HR Trends

80 articles

Five Fed agencies among 15 most desirable employers, say U.S. undergrads

A newly issued report about attitudes toward Federal employment among American undergraduate students brings some very good news for anyone in the business of government recruiting. The report was issued by the Washington-based Partnership for Public Service ( of TMP Government’s regular allies in initiatives to encourage public sector employment—and Universum (, a global employer branding company. Great Expectations: What Students Want and How Federal Agencies Can Deliver It summarizes results from a survey of 30,000 American students. Among its most encouraging findings: students view five agencies—the State Department, Peace Corps, NASA, CIA, and FBI—nearly as favorably as they view Google, Walt Disney, and Apple Computer, the top three in their rankings. But wait…there’s more. Government and public service are ranked by the survey population as the most ideal “industry” for a first job, beating out health care, education, marketing/advertising, and 42 other industry categories. For most of our readers I’d venture that this is a significant discovery. But take a moment to look beyond the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives you. Doesn’t this finding point to a deeper population of potential recruits than many agencies imagine are out there? Certainly this research can support a case for scaling up outreach to so-called “passive” targets in America’s colleges and universities. Today many agencies are uncomfortable with this approach, which smacks of direct marketing. If you’re among this number, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. The survey supplies equally encouraging info when it turns to the career attributes and rewards that American students value most. The top three: work/life balance, job security, and the conviction that you are serving “a greater good”. Again the news for government agencies couldn’t be better. These are authentic themes of value for government recruiting. For the vast majority of agencies, there’s no need to exaggerate the value proposition here. Play these cards freely and honestly; at the least they comprise an evocative thematic backdrop for the specific points of value that make up your agency’s brand. Now for the bad news. There are two sour notes in the survey findings: the relative lack of enthusiasm among science and technology undergrads for government employment, and, among all respondents, starting salary expectations that are unreasonably high. I’ll discuss these results in a subsequent post.

Going To The Dog

Several days ago, by beloved Bagel-dog (Beagle/Basset Hound mix) Satchi, celebrated her 11th birthday (approx. 60-65 in human years according to my vet). And, as these things go, she's due for a teeth cleaning. For the unitiated, the cost of said procedure is $70-$350, mostly due to administration of anesthesia. Fortunately, I have pet insurance, which according to a 2008 ABC News report, is becoming increasing popular as an employee benefit. Consider the Facts* * There are approximately 74.8 million owned dogs in the United States; * Thirty-nine percent (39%) of U.S. households own at least one dog; * Most owners (63 percent) own one dog; * Twenty-five percent (25%) of owners own two dogs; * Twelve percent (12%) of owners own three or more dogs(YIKES!); * On average, dog owners spend $219 on veterinary well-care visits annually.* Taking note of these trends and the publicity that several major U.S. companies are receiving, job search agent SimplyHired has partnered with Dogster to connect pro-pooch companies with the canine community. Boasting just under 500,000 unique visitors who spend an average of 9 minutes per day on their site, Dogster also offers a variety of online advertising options, including the Dog Blog, pet friendly lodging pages, newsletters, RSS, and even cross-promotion with network TV (as in this past summer's "Greatest American Dog" on CBS). Knowing that many employers are seeking ways in which to differentiate themselves, those who do offer pet "bennies" have a tremendous opportunity to connect with both passive and active candidates using both of these (and similar) new media elements that go beyond the ordinary and actually speak to their unique employee value propostion. Now that's something to bark about. SG Dog.png View source data here.

Please, no, not Job boards AGAIN …

The fact that my 2 first posts here are about job boards is pure chance, nothing related with a secret passion of mine (although working for one a while ago will probably have had an influence). Over the last few years, one can tell job boards have not always been really "creative & innovative", probably because they didn't need to be, as they were still reaping the rewards from the breakthrough they initiated in the late 90's when they first appeared (compared to "traditional recruitment"). Those days, the landscape gets more and more challenging, their initial value proposition (we have 100 times more offers than anyone else (read "newspapers") and you can sort them to find your match) is no longer really valid as vertical search engines such as Indeed or Simply Hired now have more jobs and arguably better search (for french vertical search go to wanajob or moovement). And now what ?

Hi (& a quick piece of news)

Ok, to everything there is a first ... and here is mine on TMP blogs ... Before we start, please excuse me for not being a native english speaker (ok, ok, I know, this is more about writing, but still ... this might cause a massive amount of typos & some incorrect grammar; I tend to keep my writing short though). To all of you readers, i apologize in advance. Well, this had to be done :) Just a quick one for today : you might (assuming you speak some french) want to give an eye on Monster's first ever (or so i think) virtual job fair. Image 7.png 29 IT companies, some really good ideas in there (live video chat ...), some really nice execution (especially the "find your fit" part called "faire le test d'affinité").

Should Recruiters Be Paid Like Sales People?

Let’s not kid ourselves. We aren’t recruiters in the historical sense anymore. Today’s successful healthcare recruiters are sales people. Long gone are the times when an advertisement would go into the Sunday classifieds, qualified people would respond, the recruiter would select the top candidates and then get the best individual through the hiring process. So, to that point, Jason Sanders, Associate Director of Applicant Services at Florida Hospital, Orlando writes to ask if today’s recruiters should be given pay, based in part, on incentives and the number of hires they make as opposed to a straight traditional salary. The short answer is yes, but only if you have enough open positions, applicants, the numbers to measure success and a system of accountability for hiring managers. Recruiters who receive performance based pay are generally much more productive than those paid a salary. Salaried recruiters are not necessarily slackers, but they tend to get pulled in different directions as opposed to recruiters who are being paid to stay focused on making the hire. When considering paying incentives based on the number (and quality) of hires, you need to remember: • The recruiter cannot be the final decision maker on the hire. The hiring managers must make that call and the hiring managers must have a system where they are responsive to the needs of the recruiter attempting to make the sale. There are many reasons for this past the obvious, including the fact that the recruiter stays on top of the good candidates, is driven to ferret out top talent and to be exceptionally time sensitive. • Hiring managers must be accountable and realistic about the quality and experience of today’s applicants and the immediacy needed to “make the sale.” There should be a program in place where on the spot interviews can always be granted. If the hiring manager is not able to interview on the spot then he/she needs someone—equipped with the authority to make the decision—that can. And then there should be back-ups to the back-ups for the interview. You cannot hold a recruiter accountable if a manager does not have time to interview. • Numbers are critical to individual situations. Based on national averages, RNs should be hired at a 3:1 ratio, allied health professionals on a 5:1 ratio and entry-level at 10:1. A sales recruiter must have enough applications coming in to make those ratios realistic. And, they must have enough open positions to make it worth the effort. For example, on average a nurse recruiter should make about 14 hires a month. So the base expectations for hires might be 14 and the recruiter would be paid on the hires over that number. But, asking a recruiter to make, say 14 Physical Therapist hires in a month is not realistic. You would need to mix in pharmacists and some respiratory and imaging professionals for that recruiter. Everything must be based on true numbers. Don’t make it too difficult or it becomes self-defeating. • How much to pay as an incentive? It depends. Many factors impact the amount including how much the base pay is, but lately about $300 a hire over the base of say 14 hires is a fair price. For that amount of incentive, the base pay should remain about the same as market band for a recruiter. The healthcare system is getting a great deal when you think about what it costs to keep a professional position open. Paying $300 a hire is much less than an eight hour shift differential, paying agency, travelers, overtime or PRN salaries. Not to mention the cost, if you need to reduce the number of treatments completed in your Rehabilitation Department because of lack of staff. • If you want to make sure new hires have someone to help them stay, pay the recruiter a bonus of $100 for every hire that stays a year. The new hire stays connected with the person who sold them the job and the recruiter stays connected with the people and the culture of the organization. And, knowing they are in line for $100 bonuses in upcoming months helps the recruiter stay as well, which is also a good thing. There are several very successful US healthcare providers who pay their recruiters like salespeople and they have an impressive return on investment. One seven-hospital system pays recruiters in excess of six figures and their average savings is around $9 million a year on agency—just for the RN hires. They haven’t had any turnover in the recruiter ranks for the past five years and that is a savings on a number of fronts. If you have a question related to healthcare recruiting you’d like me to answer on a future blog, send me an email at

Who Will Provide the Healthcare in Universal Healthcare?

No one has written to “Ask Greta” about today’s topic, but I’m compelled to ask the question myself. If we are successful in providing universal healthcare coverage for every man, woman and child in the US, who exactly will be the worker bees dispensing that healthcare? If the skilled workers don’t exist and the schools are churning out as many graduates as possible, where are they going to come from? It’s not that I am opposed to universal healthcare, just the opposite, but in reality I’m not sure we have a roadmap which takes us from just sounding good to reality. In my obsession over the 2008 presidential primaries, I have immersed myself in everything from the debates to news magazines, daily newspapers and countless hours in front of CNN. I know there are 47 million Americans without health insurance. I know the lack of universal healthcare is the face of the father who buys groceries as opposed to health insurance, the middle-aged American who has chest pains but does not seek medical care, babies who are born every day without adequate prenatal care and emergency rooms being used routinely as doctor’s offices. People without health insurance don’t take care of the basics. They simply do without and that leads to crisis, emergency care and even death. They don’t go to the dentist and they don’t go to the eye doctor. No one wants this, but beyond the question of how will we pay for this care, how will we provide it? Who should be asking the questions? Developing the plans? It doesn’t matter who eventually wins the White House, it is impossible for anyone—even in eight years—to solve the problem of not having enough employees to sustain adequate healthcare in this country unless serious measures are taken. As someone who lives this challenge every day, I don’t know how to open the channels just to staff what we need today, much less staff on a much larger scale. Congress is aware of the problem. They passed a bill which was designed to educate more Registered Nurses and then they just simply declined to fund the bill. It was meaningless. Loan forgiveness programs for healthcare providers are going the way of the big music stores. Educating science based professionals is expensive, but state-supported schools are being asked to take financial cuts because funds are being funneled elsewhere. Children are being left behind every day and they present to the Human Resource Department ill-prepared to work in a hospital setting. Healthcare providers are being asked to educate the employees as well as provide service to the masses while finding ways to drive money to the bottom line. There are few areas being asked to do more than the average healthcare HR Department. We hire more people each year from a smaller pool of candidates and we generally do it with fewer resources. I’m all for universal health care, but it would be irresponsible not to ask the presidential hopefuls to take the rhetoric one step further. It is impossible to mandate/legislate people who do not exist. As leaders in healthcare staffing are we doing everything we should to take that line of thought into reality? Are we the ones who should be asking the questions? And, demanding the answers? Our career health as well as the general health of the American public depends on it. If you have a question related to healthcare recruiting you’d like me to answer on a future blog, send me an email at

How Much is too Much For A Recruiter?

Most recruiters are used to the merry-go-round speeding up—each year we seem to hire more and more and the requisitions just keep coming in at an even faster speed. Nonetheless, that merry-go-round can only go so fast before it starts to fail. Steve Davis, Director of Human Resources at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire asked just how many open requisitions per recruiter is appropriate. I thought about the word appropriate for a minute and then thought I should just answer how many open requisitions can a recruiter really handle before they become actually less effective. There are many recruiters who juggle up to 150 open requisitions at any given time—and juggle is the operative word, because no one can really handle that many open positions. Ideally a recruiter is responsible for hiring for one or two of the healthcare job categories and not every type of position open in a certain unit or for a specific Vice President. Healthcare is broken down into seven categories—nursing, rehabilitation, allied health, professional, technicians, office and clerical and entry-level—and the most effective is if a recruiter is, say, only hiring nurses or rehabilitation professionals. Only very large systems have the luxury of having designated recruiters for each category, but almost all can minimally separate recruitment between the professional positions—nursing, rehabilitation, allied health and professional—from the entry-level—technicians, office and clerical and entry-level. The biggest difference between professional and entry-level is the number of applications one must touch to make a hire and how long it takes to interview and screen. Professionals—jobs requiring a four-year degree or specific health sciences licensure simply take longer than entry-level—those positions generally requiring a high school diploma or GED. Recruiters hiring for professional groups should have between 30 and 35 open positions at any one time and entry-level recruiters can handle from 60 to 65 open requisitions. More than that can make it near impossible for a recruiter to really focus on filling the positions with the best and right fit candidate. In fact, research shows that recruiters become less effective when managing too many open positions. It simply becomes too much if they are hiring ten new employees a week and getting in 12 new requisitions. Believing in making a difference can only go on for so long when you are not making any progress. When recruiters are juggling too many open positions, they do not have the time to penetrate the passive candidates which very well may be the best possible—and sometimes only—hires. They also cannot really screen candidates, but rather turn over that professional duty to a hiring manager, who is not normally trained or prepared to interview like a professional recruiter is trained. That leaves the door open for legal and other long-term ramifications. Diversity programs are rarely really pursued when an HR Department is acting like a big Post Office and just pushing out all applications to hiring managers—since making any hire takes precedence over hiring appropriately or diversely. Of course what do you do if you have hundreds of open positions and not enough recruiters to maintain that 35:1 or 65:1 ratio? Initially you can break up the open requisitions into groups that are more manageable. Focus on hiring the same type of positions such as physical therapists and physical therapy assistants or all ICU RNs. Whatever it take for a recruiter to become more focused on recruiting for actual positions is the first step. If a recruiter cannot tell you exactly, and immediately, what positions she/he is working on, they either have too many or they are not appropriately organized. Another immediate step is to make sure that somehow all on-line applications are being reviewed. When a recruiter becomes overwhelmed, one of the first things they do is neglect applicants they cannot put faces to—or the on-line candidates. It is fact that thousands of applications are never reviewed from healthcare systems’ on-line process. Hire a stay-at-home mom who is a professional recruiter and computer literate to go over the applications, sort and screen them and then send on the good ones to the recruiter. An hourly at-home person is a bargain compared to lost applications. It is also important to know factually why there are so many open positions. Is it due to growth and increased census or to poor retention? If it is due to growth, then justifying a new recruiter should be easy. But if it is due to poor retention, the answer is not in hiring more people, but in stemming the losses off the floor. It should not be the job of a good recruiter to keep filling positions if a hiring manager is running them out the door as quickly as a new body is delivered. If recruiters are working with more than 35:1 for professional positions or 65:1 for non-professional positions, look at how much is being spent on agency, travelers, PRN or overtime and it is generally easy to justify additional recruitment hands. Make sure, too that recruiters have the appropriate administrative support. A professional recruiter should not be doing clerical work if you are paying them to be a professional. It is all a delicate balance, but bottom line is to measure each recruiter and know they have the tools and the time to do their job adequately. No employee should be so overwhelmed all the time that they cannot focus, know exactly what they are working on and be accountable. If you have a question related to healthcare recruiting you’d like me to answer on a future blog, send me an email at

To Job Fair or Not to Job Fair?

Harold Achimon, Clinical Recruiter with Wilson N. Jones Medical Center in Sherman, TX wrote: “I attend a few job fairs each year if they are local, however, I feel I should be on the road more. What’s your take?” There are so many and such a variety of job fairs in healthcare, it is difficult to pick the ones you should attend and others you should pass up. But bottom line—attend the job fair if it results in cost-effective hires. Nothing should trump that question. Personally I don’t like any job fairs with the exception of ones held by an individual hospital or system—and generally those should be for entry-level employees only as opposed to professionals who can ostensibly get a job just about any where at any time. Let’s look at the good and bad of each types of job fair: 1) Local—these fairs are the best of the others if you are really sold on job fairs. These local fairs would be ones you would participate in along with other healthcare facilities. The people who attend are in your area so they are aware of your system and there is little or no relocation costs. Make sure the attendance results in hires and a dazzling list of e-mail addresses so you can follow up with some relationship marketing once the excitement of the moment passes. 2) National—of course it is always nice to “be out there”, but being out there on a national level should be reserved for those very large teaching and research facilities with a reasonably sized recruiting staff. These specialized and large facilities offer positions which may mean a promotion or a very specialized position. Since Harold hires for a 241-bed community-based facility serving North Texas and Southern Oklahoma, he probably couldn’t justify the cost of attending a national fair. 3) Trade Journal/Newspaper Sponsored—these fairs appear to be good but I have found that so many people turn out who are not even remotely qualified, that little real recruiting occurs. They are also generally expensive so be careful you are really getting valuable candidates or at least valuable information so you can follow up. 4) College/University—if the schools are compatible with your facility and you are open to making new graduate hires, then by all means attend. You should have a few local schools where you know the faculty and advisors and they should be the ones on your list. Most facilities have as many recent nursing grads they can take at one time so focus your attention on other graduating disciplines such as physical therapy, imaging and respiratory. 5) Virtual—more and more often we are seeing job fairs that are virtual. Second Life often holds job fairs on line and they have been very successful with hires for high-tech companies. Healthcare isn’t quite there, where candidates develop their own avatars and interview with other avatars, but soon you’ll never have to leave your office and let your avatars do the talking. Here are the questions I always ask when thinking about recommending or attending a job fair in healthcare: 1) Will attending the job fair result in hires? 2) Will the number of hires made justify the costs? National cost-per-hire for entry-level runs about $469 a hire so if you are attending a fair that costs $3,500 you should make at least 8 entry-level hires. If you hire only one RN for the $3,500 you are winning since the cost-per-hire for an RN is around $6,889. 3) What is the sponsoring group doing to drive in potential hires? There should be enough publicity to ensure a good turn out and there are formulas you can apply based on what candidate drivers the sponsor is using to support the event. 4) Can you justify the time out of the office? 5) Will I see quality prospects at the job fair or will they be the ones who can’t get a job? 6) Will I look desperate if I attend one more job fair? Holding a successful job fair on your own is not as easy as it seems and it is vital you cover your bases so you make the hires. Here are just a few things to consider: 1) Where to hold it? The facility or at a hotel? St. Louis Children’s Hospital once held a job fair that was so successful they couldn’t get the ambulances through the traffic and the cafeteria ran out of food to sell. Having the fair at the facility is always good if you can handle the volume, otherwise make it a real event at an off-site location. 2) What will be your candidate drivers? Remember to e-mail the people who have already applied to your facility and who were reasonably qualified. Remember direct mail. You can get lists for certain zip codes and household income. Newspaper should be included in the mix, but radio tends to deliver only about 2% of the attendees and radio is expensive. 3) When do you hold it? Unfortunately for recruiters Sunday afternoon is the best time. This is a family day so provide on-site child care while the applicants are being interviewed. 4) Who should be involved? Normally the recruitment staff can’t handle the volume so you’ll need to have the hiring managers on site to do immediate interviews and conditional hires based on license verification and reference checks. Also if testing or on-line applications are a must, then you must have the computers on hand. The only thing really to question is will I make enough hires to justify the costs and will they be good, quality hires? You wouldn’t place a $12,000 display ad in the New York Times for a single open Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) position because you should be able to hire them for, or under, the national average of $469. Consequently figure your outcome in hires verses the cost of the event. If you have a question related to healthcare recruiting you’d like me to answer on a future blog, send me an email at

Recruiting Should Not Be a Group Activity

Healthcare recruiting has traditionally been “oh so pleasant”. Recruiters, in a general geographic area, tend to know each other personally—they chat about the kids and vacations, go to lunch and even like to recruit as a group. For the life of me, I cannot think of another professional sector who recruits with the same congeniality as healthcare. Tambra Creel, a Nurse Recruiter for Johns Hopkins Bayview, a 700-bed academic medical center and part of the Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore, questions this policy. “My regional healthcare association insists on having job fairs each year. We are all there together and attendance has gotten low. Is there something other than a job fair we could do to attract candidates or should we be recruiting together at all?” Since Tambra works, for a single member of a large health care provider, she not only has competition from facilities outside the network, she also has competition among members of her own system. Psychologically it can’t be easy recruiting against the routinely named Best-Hospital-In-America, Johns Hopkins Hospital. But, in reality Tambra knows there are a lot of professionals happy to be at Bayview as opposed to the flagship facility. It is one thing to work with a candidate to make sure they have found the right fit for them professionally as long as it is within the System. After all, the members will be successful collectively, not to mention that it is the right thing to do for a candidate. But it is something all together to line up with your true competition and act like there isn’t a war for talent. First, job fairs have not been working in group settings for several years. They work, with small numbers but great prospects, when a system goes it alone. Even recent RN graduates don’t show up to group events because they have been recruited and had their tuition paid by institutions since their sophomore year. Experienced RNs don’t have to present to a group setting, requiring more time, because they can narrow their choice and apply anywhere. And, that applies to other healthcare professional groups. So my advice to Tambra is to let go of the group job fair and let go of the joint recruitment efforts with the competition. The next step is to look inwardly and make sure you have a marketing approach to recruiting as opposed to setting up a booth or placing an ad and waiting for qualified professionals to drop into your lap. The three to five year’ experienced RNs and health sciences professionals are young aggressive and hooked to their Personal Communication Devices (PCD). Since they are applying on-line—with their e-mails—begin the recruitment where they live; on their PCDs. Then develop a “relationship marketing” program that keeps them interested. Recent research shows that most healthcare delivery systems receive thousands of on-line applications which go un-reviewed. Not enough time; too many unqualified applications and simply overwhelming is what we hear from recruiters. So instead of devising a way to get those applications reviewed, we focus on doing what we have always done—things such as a job fair. Savvy recruiters know the value of those un-reviewed applications and they are hiring stay-at-home moms or students to review and sort the on-line applications allowing the recruiter to only proceed with the qualified candidates. They also save and bank the e-mail addresses for future projects such as e-mail blasts or virtual recruiting. And, they certainly are not willing to share those names and addresses with all their recruiting buddies around town! If you have a question related to healthcare recruiting you’d like me to answer on a future blog, send me an email at

How Much Can One Recruiter Take?

Healthcare Human Resource Departments have totally split personalities. On one hand they are nothing more than clerks taking orders and pushing applications to the managers and on the other hand they are responsible for 63% of the overall budget. How well they perform their profession spells whether or not the patients are satisfied, the length-of-stay is appropriate and even positive patient mortality. With that in mind, I am always surprised when a client tells me they have had to downsize their staff. An administrative assistant here, a recruiter there and soon, the HR Department of a healthcare delivery system is so thin, the hiring simply doesn’t get done. There isn’t enough time—or energy. Even if a recruiter is the most organized person in the world, the ability to stay focused, when working under that much pressure, will eventually fade. Recruiters, at some point, will start to welcome the relief of a meeting, the variety of leading a committee or attending a job fair. Applicants present and there isn’t anyone to greet them and they walk down the street. But, knowing the pressure, it is difficult to have the nerve to suggest a recruiter has not been as effective as she/he should be. After all, they haven’t been given the tools to be successful. Joan Hildebrandt, a Nurse Recruiter with the Greensboro, NC based Moses Cone Health System, wrote to ask what might be the appropriate number of recruiters and administrative staff for her 7,400 employee system. “What is the recommended ratio of recruiters to open positions and how much support staff is appropriate?” Joan asked along with the obvious “and how many recruiters should we have?” The open requisitions-to-recruiter is the easier question to answer since there are not as many variables, but there are broad generalities for both. Generally speaking a recruiter should not have more than 30-35 open positions if recruiting for professional positions—such as nursing, allied health, rehabilitation and anything requiring a minimum of a four-year-degree which is not health-science based. If a recruiter is responsible for the traditionally entry-level positions such as patient-care technicians, food service workers, technicians, office and clerical and anything requiring a high school education, they can manage an on-going work load of 60-65 positions. The difference comes in the number of candidates who present and the ability to interview more quickly. The ideal set-up for recruiting is not to have a recruiter do both types of recruiting—professional and entry-level—but if that isn’t possible, then a combination, staying with both groups parameters is recommended. For example, 15 open professional positions and 30 entry-level positions. The number of needed recruiters and the ensuing support staff must be based on a number of factors including how many applications come in, the type of HR Department (full-service or pretty much a big Post Office), the vacancy and turnover rates and even the geographic location. Generally speaking there should be 1.2 recruiters for every 1,000 employees and there should be .6 FTEs of administrative staff for every recruiter, not including the receptionist. The number of recruiters needed is directly impacted by the vacancy rate. If it is above 8% then the number of recruiters should increase to 1.6 FTEs per 1,000 employees. There is no need to increase the administrative support since their work can be ramped due to predictability. So, if Joan’s system has 7,400 employees, they should have 8.9 recruiters and 4.4 administrative FTEs if their vacancy is below crisis at 8%. If the vacancy rate is above 8% then Moses Cone should have 11.8 FTE s of recruiters along with the 4.4 administrative positions. Adequate staffing in the Human Resources Department is essential and the cost should be insignificant when compared to the cost of poor staffing in terms of patient outcomes and the cost of covering patient care hours with agency, travelers, PRN and overtime. If you have a question related to healthcare recruiting you’d like me to answer on a future blog, send me an email at