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It's So Not 1973 in the HR Department

February 15

I'm personally fatigued at the thought of having to comprehend one more new way to stay connected. My head swims with too much information about the various ways a potential employee may be revealed. New applications pop up every day, spawned by some whip smart kid, and before I know it, it's all the rage and pushing for me to embrace it. If I don't, I risk forever being left behind.

I "Facebook." I "Tweet" with Shaq. Google is my constant companion. I understand that you need to be on the first page of a search result. I do everything on-line from paying my bills to ordering the dress I wore to my son's wedding. Texting is my favorite way of communicating. Most people grasp and "get" the Internet like I do, but do we "get" it when it comes to staffing our healthcare delivery systems?

I regularly meet with clients and today's recruiter hasn't changed in the last 30 years. They may be a little better at using the computer, but essentially they read job applications—however they come in—and they push them out to the hiring managers. On-line applications are nothing more than the same paper application we've been using since the 1970s.

To truly take advantage of all the new ways of communicating, healthcare recruitment must take a long hard look at how they function. Do you really need that four-page application upfront or will a mini-application be enough to start? How soon do you respond to a candidate who has embraced the speed of technology? The same two weeks it took 30 years ago when candidates entered via snail mail?

What do you have to do to be able to respond to a candidate within an hour of them applying? Did you respond mentally "it's impossible?" It's only impossible if you cannot see the potential of doing things differently. Non-healthcare recruitment functions have been doing it for the past 15 years; they looked at technology and decided they needed someone to screen the applications at the same speed being used by the candidates. MGM in Las Vegas hires 10,000 individuals each year in a paperless world and candidates don't wait two weeks to receive a call or an e-mail.

Progressive recruitment teams know that every day a position stays open it is costing the organization money and they built a case for a person to sit in front of the computer and monitor the in-coming applications. They found it unacceptable to tolerate excuses such as "I was at a job fair so I couldn't get back to anyone...I was in a Safety Committee meeting...I was running a report...I was planning the employee appreciation picnic."

Recruiters need to recruit and they need to do it by utilizing the most streamlined functions that allow the potential employees to be identified, screened, interviewed and on-boarded. Systems change in 30 years and the recruitment function needs to reinvent themselves or all the technology in the world is nothing more than another way to enter the system.

Reinventing the HR process is vital to stay competitive, but on top of that, it is also necessary that recruiters know that if they are utilizing social networking and Internet search as ways to identify great candidates, they need to also change the way they interface with the candidate.

Candidates who apply for a job with the "please pick me" mentality are very different than candidates who enter the system with the "I may be interested if the offer is right" mentality.

Until recently I used the word "scrape" when I finished making cake batter or fell off my bike—now I use it routinely when describing job postings. Are the ads being "scraped"—not I "scraped" my knee. "Aggregators" is another new and over used word for me. Scraping and aggregating now mean the candidates are being sent to your career web site facilitated by another completely different organization wielding another set of tools and technology.

I actually remember when we placed ads in Sunday newspapers and waited for the candidates to come in via mail and in person. And come in they did. Fat stacks of envelopes and resumes were everywhere. Faxes caught on and candidates had one more way to connect. There was never enough time.

The Internet changed our lives. We could include a web address in the advertisement and we started getting a few e-mails. We began developing career sites on the web and the electronic application was going to remove the stacks of paper - but it hasn't. And, it's not that the ability to change the way we manage candidate flow is not available, it is our inability to forget how we recruited in 1973. The web is for so many healthcare recruiting functions just another way to enter the system. Once in the system, are we still doing business as usual?

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