiring workflow will let you check candidate credentials, keep the entire team in the loop and easily integrate with your CRM —all from one central place. Not only will this make your future candidates love you, it'll also help remove some serious headaches for your hiring team.

Does your employer brand need a makeover?

Like it or not, candidates judge whether or not they want to work for you based on what they've heard and seen.

And according to research, a strong employer brand attracts more applicants per job vacancy. It also lowers employee turnover and reduces recruitment costs.

But too many healthcare organizations are still sending applicants to career pages that haven't been updated since the early 2000s. For choosy candidates, it a major turn-off.

How to fix it

It can be tricky to nail your employer brand, especially if there's some internal confusion about who you are or who you want to be.

Either way, there's nothing keeping you from utilizing your employees to help make your brand more authentic. To give your brand a personal voice, ask employees to share their real reviews and stories on your Glassdoor, social media profiles or anywhere else potential candidates can bump into you online. Peer recommendations will prevail over generic videos and stock photos every time.

Rally your teams to become your employer brand ambassadors and you’ll be surprised how quickly they'll jump at the chance to help out.

Are your job ads jargon-packed?

If you’re still sending out generic, blanketed job ads or producing templated job descriptions—please, just stop. The job search is a highly personal experience for candidates. Do them a favor and keep the jargon and fluff out of it.

In an increasingly tight talent market, relevant content is the only kind that cuts through.

Candidates don’t care about what technical skills they need for a new role. They want to know what you can do for them. Do you offer career progression? Job-share options? Flexible hours? Generous parental leave? What about you is different from every other ad they've seen?

Pay attention to what your ideal candidate really wants. The things that are important to a millennial nurse living in San Francisco may differ from a Gen X radiologist in rural Ohio. Make sure your ads are targeting the right audience and you'll hit many more hiring home runs.

How to fix it

The answer to this one is surprisingly simple: talk to your people.

Send out a quick survey and ask your current employees about their needs, thoughts, priorities and ideas. Your employee survey can be attributed, anonymous or both—sometimes the difference between both types of surveys can be quite telling.

Here are a couple questions you can include:

  • What made you initially decided to start working with us?
  • What other companies or positions were you considering at the time?
  • What aspects of your job are you most grateful for?
  • What aspects could be improved?

It's always a good idea to add an open-ended question at the bottom of your survey so you can see your employees' responses verbatim. Something like, 'Tell us about your favorite parts of your job' should do the trick.

Then apply this information to help you play up your best attributes in your job ads. It's also a great way to grab testimonials for your careers page.

Are you using the right job boards?

You might have a great job ad, but if it doesn't reach your target audience?

All that great work has gone to waste. Remember, healthcare professionals don’t have a ton of time to surf multiple job boards. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to find you.

If you’re posting on your website, high-traffic job boards or pay-for-performance recruitment sites, this might not be the best long-term plan for attracting candidates with specialist knowledge. It can also be pretty expensive.

How to fix it

  • Use an ATS that automatically posts every job ad too all the free job boards.
  • Think like a headhunter and create a pipeline based on targeted pools of talent you can nurture and monitor.
  • Use predictive analytics to help determine where, when and how you run job ads to target specific candidates. Nurses might be looking at jobs during the evening, or at breaks during a night shift, while a staff administrator is more likely to check out roles early in the morning before work.

Do you have a bad or non-existent online rep?

Organizations sometimes forget their greatest advocates are their employees.

In healthcare, where referrals and recommendations are a powerful way to hire the best talent, a referral carries a lot of weight. Jean Scheuer, VP of the Gannett Healthcare Group says, “If a nurse is happy somewhere they will bring three friends with them.”

Three friends?! Not bad.

Can you imagine the results you could get if you opened that up to include your employees online friends, too? It's possible.

According to 2016 survey from Glassdoor, 70% of job seekers said they read online reviews before they made career decisions. But if you've got anything less than a 4-star rating, you've got some work to do.

How to fix it

With a little elbow grease, you can quickly get your online employer rating up into 5-star status.

Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Ask employees how likely they are to refer you to friends and family (bonus points if you can offer referral incentives to monitor this better).
  • Launch a low-key internal email campaign asking employees to leave a review in your online talent source of choice (ideally the one where the best of the best candidates come from).
  • Ask employees to share or post positive stories about the workplace (make it an informal request, don’t put them on the spot).
  • Find out why employees will or will not recommend you (tricky yes, but super insightful).
  • Promote your employer brand internally by keeping employees in the loop about the company's community-focused activities and initiatives.

Last but not least, if you can commit to making frequent and transparent communication with employees a part of your company culture, you can win big online without even trying.

Is your application process really mobile-friendly?

Long working hours and unusual shift patterns are a common feature of most jobs in the healthcare industry. But like every other job seeker, healthcare candidates want to apply quickly and efficiently on their own terms and timeline.

And these days, it's not enough to have a mobile-optimized careers page.

Your entire hiring process should be mobile-friendly from A to Z. Use a system that allows candidates to instantly apply wherever they are and actually engage candidates on their own turf, whether that be via chatbot or SMS.

How to fix it

Opt for recruitment tools that offer like one-click or ‘easy-to-apply’ functionality.

Remember, it isn’t about reducing the quality of the application process but rather speeding it up and meeting the day-to-day the needs of your candidates.

Do "failed" candidates resent you?

In case you haven't noticed, we say "failed" ironically here.

Because honestly, all candidates have a massive impact on your hiring success, even the ones who don't get hired. And given that all candidates are human (at least, for now), they all want a personal and transparent recruitment experience.

Candidates and applicants don’t want the interaction to feel like a generic transaction, or feel confused by inconsistent messages. From the very first interaction to the last, your communication style should always be consistent.

If you say you’re going to call someone back, do it. An erratic process can leave the candidates feeling confused, frustrated, ignored and detached. And even if they get the job, your future credibility is already dented.

How to fix it

Candidates need clear information and regular updates at every stage of the hiring process.

From sending a simple 'Thank You’ email upon receiving their resume, to making them feel welcome when they attend an interview and important even when they get turned down— candidates deserve the same level of courtesy throughout.

Tell them at the very beginning what the process is and how it will work. Then follow it through. By being consistent, you’ll build trust and maintain your reputation as an employer. Don’t forget, if a candidate has a bad experience with you, they will tell their friends or even go online and tell the world.

Be honest, how would you rate your candidate communication?

The human touch is vital in recruitment.

How you speak to people matters. Candidates don’t want to feel like they're sitting on a conveyor belt and generic communications give the impression that you're not bothered.

But what if you have hundreds of applicants hitting your inbox every morning? Isn’t it easier to automate everything?

Yes and no. It depends on how you automate.

Technology can enable you to personalize responses by using filters and analytics to your advantage. If you're intentional about it, you can customize your messages to multiple candidates, without spending hours of your precious time.

How to fix it

Start with these simple communication rules, then optimize as you go.

  • Always acknowledge and application with a simple thank you.
  • Write to every candidate to inform them of what to expect when they move from one step to the next.
  • If someone wasn't a fit this time, let them know you'll keep their resume on record for future roles.

You'd be surprised how sometimes even the most unlikely candidate can one day become your biggest hiring win.

Are your candidate leads ice cold?

The biggest mistake talent pros make is getting too caught up in the order of the day.

By focusing only on the immediate vacancies to fill, you miss out on a wealth of candidates that can come in fast and ready in the future. Short-term thinking might work for generalist roles. But definitely not in healthcare when you're recruiting for specialists every time.

Here, it pays to play the long game.

How to fix it

  • Make sure every candidate profile you browse finds its way into your database (the right ATS will grab and import this info for you in a click).
  • Target both passive and active job seekers (just because someone isn’t looking for a job today, doesn’t mean their circumstances won’t change).
  • Create talent profiles and pools, then target these candidates with customized communication (again, the less robotic the better).

Ready to revamp your hiring process?

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