Hire Nurses Faster by Building the Right Tech Stack
It is no secret that there is currently a nursing shortage and worse, the demand is continuing to increase with the aging population. New nurses can’t be found on trees, and burnout is real. It’s no secret that hospitals (and doctor’s offices, surgical centers, schools, retirement homes, and the list goes on) need to fill their open roles faster. With the odds stacked against them, and patient care at stake, what can healthcare organizations do to attract nurses to their opportunities and get them to actively apply and complete the application?
While there are many areas to consider when trying to bring more nurses into your organization, let’s focus on four: your employer brand, your job postings, your communication, and the tech that brings it all together.
Your Employment Brand
Look, any way you slice it, your employment brand matters. And not the one your HR team came up with, the real one, the one on the floor. And the nurses (and CNA, LPNs) know…they know because they have picked up shifts and they know because they are friends with the nurse on the GI floor, and they know because Glassdoor tells them. And you know.
The question really roots in what should your employment brand be, and how you get there. Is the gap between leadership, process, or employees?
Hospital floors in particular are tricky business. You have a lot of underpaid people working too hard to help (some ungrateful, others incredibly grateful) people. Many are in crisis, managing one of the most stressful times of their lives and dealing with hospitals, insurance companies, and family bureaucracy.
But in the dark corners of this already stressful situation, you have a different war going on: senior nurses, night and weekend shifts, good and bad doctors, patient ratios, travel nurses and the list goes on. Your full-time staff, knowing they are making less than your temporary staff. Forced schedules that ask nurses to flop between day and night shifts. Politics.
And in an emergency, a complete commitment to saving the patient.
The challenge all hospitals face is navigating these waters without losing nurses. The challenge is your toxic players, who your need for patient care, but who contribute to the toxicity that drives good nurses to other facilities. Or, said differently, can you fix your own challenges by providing a place for those disenfranchised nurses to land? Can you build a culture where nurses want to come, work and save lives?
And while you’re doing that, continue to attract top talent. To do that you need to first focus on the other parts of recruitment marketing: your job postings, your communication plan, and your tech stack.
Your job postings (well the content within them) matter
Messaging is important and for most healthcare organizations it means understanding what is important, what and how potential nurses might look for you, and your opportunities balanced without the sources of candidates utilizing the information in our job postings. The overall brand messaging must stem from the persona. What are your employees (nurses) looking for? Is it a face-paced teaching hospital where they serve the dual role of nurse and doctor educator and have the privilege of working with many patients with rare or complicated cases? Or are they looking to transition to a Monday through Friday 9 to 5 role at a doctor's office, where they become central to the patient’s lifelong care? Is it the environment, the hours, the shifts, the money that drives them, right now? This is the basis for your visual advertising, your career site, your Facebook and Glassdoor pages, and the about us of your job description. Getting your messaging right, as a reflection of who the business is, wants to be, and who the candidate is is incredibly important - but only if they find you. In the cart before horse game, HR and Talent teams spend a significant amount of time and energy to be prepared to convert nurse leads, without the proper plan in place to find and engage those nurses to begin with. Many companies have an overwhelming amount of content at the ready - with a stagnant plan on how to find those people to begin with. And that means advertising. For the vast majority, the most efficient route to candidates is job boards and job sites. And this is where your skill as a recruitment marketer matters. Most job boards and job sites are not designed with healthcare staff in mind. And the algorithms are built to optimize for search in general, not search for nurses.
How healthcare recruiting is unique
The algorithms lend two distinct challenges to healthcare organizations: 1. All nurses are not the same. There is a very big difference between a NICU nurse, ER nurse, a school nurse, and a geriatric nurse. And that is different from a nurse practitioner. Brass tacks, you need to make sure your job board partners appreciate your need to find candidates, and in terms that describe the kind of nurse position you are seeking are not optional.
2. All nurse jobs aren’t the same. Allied home health is not the same as surgical nursing is not the same as school nursing. All of them require an RN, but both experience and shifts are quite different. Asking a nurse job applicant to tell the difference is not reasonable, same as with the shift - all nurse roles do not work M-F 9-5, in fact, very few do. Make sure the shift information is clear to your candidates.
So what are the best practices to get the most applicants (increasing your match rate) while staying on the right side of the law (or the job boards)?
Do’s and don’ts of nursing-specific job title:
Add the type of role - 'nurse' is not enough, be specific about the role
Add the shift (days/nights/weekends)
Add the employment type (full-time, part-time, per diem)
Do not put the salary in the title
Do not put the sign-on bonus in the title
Do’s and Don’ts of the nurse-specific job posting:
Do include the salary range
Do provide the differential (if it applies)
Do include sign-on bonuses or other incentives
Do include other benefits
Do include opportunity or upward mobility
Talk about the candidate and their impact before your hospital/organization
Do’s and Don’ts of the application process:
Do use Easy Apply with all relevant screening questions
Do integrate the completed applications into your ATS
Do ask all your EEO and OFCCP questions upfront
Do ask for consent to text message
Do not ask for more than you need to qualify applicants and stay compliant
Do not ask WOTC questions in the application
Do not include assessments as part of the application process
Do’s and don’ts of contacting nurses:
Do text right away
Do allow them to self-schedule phone calls/ interviews
Do follow up quickly after each step
Do not wait days or weeks between steps
Do’s and don’ts of your tech stack:
Do make it easy for candidates to apply for your jobs
Do integrate your application into the Native Apply features of job boards and job sites
Do integrate the completed applications into your ATS
Do not add complexity at the front of your tech stack such as assessments, WOTC forms, background checks, or reference requests
In conclusion, healthcare organizations can hire nurses faster by building a recruitment marketing strategy supported by the right tech stack. A nursing shortage is not new, but with the demand continuing to increase, hospitals and other healthcare facilities need to fill open roles faster while ensuring quality patient care. Four areas require consideration: employer brand, job postings, communication, and technology that brings everything together. A healthcare facility's employment brand should reflect its culture, and job postings should include specific details about the role, shift, and employment type while excluding salary and sign-on bonuses in the title. The right recruitment marketing strategy can help healthcare organizations find and engage nurses and increase their match rate. Overall, attracting and retaining nurses should be a priority for healthcare organizations, and leveraging technology to achieve this goal is essential.