• Healthcare’s Workforce Shifts Drive New Strategies for Hiring Managers

    By Kayce Dover, MSHI, RHIA

    Health care is in the midst of unprecedented change, leading the way in job growth, expanded opportunities, and recruiting trends. According to recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of new jobs were created in health care, with an increase of 44,000 jobs in May, followed by another 39,000 in June. Employment in health care is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs. 

    The healthcare industry will add more jobs than any other field due to an aging population, extended longevity, focus on value-based care, and an increase in the number of people with access to health insurance. With the shift to value-based care, we’re also seeing a tremendous push to provide outpatient services, increasing the demand for more specialists. 

    However, finding qualified professionals to fill new positions presents hiring challenges for healthcare managers at all levels. With this in mind, let's take a look at how hiring executives can work with recruiting experts to navigate new workforce challenges.  

    Understanding Changing Trends in Healthcare Hiring

    Successful hiring requires more than just posting positions online. It’s about building relationships between departmental managers and recruiting experts. Both sides of the hiring equation must know the industry, understand unique organizational needs, and stay on top of changes.

    Hospital recruiting departments have traditionally functioned as generalists, recruiting for every type of position in the hospital or health system. They’re not staffed by specialists. Current trends call for more specialized recruiters. Making a good match means understanding the the candidate’s needs, as well as those of the department and provider.

    Different Perspectives Across Generations

    Today’s candidates span three generations—Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. There’s some crossover and common ground among the three groups, but considering the differing perspectives and priorities of each group can be helpful.

    Millennials are naturally tech savvy. Their No. 1 method of finding a job is through a third-party website, online job board, or other technology. And they’re more likely to focus on specific career goals. Recruiters have to be creative, and use of social media is essential. 

    Generation X tends to rely more on headhunters and focus on the value of a strong skill set. They typically prefer a blend of face-to-face communication and technology. Baby Boomers often make connections through people they know. Many prefer a more traditional recruiting style, but some are open to using technology as well.    

    Awareness of generational differences is just one aspect of the recruiting and hiring process—a place to begin tailoring an approach to engage each group. With that said, it’s important not to pigeonhole individuals. 

    The best practice is to consider group characteristics and then delve deeper with each candidate: What is most important to you? What are your top priorities, values, and goals? What are your interests? What kind of culture is a good fit for you? Video interviewing is a growing trend for this purpose, especially with Millennials.

    Know What Matters Most When Recruiting

    On the hiring manager’s side, exploring questions beyond a job description is critical to making the right culture fit. What type of person works best in your office or organization? How do you show employees that they’re valued? What is your management style? What career advancement opportunities are available? 

    If career advancement and growth opportunities are top priority for prospective employees, hiring managers, in conjunction with recruiters, must highlight the job’s future potential. HIM Connections recently conducted an HIM Happiness Survey to explore “what matters” questions with HIM professionals. The results suggest that money is not always the No. 1 priority. More often, people are motivated by the assurance of solid career progression. A recent LinkedIn report about job-seeker trends supports these findings. “Above all, people want career growth. To attract the best candidates, offer them career opportunities, not jobs.” 

    The Right Tools and Techniques to Target the Right People

    As healthcare organizations realize the importance of cultural fit, they’re focusing more on soft skills as part of the hiring process. Some are using behavioral-based assessments, such as questionnaires to get a feel for how a person responds in certain situations—management style, ability to work with a team, and more. At the same time, we’re seeing a push for more webinars, continuing education, and networking with other professionals.

    The right combination of technology and soft-skills assessment supports efforts to properly match candidates with emerging opportunities. Technology is increasingly important—using both social media and an applicant tracking system (ATS). Hospital recruiters must have the ability to use tools effectively to target and engage the most qualified candidates.

    Hospitals receive a high volume of applications each day, and thousands per month. Most have sophisticated tracking systems to help target the right candidate for a position. But an ATS must be continually updated to be useful. Contact information, work history, and other critical fields change often. The value of the tool depends on the accuracy of information in the database and the proficiency of the people using it. 

    Evolving Practices Focus on Partnership 

    For optimal hiring success, hiring managers should work together with hospital recruiters to constantly evaluate what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to change. That means staying on top of the latest tools, technology, websites, trends, and research to make sure your process is effective. Thinking outside the box generates a flow of creative ideas aimed at setting your organization apart from the status quo.                                                                                       

    Also, never lose sight of relationships as top priority. In one case, we had a candidate who eventually accepted an opportunity from another firm. The job was a slightly better fit for her needs. She had to make the right choice for herself and her family. However, she followed up to say: “Thank you for all of your help. It was wonderful working with you. I’ll stay in touch and refer anyone looking for a position.” We let her know that we understood and appreciated the opportunity to work together. Within one hour, a referral came from her.

    That’s what this industry is about—building relationships and improving the lives of others. It’s important to model that philosophy in your recruiting and hiring efforts.


    Kayce Dover, MSHI, RHIA, is a health information management (HIM) professional with a master’s degree in health informatics. She has worked in the HIM industry for more than 15 years and has focused much of her career on the recruitment and staffing of HIM professionals.


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