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Tried These 3 Nurse Recruiting Tactics?

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   May 15, 2018

To recruit optimal candidates and make the job application process more efficient, Children's Mercy launched a reverse recruitment initiative that has yielded positive results.

As strange as it sounds, healthcare recruiters have a lot in common with fishermen. They're always after that perfect catch, and "the one that got away" weighs heavy on their minds. 

"I often get asked, 'What keeps you up at night?' and what I always used to say was that the person I need tomorrow came to my website today," says Molly Weaver, director of talent acquisition for Kansas City, Missouri–based Children's Mercy. 

For example, a neurology nurse practitioner might have visited the Children's Mercy website only to leave after not seeing any job openings. It's possible that an opening might appear at a later date, Weaver points out.

However, Weaver would have no way of knowing that a potential candidate had visited the site, and so she would have no way of following up with the person once the position became available.  

"I think too often, [as a job seeker] you don't see what you want and you move on, and I never knew you were there," she says.

So Weaver and her team reviewed their recruitment tools and decided to use a reverse recruiting method to better match candidates with hospital positions.  

To address the fact that talented applicants were potentially slipping away, they created Introduce Yourself, an innovative, video employment application process that Weaver says, "reverses the job search."  

The group's creative thinking has paid off: The program has helped match candidates with open positions, and it's made the hiring process more efficient. Here's how Children's Mercy found success.

Step 1: Address recruitment problems

In addition to not knowing what candidates had been on the site, Weaver says there were a few other issues that spurred the creation of Introduce Yourself.  

"I had around a 40% drop-out rate of people starting our application and not finishing it," she says. "I can't afford to let 40% of my candidate flow just keep leaving."

Weaver attributes this to the lengthy job application. "It's long and painful and it asks for way too much information. We need your Social Security number, we need all sorts of other things, because eventually we need to run a background check. But I don't need that up front," she says. "Yet I didn't have a way, like a phased application, where I just get the basics up front and ask for more later."

Weaver also suspected that because of "jargony" job titles such as "patient access representative"—a person who checks in patients—candidates did not realize which positions they were qualified for.  

"[Recruiters] know what's the right fit, and yet we expect our candidates to blindly figure that out on their own. [Candidates] don't know the organization, and they don't know what these jobs really are based on our job descriptions," she says. 

 Step 2: Simplify your application process 

In October 2015, Children's Mercy went live with Introduce Yourself. At the top of the organization's Careers webpage is a section where candidates can select one of three options:

>          Clinical

>          Non-clinical

>          Rehire

After clicking on the appropriate link, candidates are taken to a landing page where they create an account and upload their resume. They are then asked two simple questions:

1. Tell us about your background.

2. Tell us what you'd like to do for Children's Mercy.

Candidates record a brief video answering these questions. And that's it.

Each day, two recruiters (Children's has 10 on staff) cull through the video submissions and forward each submission to the recruiter with a position suitable for that particular candidate. For example, if a nurse submits a video, it will be sent to the nurse recruiter. Someone interested in working in the cafeteria will be passed on to the recruiter hiring for food services. 

Weaver says candidates usually hear back from a recruiter within one to two days and are told one of the following responses: "'Here's a job we think you're a great fit for; apply for this job today;' or 'Can we keep you in mind and call you when we do have something?'" she says. 

On rare occasions, the response is "no" in cases where candidates do not have the correct experience or background for a position at Children's Mercy. "That doesn't happen very much in a hospital system the size of ours, but every once in a while we'll get something that we just don't ever hire for," Weaver says. 

Candidates then either go through a second video interview or are connected directly with a hiring manager for an on-site interview. 

"That's way different than throwing your [resume] into the black hole of applicant tracking systems," says Weaver. "Applicants know that [recruiters] are going to be looking for it." 

Step 3: Match candidates with the right job 

Introduce Yourself is not just a video interview process; it's a way for recruiters—who know what jobs are opening—to match a candidate's skills and personality to a specific position. 

"In my mind, what Introduce Yourself does is it gets the talent to the right opportunity instead of making them figure it out on their own," says Weaver.

"Sometimes they don't apply to the right job," she explains.

In fact, the first hire made through the Introduce Yourself program had previously applied to work at Children's Mercy multiple times, but not for the position she eventually secured.

"She never once applied for an access rep, but when she did Introduce Yourself, she said, 'I really want to be the person that checks people in,' "Weaver says. "She has a beautiful smile and really warm personality, and the minute we saw her video we said, 'She's an access rep.' She was hired in two weeks." 

Two promotions later, that employee is now back in school to become a nurse.

"It's about seeing the person instead of the paper," Weaver says of the program. "I really believe that that's been a big shift in the way our recruiters talk. Now it's always about, 'Hey, did you see so-and-so's video today? We've got to find a place for her or him in the organization. Does anybody have anything for him?' It has kind of reversed our thinking, if you will."


Annually, Children's Mercy hires about 1,600 employees. The traditional application process is still available and in use, but Weaver says about 10% of hires go through the Introduce Yourself program. That translates to about 10–15 employees a month.

In February 2017, 16 employees were hired through the program. 

"Some of those people completed their video interviewing six months ago. One was a year ago. So sometimes it's not an immediate fix for the candidate," she says. "But they're getting communication [that applies] specifically to them. It's not just, 'We got your application,' it's, 'Here's where we think you fit.' "

Weaver notes that, though she's not sure why, employees hired through Introduce Yourself are more diverse than those hired through the traditional method. 

"It's been running about 20% higher in the diversity rank than my general hires," she says. "I would be loath to say I knew the explanation other than to say it's about the person and you get to see them and their personality. It's not about what they show up as on paper."

Weaver says the program has also been successful in helping recruiters match candidates with tough-to-fill positions.

"We have filled some hard-to-fill stuff with people that we would have probably never known were on our website because they would have left and gone somewhere else," she says. 

Additionally, time to fill positions is usually shortened with Introduce Yourself.

"They tend to go through the process faster because we've already seen them and heard them," Weaver says, "and we send those Introduce Yourself videos out to our hiring


Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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