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Mistakes to Avoid When Recruiting Healthcare Talent

Three doctors looking over paperwork

Healthcare recruiting is more challenging right now than perhaps any other time in modern history. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the healthcare field is expected to grow by 14% by 2028, adding some 1.9 million jobs. That is the biggest growth of any occupational group, therefore, competition is fierce among employers looking to fill positions from nurses to medical billing experts. 

In this tough market for employers, there is no room for error when creating your healthcare recruitment strategy.

Top Eight Healthcare Recruiting Mistakes to Watch Out For

1. Forcing a fit

It is hard enough these days to attract candidates to enter your healthcare hiring funnel; if they make it through to the interview stage, it is easy to start getting tunnel vision as you focus on making the hire at all costs, but beware of forcing a fit where there isn’t one. 

In economics, this is what’s known as the sunk cost fallacy. It describes the phenomenon of continuing a behavior you know is not in your best interest simply because of the time, money, and resources you have already invested in the process. If you have ever stuffed yourself to the point of a stomachache to “get your money’s worth” at an all-you-can-eat buffet, you have experienced the sunk cost fallacy firsthand. 

The problem with the sunk cost fallacy is that the losses will only continue to get bigger the longer you pursue the behavior (even though the brain has trouble accepting this logic). In hiring, this could translate to a longer time to productivity, lower employee satisfaction rates, higher turnover, and ultimately, greater hiring costs as you are forced to rehire after a bad fit. 

Do not overlook skills that are lacking or your gut telling you the culture fit is off just because a candidate has “made it this far.” Even though it may mean a longer upfront time to hire, taking the time to find the right match will ultimately cost you less and be more beneficial to your organization in the long run.

2. Not writing compelling job descriptions

When you are focused on growing an all-star team, writing custom job descriptions eats up precious time that could be spent building relationships with great candidates. Yet, the quality of your job listing has a direct bearing on the quality of candidates you will attract. Posting the same canned job description every time you need to hire makes it look like you do not place much value on how your employer brand is perceived. 

Engage more top-tier candidates by writing more compelling job descriptions. Use a tone and language that is consistent with your company culture. Make a distinction between the qualifications that are must-haves and those that are preferred. Use active rather than passive voice. 

Use outcome-based descriptions to convey what the right candidate looks like. For example, for a pharmacy technician, instead of just listing ‘communicates medication information,’ you might say ‘helps patients achieve better health by providing a more thorough understanding of their medications.’ Highlight the benefits of joining your organization and the opportunities, like advancement and other benefits, the role will present. 

While you do not need to recreate every single job description from scratch, take the time to update your pre-written template with a few customizations specific to the role. This demonstrates your investment in making a positive first impression and strengthens your employer brand. 

3. Being too pushy 

Recruiters often get a bad rap and one of the biggest complaints among candidates is that they are too pushy. 

When you are excited about a candidate, your first instinct might be to pursue them aggressively.  You mean well and your intent is in the right place, but this can be a major turnoff to top candidates, some of whom are likely being pursued by a number of companies all at once. When you come on too strong, you risk giving the impression that the company is desperate to hire, or worse, that you are desperate for the commission that comes with a successful placement. 

Avoid alienating candidates by giving the relationship space to grow organically and giving the candidate time to respond on their own terms. Avoid calling them at work. For obvious reasons, most candidates want to be discreet about the fact that they are looking for a new role. Contacting them when they are on the clock at their current job is the fastest way to spook them. 

4. Moving too slowly/going incommunicado

Another top candidate complaint about recruiters? They go radio silent. The other side of the coin from being too aggressive is not being communicative enough. The best healthcare talent gets snatched up quickly. The last thing you want is to lose one of your top choices because they took another offer when they did not hear from you for a while. 

Even if your hiring funnel moves slowly, avoid leaving candidates in the dark about where things stand. Check-in regularly to update them on the process and let them know that they are still in the running. Remember, this does not always have to be done via phone call; busy healthcare candidates are appreciative when you use more convenient channels like email and text messaging. If a candidate has been eliminated from the running, by all means, give them the courtesy of informing them. 

5. Overlooking internal candidates 

Digital platforms like LinkedIn make it easier than ever to source candidates. With a few keystrokes, you can access a laundry list of healthcare professionals whose resumes match the skills you are seeking. The problem is most of these candidates are passive, so you will have to jump through more hoops to convince them to consider your company and apply for your open position. 

A big mistake in many healthcare recruitment strategies is overlooking internal candidates. These candidates are not only easier and faster to hire, but they are already acclimated to the company’s culture and workflows, which translates to a shortened time to productivity. External hiring costs an average of 1.7 times more than internal hiring and comes with a longer onboarding period. Do not let your efforts to attract new candidates block your vision for great candidates who are right under your nose.

6. Being inflexible

The healthcare industry is notorious for irregular hours. Extended shifts and overtime are the norm rather than the exception, especially in areas where there is a critical staffing shortage, like nursing. One analysis found that 40% of nursing shifts exceeded 12 hours. This nonstandard work environment means flexibility is not optional, but necessary in healthcare recruiting. 

It is impractical to expect top healthcare talent to work within the confines of your 9-to-5 office life. Accommodate candidates’ scheduling needs by making yourself available for screenings and check-ins outside of normal business hours, like early in the mornings, evenings, and weekends. Offer flexibility in your interview scheduling, with the understanding that candidates in the medical field often cannot help if they are running late (like when the waiting room is overflowing or patient appointments run long). 

7. Failing to grasp candidates’ skill sets

All too often, the rush to snatch up top talent means a recruiter goes into the screening process without a clear understanding of what the role actually entails. This will become apparent once you begin talking with a candidate and will quickly lose their trust. Think about it—how can they confidently put their next career move in the hands of a person who does not even grasp what they do? 

To avoid this, allocate enough time to gain a clear understanding of both the critical skills the job requires and what the line items on a candidate’s resume actually mean. Be prepared to discuss what you are looking for in layman’s terms so you can have productive conversations with candidates rather than wasting their time. 

8. Not using a qualified healthcare recruiting firm

Planning and executing a successful healthcare recruitment strategy is a full-time job on its own. Many of the mistakes we have covered above can be avoided by working with a qualified healthcare recruiting firm. 

Hiring a healthcare recruiting firm can help you hire faster and save you money on staffing in the long run. Healthcare headhunters know the nuances of staffing in this field and can have more meaningful conversations with candidates about their skills and experience. This will in turn yield a greater number of successful hires. Furthermore, they can help you better project your future staffing needs and build an efficient hiring funnel that makes qualified talent readily available at all times. 

Attract Stronger Healthcare Candidates with 4 Corner Resources

4 Corner Resources specializes in sourcing and hiring for healthcare positions like medical billers, coders, reimbursement specialists, and pharmacists. Whether you are looking to onboard a full-time professional or simply cover short-term staffing gaps, we can help you identify the right talent and shorten your hiring timeline. 

Our expansive candidate network, proven industry expertise and proprietary recruitment methodologies will make it easier and faster for your organization to fill high-value healthcare roles so you can spend more time on what really matters: serving patients. Get started by speaking to one of our recruiting experts now.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn