How to Develop a Holistic Recruitment Strategy in Healthcare

Marketing Director

The intense competition to hire for healthcare organizations shows no signs of abating, as demand for care increases while more baby boomers are retiring every day. As a result, too often healthcare companies find themselves hiring haphazardly, taking into account a candidate’s qualifications but not how they will fit with the company’s culture.

A new mindset is to have a “holistic” recruiting strategy. It’s an idea that has been talked about in broader human resources circles, but is just making its way to the healthcare sector. Here’s what you need to know.

A New Approach

“There has been a push among healthcare employers toward finding a candidate who fits the healthcare organization as a whole person. Not just a fit in skill set and clinical qualifications, but also a culture fit, a personality fit and someone who will succeed in the setting the employer has to offer,” says Jamie Thomas, Executive Vice President of The Medicus Firm, a healthcare recruiting agency.

“This mix of finding someone who fulfills both a clinical skill set and a soft skill set such as empathy, teamwork, bedside manner, motivation, mission of the organization, etc., is what holistic recruiting is about.”

Competition is fierce, with unemployment in the healthcare industry even lower than the national average, which is at a record low itself, Thomas says. So it’s more important than ever that employers truly get to know the candidates who will deliver patient care and support services.

4 Principles to Prioritize

Harry Kraemer believes it’s vital to hire people who can live the values of the healthcare organization and, eventually, become a leader of it. True leadership isn’t about titles and organization charts, he says, but the ability to relate to and influence people.

A professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, as well as an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners, a large equity firm, Kraemer previously was CEO, President and Chairman of the Board at Baxter International Inc., a multibillion-dollar global healthcare company.

In his writings and teaching, he promotes four principles that are essential to a successful leader, which is how healthcare organizations should see all its candidates: as potential future leaders. They are:

  • Self-reflection: “Through self-reflection, you do two things: the right thing and the best you can do,” Kraemer says.
  • Balance: The ability to have understanding of an issue from multiple sides.
  • True self-confidence: Kraemer differentiates this from self-inflation. True self-confidence comes from knowing what you don’t know, and admitting when you’re wrong.
  • Genuine humility: This results from acting humble and understanding that every single person matters to an organization.

No Room for Shortcuts

Like most things worth pursuing, there is no instant way to develop a holistic recruiting strategy. At its base is having open, effective and repeated conversations with candidates before hiring. But too often, that gets short shrift.

“Things are moving so fast, and with the use of social media, people are not meeting face to face, and instead are trying to do it through software and technology,” Kraemer says. “At the end of the day, not sitting down and getting to know them is going to make it hard to find people who are going to be strong additions.”

Thomas says it’s vital to plan ahead and devote adequate time and resources to the recruiting process. Don’t just wait for doctors or key staff to retire or leave, but always be in a recruiting mode. And don’t be afraid to reach out to a recruiting agency to help with the important legwork in making sure candidates are the right fit.

“Unless they have a full-time, in-house recruiting team of multiple recruiters, most healthcare employers don’t have time to have three to five conversations (or more) with each and every candidate prior to bringing him or her out for an on-site interview,” Thomas says. “But those multiple, in-depth conversations with candidates are a necessary part of the recruiting process, especially a holistic process, where you’re trying to find the best possible all-around fit for the long-term future.”

With a holistic approach to hiring, healthcare organizations can recruit people who not only have the ability to do the job, but also embrace the group’s mission and values.

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