We thought recruiting top talent in the healthcare industry was tough last year, it just got tougher in 2016! As an executive recruiter for the past 15 years, I’ve experienced firsthand the ebbs and flows of the talent market. Before the formal statistics are presented, search firms gain clues as to where the market is headed.   During this past quarter, on several occasions we’ve heard candidates say: ‘I’m also speaking to company X and company Y about a similar position and have an offer on the table.’   A great thing to hear for the economy and for the candidates, but makes it that much tougher to fill a position as a recruiter and an employer.


Check out the statistics: healthcare is among the most rapidly growing industries in this country. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that healthcare employers added 37,000 new jobs in March, with most of the increase occurring in ambulatory healthcare services (+27,000) and hospitals (+10,000). For the past year, healthcare employment has increased by 503,000 positions.


According to CareerBuilder‘s annual job forecast, U.S. employers remain confident in their hiring plans, with 36 percent of employers planning to add full-time, permanent employees in 2016. Nearly half of employers (47 percent) plan to hire temporary or contract workers.


Knowing we have a challenging recruitment year ahead, we can be prepared by implementing these five effective ways to recruit top talent in a candidate market:


  1. Qualify the candidate, but don’t assume anything. It’s the time to be very open-minded. If someone says they are hesitant about relocating, don’t close the door. Further discussion may lead to a change of mind.
  2. Broaden your scope. Here’s an example. Recruiting for a position in San Francisco recently, I focused my outreach efforts in California.   I assumed candidates outside of California would find “sticker shock” due to the cost of living in San Francisco and it would be a tough sell. I finally gave in after a declined offer from a California candidate (who had two other offers), and started outreach outside of California. I was still cautious. A Boston candidate surfaced who had friends in San Francisco! She was hired!
  3. Sell your company/position and anything else that helps the candidate see your role as their #1 choice. What is your company doing that is so special and how does this position fit into those plans? If you know what is important to candidates like schools, outdoor recreation (hiking trails, cycling, golfing, etc.), spouse’s employment possibilities, etc. you can assist by providing them as much information to help them make their decision.
  4. Make it a great interview experience. This is Recruiting 101, but it is even more important in this candidate market. Candidates are looking for a good match with the company, position and culture. However, they also remember how you made them feel—many times that is the tipping point if they have several other positions they are considering.   It starts at the reception desk. Were they welcomed and made to feel special, not “just another candidate applying for a job?”   In the senior leadership positions, candidates want to really get to know the person they will be working for.   A meal in an informal setting allows the interviewer and the candidate to get to know each other better. Be cognizant of who is part of the interview panel and encourage those individuals to be positive. Every position has its challenges, but it is not the time to be negative about the organization.
  5. Communicate and keep communicating with the candidate. This is probably one of the most critical things to keep in mind. No one likes to feel ignored. It may not always be feasible to give updates throughout the process; however, you can let candidates know that you haven’t forgotten about them. Additionally, during this time we can be checking to see what is going on with the candidates’ other opportunities. If they are getting close with an offer on another position, we may be able to help expedite things internally, so we don’t lose them as a candidate.


Certainly, my perspective comes from recruiting leaders in healthcare organizations. Some of what I’ve said may need to be tweaked when you are recruiting for other positions. However, there is no question we are seeing a candidate-driven market and if we want to effectively recruit top talent, we’re going to need to focus on the candidate’s priorities as well as our own!



Rosie Saenz is a Principal & Executive Recruiter at Morgan Consulting Resources, a healthcare executive search firm celebrating over 20 successful years in business.



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