Healthcare Blog

The Healthcare Talent Crunch: Strategies for Recruiters in a Hypercompetitive Landscape

Lisa Wallace, Account Director

Following the Great Resignation and the wave of “quiet quitting,” businesses across every sector continue to find themselves grappling with unprecedented employee recruitment and retention challenges. The healthcare industry is no exception.

For healthcare recruiters, it’s not only about filling current positions; it’s about crafting the right strategy to build a steady pipeline of candidates to choose from when the need arises.

Fewer Employees; More Competition

Like many other industries, healthcare has seen a great exodus in the recent past, and some sources estimate that it has lost as much as 20% of its workforce.

The turnover rate for hospital-based healthcare workers is higher than for those in private practices. The 2023 NSI National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report found that the overall hospital turnover rate is 22.7%, while the RN-specific turnover rate is 22.5%.

31% of healthcare workers are planning to leave their current role in the next two to three years, according to a March report from analytics firm Elsevier Health.

Of the 31% of healthcare workers who were considering leaving their current role by 2024, 33% plan to stay in a similar role but change to another healthcare setting, 21% percent plan to retire and 13% plan to move to another job unrelated to healthcare.

So, hospital recruiters find themselves in a position with fewer employees and stiff competition from travel nursing, other hospitals—and other industries.

Recruiters Face Touch Challenges

Talent Shortages and Competition

Unfortunately, the persistent shortage of healthcare professionals extends into 2024, particularly in crucial roles. The competition among healthcare facilities to secure high-caliber talent is fierce, as multiple organizations vie for the same positions, making the task of attracting and retaining top talent in your market increasingly challenging.

Time to Fill

Today’s healthcare recruitment space is hypercompetitive, making it difficult for recruiters and sources to keep up. On average, healthcare recruiters have 61 open roles they are trying to fill at once. The average time to fill a position in healthcare is 49 days. By comparison, the average across industries in the United States is only 36 days. Every day that passes is precious time that could mean a top candidate is scooped up, requiring the process to begin again.

Workforce Well-Being and Burnout

Addressing the mental health and well-being of healthcare professionals continues to be critical, given the strains of healthcare post-pandemic and the ongoing high-pressure work environments.

Given these escalating challenges, the same old tactics won’t work anymore. Healthcare recruiters must step up their game.

Why Your Recruiting Efforts May Fall Flat

There are a few reasons healthcare recruiters struggle to attract strong talent in a timely manner: They haven’t differentiated themselves, their messaging isn’t compelling and they aren’t demonstrating authenticity.

Be Different

Highlight what sets your organization apart. Whether it’s flexible scheduling, outstanding benefits, growth opportunities or an appealing location, emphasize these unique aspects. Understanding your company’s real culture—not an idealized version—is crucial. Collaborate with stakeholders to uncover employees’ perceptions, likes and dislikes, shaping campaign materials that genuinely reflect your organization. Avoid trying to fit a round peg into a square hole—embrace authenticity to stand out.

Be Compelling

Have you ever read a job description for a hospital hire? Many read more like legal documents than enticing job opportunities. Recruitment messaging should be a dialogue, considering what both employers and employees seek. Identify desires and needs, tailoring communication for each segment. Instead of a generic template, create specific campaigns for each position. In today’s employee-centric market, recruiters must articulate benefits, be compelling and use conversational language to stand out.

Reputation Matters

In fact, according to Talent Now, 84% of job seekers consider a company’s reputation before deciding to apply for a job. This means your company’s reputation and what your current and former employees are saying about your company can make or break your ability to attract the best and brightest talent.

A strong employer reputation can also help to build brand recognition. Candidates are more likely to apply for a position with a company they can recognize and respect, increasing the number of qualified applicants for open positions. So, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with your recruitment content, both with visuals and messaging that aligns with your culture.

Stock photos work well for some situations, but they are terrible for your recruiting efforts. If you see enough ads using stock photography, you start to recognize the models in the photos—and nothing screams inauthenticity more than that.

Ensure your recruitment materials reflect the diversity within your organization, offering a genuine representation of your team. By showcasing a mix of individuals, potential applicants can identify with your brand and feel a sense of inclusivity.

Your people are your greatest asset, so involve them in the process and encourage them to share your content. Then, put them front and center and let them tell potential applicants why your organization is the best place to work.

In short, be genuine.

Supercharge Engagement with an Omnichannel Strategy

Relying solely on job boards falls short in attracting top talent, especially passive job seekers. To reach them effectively, employ omnichannel marketing—a blend of traditional and digital strategies with consistent messaging, visuals and materials across various online platforms, including:

  • Your website
  • Your mobile app
  • Social media
  • Email
  • SMS/text
  • Paid search
  • Display
  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • Print
  • Radio
  • Career events or job fairs
  • Public relations
Forge Your Own Path

Many healthcare organizations use the same tactics to attract talent, such as sign-on bonuses and slightly higher pay. According to the 2023 Work Institute Retention Report, 30% of employees leave during the first 90 days on the job, which means you’re back to square one, starting recruitment all over again.

So, look at what your competitors are doing. Rather than doing the same, find out what they’re not doing—then pursue those strategies.

It will be your first step in attracting the right candidates for your workplace, ensuring they are a good fit and maintaining a stream of candidates down the road.

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