It's Time to Take a Page from Greta Garbo and Make the Transition

February 15

I have long admired Greta Garbo and not just because we share the same first name. Garbo was a tremendously popular silent film star when "The Jazz Singer" was released as the first "talking film" in 1927. Garbo put off making the transition as long as she could, not because she didn't have the voice, but because she wanted to be sure it was the right thing and that she was adequately prepared. History also tells us that she wasn't sure she could make the leap, but bottom line, she didn't have a choice.

The individuals who recruit and retain healthcare providers are facing a similar situation. We are rapidly going from a paper-based environment to a completely digital one and the impact will be no less dramatic than the move from silent films. While it will certainly affect the recruiters, it will also impact support staff, hiring managers and those involved with the budget.

Just as movie house musicians found themselves out of a job, because music was supplied on screen, there will be a shake up in the amount and type of staff required for recruiting in the digital world. Budget allocations will change because recruiting digitally is much less expensive than finding candidates through print. Today it costs about $750 for every print application as opposed to $32.50 for one coming through the internet. And since it costs a healthcare system money every day a position stays open, it is easy to see how the "right now" aspect of finding quality candidates through the web, is also fiscally responsible.

So while more people with the ability to manipulate the web will be needed to handle the increased number of applications, and the speed needed to appropriately recruit tech-savvy employees, the budget for finding those skilled workers will decrease allowing the resources to move to more staff with different skills. Nonetheless, it will be a dramatic shift for many current recruiters. Some will be able to make the transition and others, like the long forgotten stars with unfortunate voices, will be left behind.

It is the responsibility of today's Human Resource (HR) leaders to begin the difficult process of making the transition that will have very human consequences. For Baby Boomers it will be especially challenging because people 48 years of age and older will always be technology immigrants in a world that has changed dramatically. It won't be anyone's "fault", but with the ongoing examination of healthcare reform and the ensuing financial ramifications, it will not be possible, or fiscally responsible to hang on to "how we've always done it". Baby Boomers and everyone else will need to develop the skills to work all aspects of the internet.

Since 63% of all dollars in healthcare delivery are touched by salary, wage and benefits, recruitment and retention will not be a line item that can escape scrutiny. Recruit 20 additional Registered Nurses (RNs) and retain them for one year and you drive, on national average, $1.5 million to the bottom line.

Here is what healthcare delivery systems are doing to make the transition:

  • Web sites are being redesigned to communicate effectively with best-fit candidates and this includes more than stagnant words. Videos are being posted everywhere from a facility's website to YouTube, the second most popular search engine (Google is first) which speaks quickly and effectively, sells the facility and the practice environment. Communication is being pushed out from the website.
  • Videos are included on the hospital's web site that explains the recruitment process clearly. This keeps candidates informed about the time and process and minimizes calls to the HR Department seeking information about an application. Candidates will forgive just about any amount of time if they simply are informed.
  • Mini-applications are replacing the too-long and time consuming essentially paper-applications currently being used. This reduces time for both the applicant and the recruiter. Candidates don't drop off as quickly as with the more involved applications and recruiters can go through and sort them more easily.
  • To cut down on the overwhelming number of applications received when the barriers are lifted, online and job specific screening tools are being employed. They must work with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and be job description specific.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is employed so that when a candidate types/Googles, say, PT jobs in Texas, the facility is within the first ten listed in the organic search. Also appearing at the very top, or along the side, are the paid sections and when combined with SEO, these increase application response significantly.
  • Barriers are being removed so the ATS does not lock out the search engines from finding jobs. No one can assure you of always being in the top lines for searches, but if you know how to open your postings to search engine "spiders" and to eliminate the ATS blocks, you raise your chances of being found by job seekers dramatically.
  • Young, technology natives who are savvy sourcers are being added to the staff and charged with the responsibility of making sure every single application is viewed quickly and responded to appropriately. They do the screening, after the web-based online screening and they send only the most qualified candidates on to the recruiters.
  • The same whip smart tech-savvy employees maintain a database of names and individuals who have shown interest in employment at an institution. This allows them to keep individuals interested through social sites such as the hospital's Facebook page (yes, you need that too). This better utilizes the $32.50 spent getting them to apply and it allows for individuals who, perhaps lacking the experience the first time, find it at someone else's expense and then come back once they are fully prepared.
  • Social media is being fully embraced. Some facilities are hiring "Social Ambassadors" who are able to manage what is being said on the internet—everything from Facebook to LinkedIn and Twitter and then they also work the internet to seek perfect people for difficult-to-fill positions. This brings a new set of challenges because managing candidates who say "I'm interested if the position is right" is very different from the candidate who says "Choose me please."
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are being developed for hiring managers that require on-the-spot response to a hot candidate who may have been harvested off a social site or is simply a "hot candidate."
  • Recruiters, Sourcers, Social Ambassadors or anyone involved in the recruitment process knows it's all about time and getting back quickly. Twenty-four hours is now a long turnaround for candidates who are applying online. The Sourcers should be first responders, but they also need to remember they are selling and not pushing paper.

Just as we cannot imagine being limited to films with no sound, in the next few years, we will look back on the current recruitment processes as being just as archaic. Things are moving that fast and if you are touching recruitment and retention you can't wait any longer. Filling out applications that reflect paper ones developed in the 1960s, waiting on average two weeks to hear back from a recruiter (or not hearing at all), selecting from only those individuals who come to your website and say "Choose me. I want your job" will most certainly be things of the past.

Generation Y, or individuals who are aged 31 or younger, are the candidates you want and they only know "Googling" for information. If you aren't where they see you and you don't sell them through your website and you don't do it quickly, you will not be able to manage the recruitment process effectively and fiscally responsible. Remember Greta Garbo and take the leap, you really don't have a choice.

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