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Fall 2020 - Innovation

Tips for Recruiting Healthcare Talent

LONG BEFORE the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. at the beginning of this year, the demand for healthcare services was soaring, creating an urgent need for more healthcare workers. For instance, in just the first three months of 2017, the healthcare industry added approximately 60,000 new jobs, including nurses, physicians, allied professionals, leaders and nonclinical positions.1 And, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects healthcare occupations will grow 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 1.9 million new jobs.2

The reasons for this immense growth? The greatest driver is an aging population. According to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people 65 years and older will grow from 43 million in 2012 to 84 million in 2050, escalating from 14 percent of the population to 21 percent. What’s more, this population will need a greater quantity and complexity of healthcare services. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over age 65 experience three times more hospital days than the general public, and those over 75 years experience four times more hospital days.3

Another growth driver is the economy. BLS says U.S. employment will rise from 150.5 million in 2014 to 160.3 million in 2024. More people with jobs means more people who have health insurance and money to pay for co-pays and deductibles.1 (Although, as of this writing, it is not known whether the economy will continue to grow at this rate due to the pandemic.) Add to this equation the Affordable Care Act, which has allowed more people to purchase health insurance.4

And, while the growth in jobs is great news for the healthcare industry, it poses a critical problem since there is a major shortage of trained professionals. According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (which is conducted every two years), while job openings have traditionally outpaced job hires in healthcare, the gap between openings and hires has been widening rapidly since 2014. Job openings have been rising, while job hires have remained relatively static (Figure 1). Job openings include new jobs, retirements, quits and any other kind of job separation. Another BLS survey projects 1.26 million total healthcare job openings per year for 2016 through 2026. For all practitioners and technical occupations, the projection is 624,000 job openings per year, which includes 204,000 registered nurse job openings per year (Figure 2).3

In light of the uber-competitive environment to attract workers, healthcare facilities would be wise to embrace some key recruitment strategies.

Figure 1: Gap Grows Between Healthcare Job Openings and Hires



Figure 2: Average Annual Job Openings 2016-2026


Attracting Talent

With the widening gap in the number of jobs versus the number of workers, it all comes down to supply versus demand. Today’s market is a worker’s not a seller’s market, and that’s exactly how facilities need to approach the hiring process.

It starts with branding. According to PeopleScout, a recruitment process outsourcing provider, “to increase the number of candidates accepting offer letters, healthcare organizations need to make sure their employment brand is positive.” When posting a job, the human resources department should invest time in writing a compelling post that catches candidates’ attention and convinces them the organization is better than the competition.4 Candidates will be shopping for their next employer, and they will be drawn to organizations that look like good places to work. Therefore, it’s important to get individuals’ attention by creating a catchy company profile and promoting the positives of working at the facility the candidate is considering. This means highlighting the company culture by “telling compelling stories about their workplace and employees.”

And, it means touting the company’s benefits, including compensation, flexible work environments, healthcare and other positives. For instance, organizations can look for ways to implement policies around flextime and telecommuting. They can also offer opportunities beyond the traditional benefit packages. Barkley Davis, senior director of physician recruitment at LifePoint Hospitals, says debt relief is the top priority for nearly all new physicians. Therefore, LifePoint offers some doctors monthly stipends if they accept a job offer while they are still in training.5

During the recruitment process, candidates should be provided a top-notch experience from the application and interview to the job offer and onboarding. “Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes to ensure your organization is treating candidates with respect and making them feel valued,” says Jen Dewar, a human resources marketing consultant. “With the stiff competition for talent, candidate experience could be the difference between a candidate choosing to work for your organization rather than a competitor.”6

Growing a Talent Pool

But it isn’t enough to just post a job to find the best candidates. When new positions open up, healthcare organizations should already have a source list of candidates. This means continually growing a talent pool. There are a number of ways to do this:

1) Not all candidates, even great ones, who apply for a position will get offered or take the job. Some may not have all the required qualifications, and some may decide to stay in their current position. But, contact with those candidates should be nurtured so when the time is right, they can be tapped.6

2) Rather than just relying on resumés received in response to a job posting, a resumé database of candidates who have already expressed an interest in the organization can be a useful and faster recruiting tool. It can also minimize sourcing costs. And, newer databases offer advanced features such as Boolean and semantic search to find the right candidate quickly, as well as to access public web profiles.4

3) Employee referral programs can be a great resource for finding talent. These programs can provide monetary rewards, but trips, vouchers and other items can help to better market the program. Even incentives such as time off and gift vouchers are less expensive than cash rewards.7

4) Partnering with national and state job boards, public health departments, professional societies, universities, colleges, academies and high schools is another way to develop comprehensive talent pipelines.5 For instance, individuals typically join professional associations to advance their careers by networking, working toward designations, etc. Posting on these associations’ job boards or attending as a guest to networking events can expose the organization to those seeking opportunities.

Embracing Technology

Healthcare recruiting technology can make recruiting more cost-effective by improving costly time-to-fill metrics, reducing costs and streamlining the hiring process. This technology includes (among others):9

  • Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook to search for potential candidates, find a good match to fill the skill gap, establish a connection with them and inspire them to apply for the open positions in their organization;
  • Direct sourcing platforms that integrate with databases of local talent communities, diversity job boards and different minority associations; and
  • Chatbots that talk to candidates via automated messages and interactions, and which also provide general FAQs fed into the chatbots so queries will be automatically addressed.

Other tips include optimizing job ads to achieve higher ranking in search engines so job openings are noticed more quickly by candidates. And, when using a referral program, tapping into referral software allows hiring managers and recruiters to send requests for referrals for particular positions. Referral software can also help employees share open positions with their social network. Too, applicant tracking systems can typically integrate with dedicated referral software services, or offer their own referral tools.7

Analyze Recruiting Activities

It’s important for healthcare organizations to focus their resources strategically when it comes to recruiting talent. Analyzing recruitment activities will also provide useful insight into what is working well and what needs improvement.


  1. AMN Healthcare. Healthcare Industry Forecast: High Demand Due to Aging, Economy. Accessed at
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare Occupations. Accessed at
  3. AMN Healthcare. Future for Healthcare Jobs: Seven Charts Show Intensifying Demand for Services and Workforce. Accessed at
  4. Auerbach D. Need to Hire Health Care Workers? Get Back to Basics. Career Builder, Sept. 20, 2017. Accessed at
  5. PeopleScout. Six Tips for Healthcare Recruiting. Accessed at
  6. Dewar J. 6 Healthcare Recruitment Trends for 2018. Healthcare Source. Accessed at
  7. Bika N. 6 Ways to Build an Employee Referral Program That Works. Workable. Accessed at
  8. ouley J. 6 Tips for Healthcare Recruiting Success. Hospital, Oct. 11, 2016. Accessed at blog/3532/6-tips-for-healthcare-recruiting-success.
  9. Vallikat A. Talent Acquisition and Technology: Redefining Talent Acquisition In 2020. PeopleHum, Dec. 23, 2019. Accessed at
Ronale Tucker Rhodes, MS
Ronale Tucker Rhodes, MS, is the Senior Editor-in-Chief of BioSupply Trends Quarterly magazine.