Perhaps the System is Broken

The news stories come at us from different directions but with the same message: jobs are hard to come by, and you better hang on. We are shown the middle-aged middle manager who has sent out over 150 resumes and online applications and hasn’t heard from anyone. The college graduate, swimming in debt, living with her parents and spending eight hours a day online, researching and applying, without much luck finding a position.

Research giant Gallup reports that 72% of Americans say it is a bad time to look for another job, yet 68% report that they want to change jobs as soon as the economy improves. In fact, most of the world is pessimistic about the job situation, with Greece the most pessimistic. Ninety-six percent of the Greeks interviewed say it’s a bad time to find new employment.

There is no question job creation is at a serious low, and because we are a truly global society, we are impacted by the economic crisis in Europe and the buying power of Asia-Pac. Competition for jobs is fierce, and it appears things aren’t going to seriously change soon, even with a presidential election looming.

But it might not be all economic doom and gloom driving the sad outcomes for the middle managers, the magnum cum laude college graduates, and others. It may very well be that the application process is broken, and we need to start the improvements today to be ready for tomorrow when things suddenly change.

Currently, recruiters struggle with an avalanche of online applications and have little or no way of reviewing the hundreds that flood in daily. Most online applications generate an automated response that essentially says it’s been received, but don’t call us, we’ll call you. That is more likely the reason people don’t hear anything, as opposed to simply being rejected on lack of merit time and time again.

For the most part, since over 50% of the workforce is now aged 34 years and younger, individuals who only know immediate response made the applications. “I’ve applied, I’m qualified, so why aren’t you calling me?” is what they are thinking, but in reality their application may or may not have been reviewed.  Perhaps for them everything is immediate, but online applying hasn’t, for the most part, caught up. The middle manager may hold on with the hope of hearing something, but the Generation Y group moves on quickly and confidently. 

Some employment verticals, such as retail, finance and technology, appear to be better at reviewing more applications than healthcare, but because healthcare continues to create hard-to-fill, skilled positions, they seem to be the most overwhelmed. No other sector has steadily created jobs month after month through the Great Recession and the ensuing weak recovery.

TMP partnered in June 2012 with the National Association of Healthcare Recruiters (NAHCR) and surveyed their membership about day-to-day activities for recruiters. Fifty-four percent said they were not frustrated at work, but only 51% said they had any way of pre-screening candidates. Apparently having to go through all applications without any technological assistance was either not frustrating, or they simply got to as many as they could and moved on. A whopping 84% confessed that no one routinely monitored whether applications had actually been reviewed.

Only 20% felt that their career web site was interesting and sold the opportunities well, while 40% said their career web site was cumbersome and frustrating. Some healthcare delivery systems admitted that they had not streamlined the application process for fear they would get even more applications.

Currently, healthcare recruiters have fewer open requisitions than in recent memory. Thirty percent reported they had between 10 and 30 openings, and an additional 42% had between 36 and 60. Only seven percent had more than 100. The challenging part of the new world order is that many of those open positions are very difficult to fill, and will continue to demand creative ways of finding qualified candidates along with a smooth and responsive career web site. Mid-levels, nurse managers and physical therapists continue to be the hardest to hire.

With low turnover and people postponing retirements because of the economy, now is the time to improve the application process, including a better career web site along with job descriptions that are compelling. 

There is pent-up frustration, with 68% planning to change jobs the minute the economy improves, so hiring systems need to be streamlined and functioning well to cope with the tsunami of resignations which ultimately will come. Retirements in healthcare will also play a big role in what recruiters will soon be facing. Eleven percent of the RN population is aged 60 and older, and many are mulling changing status by going part-time or PRN, or simply retiring altogether. This crop of Baby Boomer RNs tends to be the managers who sacrifice more for the job than the Generations X’ers and Y’ers who will be asked to fill their spots.

With lower-than-average requisitions and more people applying than needed, it’s a perfect time to improve the process and get ready for when the open requisitions skyrocket like they always do.

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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