The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down for nearly everyone. Nurse recruiters and the business of recruitment marketing are no exception.

“This has been a very challenging year for nurse recruiters,” Conor O’Shea, Manager of Business Development for Nurse.com Advertising Solutions, said about how the pandemic has affected recruitment marketing in 2020.

One obstacle that affected many organizations was the cancelling of elective procedures. “This resulted in furloughs for many RNs, some of whom moved on to other organizations,” he said.

Another hurdle for health systems? Many had their budgets redirected to emergency services or to other departments.

Given the unique set of barriers to normal operations that COVID-19 presents, here are five tips that can help recruiters survive and thrive during these tumultuous times.

Tip 1: Optimize Your Remote Work Capabilities

Many human resource professionals now work from home, which can present a new set of challenges.

“Stick to the same habits when working at home as you had when you went to the office,” said Theresa Mazzaro, RN, CHCR, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine in Bethesda, Md., and president elect of the National Association for Health Care Recruitment (NAHCR). “Get up at the same time, practice your same routine, sit at a dedicated work space and desk, and close the door when you’re ready to begin your work.”

Some nurse recruiters had to adapt to remote work, while also balancing virtual learning for their children.

“If you’re busy helping your kids at home with remote learning during the day, you may find it more fruitful to conduct your recruiting work during the evening hours,” Mazzaro said.

Tip 2: Network With Peers

Tap into fellow recruiting professionals and resources at the local and national level, Mazzaro said.

“Consider attending conferences such as NAHCR’s or others, utilize list-serves and LinkedIn, don’t be afraid to ask questions and rely on your peer group,” she said.

It’s important not to lose site of your goal, which is finding the best employees for your organization. “Your purpose has not changed, even with the pandemic.”

Maximizing your connections, both within and outside of an organization by networking, is an integral part of building resiliency and a cohesive team, according to Josh Bershin, author of the article Introducing Resilient HR: A New Way To Run Your Business,

“HR itself must do away with silos and operate as a pool of highly trained professionals,” he said. “In the military, when it’s time to attack an enemy position, the team assembles a cadre of soldiers and they come together, share their expertise, and go after the target. The same must happen in HR.”

Tip 3: Create a High-Touch, Personalized Experience for Candidates

Given the increased use of digital communications and interviews with the pandemic, it’s important to find ways to create high-touch and more personalized encounters with candidates, Mazzaro said.

“Even before COVID-19, we were providing high touch experiences for our candidates, while using technology,” Mazzaro said. “One example is the one-way video interview, with candidates responding to pre-recorded questions via video. We added introductory, welcome videos of various hiring managers, the CNO, and myself, to help personalize this experience for our candidates and make them feel welcome.”

Tip 4: Maximize Social Media

Social media can be a tremendous recruitment tool, O’Shea said. “I recommend every organization have a dedicated careers Facebook page and Instagram presence,” he said.

Targeting your promoted social media campaigns by using the Nurse.com database also is a highly efficient way to control what types of nurses are seeing your recruitment messages, O’Shea said.

“By filtering your campaigns to reach nurses based on their location, clinical specialty, position, and education level, you can focus your recruitment budget directly on the types of RNs that you want to reach, and avoid spending limited advertising dollars on people who are not a match for your open positions.”

Facebook is still the leader when it comes to recruitment marketing via social media; however, a lot of Nurse.com’s recruitment advertising clients also are using Instagram to reach potential RN candidates, said O’Shea.

Tip 5: Ensure Efficiency When Recruitment Marketing

Efficiency is key during all phases of the marketing and recruiting process.

It’s wise to evaluate your applicant tracking system (ATS) on a routine basis to make sure it’s capturing high-quality candidates, suggested Mazzaro.

“Consider hosting a microsite” she said. “This is an area on your website where highly skilled candidates for your difficult to fill positions, can easily upload a resume. Offering this feature gets them in the queue right away, without immediately requiring them to fill out an entire and lengthy job application.”

This approach is analogous to the “easy apply” button on websites such as LinkedIn, Mazzaro said.

“You want to make the application process quick and easy, especially for hard to fill positions,” she said.

You’ll also want to ensure you practice efficiency in how your recruitment marketing is targeted, how your advertising dollars are spent, which solutions are engaging the highest quality candidates and reaching unique nurses, that otherwise would not see your career opportunities, O’Shea said.

“Getting the right message in front of new candidates could be crucial to filling your open positions,” he said.