Holiday hiring can be a recruiter’s worst nightmare or best opportunity.

And recruiting during the holidays — amid a nursing shortage  — is no easy task. Mounting pressure to find qualified nurse candidates can quickly put you in a tailspin.

Here are five important tips to jump start your holiday recruiting roundup.

1 — Find the easy button

While some departments experience a lull in December productivity, that’s not always the case in the HR department, said Staci Roberts, EVP of Cielo Healthcare, a recruitment and outsourcing agency headquartered in Brookfield, Wis.

Though it almost goes without saying, it’s always hard to recruit nurses and that’s no different during the holidays, Roberts said. To find and hire nurses, she suggests making the process simple for busy nurses.

“You need to make it as easy as possible for the nurses, from them knowing about your jobs, the application process, hiring process, up to the first day on the job,” she said. “That entire process needs to be as seamless and as easy as possible.”

Want to attract the best talent? Then think of recruiting during the holidays as a courting process.

Roberts said you must realize nurses want a “consumer-grade experience” much like the online buying experience where customer service is skillfully built in, such as Amazon.

As a licensed physical therapist for 21 years, Roberts understands the clinical demands of healthcare professionals and those of recruiters.

2 — Win ‘em over with better pay

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate at 3.2% in its November 2019 statistical review, which notes healthcare job growth is strong.

“Healthcare employment continued on an upward trend in October (plus 15,000 jobs). Healthcare has added 402,000 jobs over the last 12 months,” according to the report.

What does this mean for recruiters?

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Recruiters eager to find qualified candidates will face the same challenges until the problem is fixed.

So what is the problem? We caught up with Steve Horwitz, an economics professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., to gauge his perspective on hiring during low unemployment.

Call it the double whammy — a nursing shortage coupled with low unemployment. To attract, hire and retain skilled nurses, it boils down to better compensation.

“The fact that there’s a nursing shortage suggests that compensation being offered to nurses is insufficient to draw enough of them into the market to fill the openings,” Horwitz said. “The fact that unemployment is low is precisely the problem. Nurses may well have other options.”

The question is can healthcare organizations afford the consequences of nurses walking out the door? Horwitz suggests giving nurses more reasons to stay rather than reasons to leave.

“The only way to draw them into nursing jobs is to offer them enough to pull them away from the alternatives,” he said. “If hospitals and other providers want to hire more nurses, they’re likely going to have to offer them better pay and benefits.”

3 — Advantages of less competition

Hiring doesn’t always come to a screeching halt when the holidays roll around — at least, not in all organizations.

The truth is that recruiting during the holidays could give recruiters an advantage when looking for top talent.

Sure, some job seekers put their search on hold in December, but savvy job hunters also know it means less competition to land a job.

It can open a window of opportunity to snag outstanding candidates. And if your competitors don’t bother to hire during the holidays, you will enjoy less competition from local employers, according to a report from ERE Media.

Think quality over quantity.

4 — Make same-day offers

When healthcare facilities find qualified nurses to hire, they don’t have the luxury to delay decisions. If you like them, hire them.

Roberts suggests pre-qualifying candidates ahead of time with AI automation tools. Front-end processes like pre-screening candidates can help recruiters quickly sift through the pile of resumes.

When candidates make the cut, Roberts suggests using an automated scheduling tool that allows them to set up the interview date. That way, you can meet face-to-face and make an offer.

“Once they go through that pre-screen and come on site, our hiring leaders are ready to make same-day offers,” Roberts said.

In a pilot study with one client, Roberts said pre-screening automation tools allowed them to make same-day job offers and reduce hiring time by 50%.

If text messaging is an option, use it to schedule interviews and expedite the process.

With any automation technology — such as pre-screening and interview scheduling tools — make them available 24/7, Roberts said. Remember that nurses work odd hours and might use online tools after a late-night shift ends and when recruiters are in bed.

5 — Networking at holiday parties

In between nibbling fancy hors d’oeuvres and sipping a glass of Merlot, networking at holiday parties lets extroverted employees help find your next hire.

At company-sponsored events and other functions, consider reminding employees about job openings at your facility.

Ask staff to send referrals back to the HR department. If there’s a referral hiring bonus program, send a timely email reminder that referral bonuses can boost an employee’s stash of holiday cash, especially when recruiting during the holidays.