HR Trends

82 articles

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