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What Message is Your Recruitment Web Page Sending?

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, February 25, 2009

It's an economic double-whammy: The recession is forcing some hospitals and health systems to cut back on recruitment campaigns—at the same time that demand for hard-to-fill positions such as nursing is growing. But there's a simple and inexpensive way to make your hospital or health system more attractive to candidates—and I'm amazed that more hospitals aren't taking advantage of it.

I knew that I wanted to write about hospital recruitment campaigns this week, so I took a tour of career Web pages at hospitals and health systems around the country. I looked at small community hospitals and large academic centers. Faith-based organizations, non-profits, and for-profits. Hospitals in big crowded markets, and hospitals in small communities. The variety of messages—some effective but many others quite off-putting—was amazing.

Your Web site's recruitment page is one of the first places prospective candidates will see when they're checking you out and deciding if they want to work for you. How can you make sure that your site is sending candidates the right message?

Make it easy. One home page I looked at had a miniscule and easy-to-miss link to the careers page. I had to look at the page from top to bottom three times before I found it. Another had a broken careers link. Think redundancy. There's no reason not to have more than one link to the careers page. You should have a link in the left-hand column, which is where most people look first and at the bottom of the page, another common place to find "about us" and "careers" links.

Make it welcoming. Another site I visited had scant information about what it's like to work at the organization—except for long and detailed "standards of performance" document with stern warnings about proper phone etiquette, attitude, and appearance. Not exactly a warm and welcoming first impression.

Make it personal. Another listed seven reasons to work for the hospital—all but one of which were written from the point of view of the hospital and why it's so great. Yes, you should tell candidates what your hospital is like. But like other forms of marketing, you must communicate the benefits to the customer and not just talk all about you.

Make it representative. Including pictures of employees on recruitment pages is a good idea. It breaks up text and shows some personality. Here's how to make that tactic backfire: One Website had pictures on its recruitment page that consisted entirely of older white men. That sends a clear message; one that I hope is not actually reflective of the workforce at that hospital.

Make current employees the stars. One of my favorite sites had video testimonials from real employees about the culture of teamwork and nurse-physician relationships. They had a fairly low production value, to be honest. But that also made them feel more real and unscripted.

Make it sticky. Another great site had an interactive healthcare trivia game with questions about nursing and healthcare history, for example. I played it three times and scored dismally low, proving that no one should ever hire me as a nurse. I spent more time on that site and the game hinted at the organization's personality and culture.

Make it mission-oriented. If you're proud of your faith-based mission or your standards of excellence, of course you should talk about them. But you can do so without talking about them only from your point of view. One site described its mission entirely from the point of view of its employees, explaining how they live those values. The word "you" appeared more frequently than the word "us" or "our." And that's a good thing.

Make it pretty. OK, maybe this isn't the most important recruitment page "do," but the sites that looked nice, that had visual extras like a well-made flash video, were much more pleasant to visit than those that simply had a plain-text page with instructions for submitting a resume. That also sends a message about your organization.

Take a look at your recruitment page. Does it reflect what it's like to work at your organization? Does it sell your hospital to potential recruits? Ask yourself: "If I had little or no information about our organization and had never seen this page before, would I want to work here?"

If you look and decide that yes, you're doing it right, I want to hear from you. Visit our MarketShare blog, where you'll find a post with some links to the great recruitment pages I found and share links to your great pages with us.


Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at gshaw@healthleadersmedia.com.

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