Recruiting qualified nurses to work for a healthcare organization is an essential and ongoing process for HR professionals.
So using the best methods to reach candidates of interest in your nursing recruiting is imperative to make the most effective use of your time with each encounter, while also winning over your most valued candidates.
It typically takes multiple interactions — known as touches — to reach nursing job candidates, said Lori Rogers, a senior healthcare recruiter who has worked with multiple organizations for more than 15 years.
“Listing a qualitative number is a challenge as it’s more about building long-term relationships with nurses upfront, than a specific number,” Rogers said. “Hospital systems will likely talk with the same nurse multiple times before they get to an offer.”
Tammy Pennington, who specializes in channel marketing and digital recruitment at Nurse.com powered by Relias, said it generally takes three to 10 touches for a message to resonate with the reader.
“It’s also important to reach out in several ways and different channels,” Pennington said. “If the job market is hot, it may take more touches to effectively reach job candidates.”
In a competitive nursing job market, implementing innovative nursing recruiting strategies is one way to stay ahead of competitors.
One organization that is doing just that is Houston Methodist in Texas. The hospital launched the use of a chatbot called Methodist Interactive Assistant (MIA) in December 2018 for targeted RN roles, said Thomas Vernon, EDM, BSN, RN, CPLP, system director of talent management at Houston Methodist.
Given that Houston is a highly competitive environment to attract and retain RNs, Houston Methodist has looked for ways to enhance access to and improve responsiveness from potential RN candidates, according to Vernon.
“We’ve had tremendous growth over the last several years and expect more growth in the future,” he said. “We wanted to engage nursing candidates at a time that was most convenient for them, in an easy and efficient way. We also wanted to streamline the process to schedule candidates with our sourcing team for a brief phone interview and then ultimately with our recruiters and hiring managers.”
Vernon said the MIA chatbot is a big part of their nursing recruiting strategy. “We’re able to chat with potential candidates from all over the country,” he said. “Over 52% of our candidates who are chatting with MIA are doing so outside of typical office hours. In fact, several of our MIA hires are for experienced night shift RNs, who chatted with MIA during night shift hours. As a former night shift RN, I can appreciate how conducive this is for those working while most people are sleeping.”
Houston Methodist’s data reveals the average RN will see a job posting seven times before clicking on the link to the application, Vernon said.
“Application processes are not always easy,” he said. “MIA helps us simplify the process by allowing candidates to easily learn about our career opportunities prior to committing the time to complete the full application. Once candidates chat with MIA, the sourcer does a phone interview and assesses the candidate for multiple open positions, which reduces the number of times candidates need to interact with us.”
Generational considerations for nursing recruiting
According to Pennington, tailoring the information in your outreach to the values of the generation you’re interacting with can glean better results.
“When reaching out to baby boomer and generation X nurses, you’ll want to discuss career advancement opportunities, salary and health and retirement benefits,” she said. “If your interaction is with nurses from generation Y and millennials, you’ll want to emphasize scheduling, flexible hours, tuition reimbursement and work-life balance.”
Methods of outreach should also be targeted for the different communication preferences between the generations.
“Baby boomers prefer more traditional methods of outreach, such as a phone call, email, in-person at a job fair, postcards or national journal publication outreach,” she said. “Generation X, Y and Z typically prefer more social interactions such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, texting, virtual career fairs, local career fair/interview days and school/alumni outreach to various nursing colleges and universities.”
Vernon said to successfully reach nurses, using different strategies for communicating is most effective.
“It’s important to remember that not all products work for all roles, so we use data to make the best decisions on what method is best for the roles we’re recruiting for,” he said. “We use comprehensive analytics to identify where we are getting candidates and hires from and what content is most effective to engage them.”
Successful nursing recruiting entails a multi-pronged approach using a variety of talent attraction methods, according to Rogers. Some of the strategies she suggests are:
- Targeted job postings
- Paid advertising
- Direct sourcing on various social media platforms
- Cold calling
- Local career fair and interview days
- Print advertisements in national journals
- Attending national and state RN career fairs
- Visiting nursing schools
- Direct referrals
Recruiting new grads versus experienced nurses
Rogers said strategies that work for recruiting new grads many times involve externship programs while nurses are in their third of fourth year of nursing school and includes rotations in areas of interest.
“Once they complete the externship and if they do well, a formal offer may be extended prior to graduation,” she said. “Additionally, hospital systems typically have senior nursing leaders attend events at local colleges, universities and annual conferences prior to graduation.”
Vernon said most new grads are recruited as part of mass nursing recruiting events, but his organization has also hired new grads who first interacted with Houston Methodist’s MIA chatbot.
One helpful method in hiring experienced RNs in specialties such as the NICU, labor and delivery and ICU is to have the nurse come in and interview with the leader, then directly follow with a four-hour job shadow so they can see if the specialty is something they want or not, Rogers said.
In the end, it’s about listening to what new grads and experienced nurses want.
“Offering loan assistance, flexible hours (8-, 10- and 12-hour shifts) competitive wages, sign-on bonuses, relocation assistance, flexibility with internal transfer movement and providing a good orientation experience is important, otherwise you will lose the nurse typically after one year,” Rogers said. “If an organization is respected in the community and treats their employees well, they’ll likely be more successful at attracting nurses.”