In today's competitive job market, post acute providers and agencies are struggling to find candidates.
Most of the healthcare sector is struggling to find candidates to fill empty roles, with post-acute care being the most affected.
Agencies and providers already struggling financially are stretching their resources to attract talent in a competitive market.
HealthLeaders spoke with Eric Holwell, senior vice president of strategy at Bayard Advertising, who has worked with health organizations to help them refine the way they advertise their roles, on best practices, mistakes, and the art of a composing a job description.
This transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
HealthLeaders: What is the first thing you do when healthcare organizations come to you for help with recruitment?
Eric Holwell: The first thing we do is audit what they're currently doing. When you do an audit, it's about getting to know the company or organization, and getting to know what works for them and then what they're missing—a variety of things that help us understand where we can come in and fill the gaps. We will then put together a brief or recommendation of what we would do, looking at a variety of different marketing channels that are designed to target specific audiences that would meet their talent needs.
HL: What are some common mistakes that you see?
Holwell: One is that they don't have a diversified marketing strategy. In [advertising] we call it a talent attraction strategy, so they're not nearly diversified enough when it comes to attracting talent. A lot of the time, organizations are betting on only two or three channels or vendors to help them recruit nurses. They might be using some of the big usual suspects [ie. LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.], but they're missing out on a lot of niche sites, a lot of social recruiting strategies, a lot of even recruitment tactics you can do through Google and all of their products.
They don't have a media strategy that's diversified in a way that can target a very large audience, and then they have a poor user experience for candidates.
HL: Would that include the application process?
Holwell: A user experience is a big part of the application process. If you're spending money to attract talent, which means it's some type of media that you've invested in to advertise that you have open positions, that candidate is going to click on that ad. They're then going to be directed to some type of page—job description, career homepage—and you want the candidate to have a very intuitive experience.
They shouldn't have to guess what they're there to do, they shouldn't have to guess what's next, they shouldn't have to search for the content that is relevant for [the position they're applying for]. You want them to be able to get to what you want them to do easily and quickly. Anything outside of that creates drop-off.
HL: How does the composition of a job posting play into this? What are some best practices?
Holwell: The job posting is important because it is the only content that the candidate will see, especially for an active job seeker. If the job description meets their expectations and they feel they're qualified for that position, they'll apply for that job.
It will also be the one place that the candidate gets to experience the employer’s value proposition, get information about the company, and understand the responsibilities and qualifications of the job, so you don't want it too long. It needs to be informative, so you don’t want it too short because you don’t want unqualified candidates applying.
I would say there are three things that should be in every job description: one would be the promise that you are making to a candidate—that's your value proposition. There should also be a very clear, but concise, description of the responsibilities and then the qualifications. [Third,] if you are an organization where your roles require long hours or very specific certifications, it should be very clear to candidates who are not qualified if they don't meet those criteria, or if they don't agree with the kind of responsibilities that they're going to take on.
HL: How are post-acute providers having to navigate how they advertise roles?
Holwell: There are some internal factors here and the biggest is pay. In the last two to three years, we've seen an increase in pay [in healthcare careers], and a lot of underpaid employees. One thing every organization is going to have to do is look at whether their compensation is competitive and if it's not, they're going to continue to have a very hard time recruiting, no matter what they do from a creative standpoint. That's a tough pill to swallow for organizations that are operating on tough margins already. If you do offer competitive pay it should be highly advertised. It should be highly advertised if you've raised your pay rates or offer bonuses or better benefits.
In addition to that is the workplace. People want to work with innovative companies, and they want to work in an environment they feel is safe and welcoming and inclusive, so company culture is going to be a big part of that. If your company culture is missing [that], that's another internal thing to do–listening to employees to create a more inclusive and encouraging work environment for all employees. Home health is a little tricky because you're on the road, but the support they get from their colleagues is important.
HL: Will healthcare’s workforce be able accommodate the influx of older adults that may need these services by 2030?
Holwell: It's not an organizational problem, it's an industry problem. Collectively, I think the industry and the leaders are going to have to start thinking of ways to get younger people more interested in a healthcare path. That's going to be the best way to solve problems that are 10, 15, 20 years down the road.
Marketing strategies are just short-term solutions. You have to get people to start thinking about healthcare as an interesting and exciting career path. That means getting in front of people in high school and college.
“One thing every organization is going to have to do is look at whether their compensation is competitive and if it's not, they're going to continue to have a very hard time recruiting, no matter what they do from a creative standpoint.”
Eric Holwell, senior vice president of strategy, Bayard Advertising
Many healthcare organizations lack a diversified marketing strategy to target a large audience.
The ease of a candidate's user experience when applying for a role can impact whether they complete their application.
Three things that should be in every job description are the employer value proposition, the responsibilities of the role, and a list of any certifications the candidate should have.