Competition is tough, especially when it comes to hiring nurses.

So it’s essential for every nurse recruiter to stay on track by using expert strategies to recruit the best nurses for his or her organization. This is especially crucial during a nursing shortage.

Groups to consider when hiring

Recruiters must understand several key areas that affect their success, said Theresa Mazzaro, RN, CHCR, senior talent acquisition specialist at Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine in Bethesda, Md.

She said there are three groups of constituents to keep in mind with skillful recruiting:

“I work to provide the best experience for all three groups,” said Mazzaro, who also is president-elect of the National Association for Health Care Recruitment.

It’s important for nurse recruiters to know how their work affects other groups because “the decisions nurse recruiters and hiring managers make have a tremendous impact, not only the organization’s culture and employee experience, but also on the overall patient experience,” she said.

Recruiters have two clients, the hiring leader they’re recruiting for and the candidates they engage with, said Carlos Fernandez, manager of talent acquisition at Houston Methodist in Texas.

“A skilled recruiter has the ability to balance priorities between both groups,” Fernandez said. “At Houston Methodist, our relationships and values are a priority to ensure a successful experience for candidates. We annually survey our hiring leaders and candidates to optimize our overall service delivery and have continually seen improvement year after year.”

Having a strategic partnership between the nurse recruiter and the hiring manager is imperative, Mazzaro said.

“When working to fill an opening, it’s important the hiring manager conveys his or her needs and expectations to the recruiter,” she said. “A good recruiter will have ongoing conversations with hiring managers to keep their pulse on the needs of their units and organization.”

Maintaining an awareness of the units and organization can further be achieved by rounding. It’s important to get out and about and interact with your hiring managers to be a great nurse recruiter.

“If I know what the manager needs and am aware of the temperament and personalities of the unit, I can talk the talk of that department and send my managers qualified, well-matched candidates,” Mazzaro said.

Nurse recruiter tips for successful match-making

Providing transparency for job candidates throughout the entire hiring process is also important.

Each candidate is an unique individual, Mazzaro said, so you need to ask questions to gauge fit, such as:

  • What shift does he need to fit his family commitments?
  • Are benefits such as tuition reimbursement, money for certification and health insurance must-have perks?
  • Are you offering a salary in the range she needs to meet her budget and financial obligations?

Providing the salary range in the beginning of the process is part of being transparent and is imperative.

“If this is not done, a recruiter and manager may spend a lot of time with a candidate and hold several meetings, then have them decline from the job at the end of the process due to discovering the salary being offered is lower than they are willing to accept or cannot afford,” Mazzaro said.

A great nurse recruiter, according to Fernandez, focuses on customer service delivery, strong communication skills — including negotiation and influence — and has a nose for details.

You must remember that the needs of open nursing specialty roles vary. “It’s important to acquaint yourself with the hiring department and ingrain yourself in their team dynamics,” he said. “This will provide a snapshot in the functional and behavioral skills that are most aligned to the hiring leaders you’re recruiting for.”

Source from the candidate’s point of view

At times, organizations seek experienced nurses to fill specialty units. At other times, they’re looking for new grads for entry-level positions.

The difference between recruiting for experienced versus early professional hiring is sourcing, according to Fernandez.

“New graduate pools can be sourced directly from university and academic programs, while experienced nurse recruitment requires multiple sourcing initiatives,” he said.

Most candidates want instant results, feedback and response from employers when they apply or express interest in a role.

This requires recruiters to get in front of candidates through technology, onsite events and informal networking forums to showcase their organizational brands, Fernandez said.

“It’s a candidate-driven market with record low unemployment across the U.S.,” Fernandez said. “It’s imperative employers up their game to ensure their branding is consistent throughout the candidate experience.”

At Houston Methodist, recruitment and talent acquisition team members act as brand ambassadors on social media, company pages and targeted outreach. This helps them promote open positions and inform candidates about the latest organizational developments, Fernandez said.

Mazzaro said she likes to occasionally apply to her own HR system to see how the experience is from a candidate’s point of view.

“Some organizations see candidates drop out of the application process because their system is too difficult to navigate,” she said. “If I see a problem, I work to correct it. It’s important to have empathy for people, including job candidates. Providing a good candidate experience will set your organization apart from the rest, particularly when the market is tight and you’re competing for candidates.”