The Ongoing Importance of the Candidate Experience in Healthcare

Marketing Specialist

In this tight job market, companies are being forced to approach the candidate experience in a new way.

Katrina Kibben, CEO and founder of Three Ears Media, which seeks to help brands improve the candidate experience, explains it this way: “Right now the candidate experience is like a one-way mirror, where all these candidates are walking by the glass. You're seeing them, but they aren't seeing you.”

To compete for top talent, especially in industries like healthcare with significant shortages of qualified candidates, employers need a different approach — a more open approach that connects with candidates in a real way. That human connection is crucial to compete for top healthcare talent.

Here’s how healthcare organizations can put the human element back in their recruiting process.

Focus on the Candidate

One major step toward improving your recruiting process is to turn your focus outward to the candidates rather than focusing inward on your company’s needs, Kibben says. “The number one way to improve your candidate experience is to make your candidates the hero,” she says. “When you sit down to write a job ad, when you sit down to write that engineering page that's supposed to make engineers feel warm and fuzzy, you should be thinking of a person, not your company.”

This is particularly important for the healthcare industry, says Abby Cheesman, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer at Skill Scout, which helps employers bring their jobs and cultures to life through video. “When we think about healthcare, it's this enormously high-touch industry where the people that are drawn to it are very human-centered. And hiring processes are very opposite that in many ways,” Cheesman says.

Offer Clarity, but Watch Out for Information Overload

There’s a high degree of variation in what day-to-day jobs can look like in healthcare, even between jobs that have the same general description. For example, nurses who coordinate care for patients after surgery need a different skill set than nurses who work in a doctor’s office; they need to be able to work more autonomously, for example, and to coordinate care between different providers. And even within the same hospital, the day-to-day working conditions in the ER differ from the ICU.

Given this, it's important to illustrate to candidates what the experience will be in each particular position. “There are very different jobs, particularly in healthcare, that might look really similar when a candidate is reviewing them on a job board or when they're looking at places to apply,” Cheesman says.

Also, healthcare recruiters often focus too much on the technical qualifications for a job, Kibben says. “There's a lot of acronyms we need to explain. There are more requirements than ever before to make a hire in healthcare, regardless of the level,” she says. “Ultimately, when employers create content that supports the search and the candidate experience, they overcomplicate it. They try to get every single bit of detail to make it a complete match, to get a 100 percent qualified person applying.”

A Solution: Tell a Story

A way to avoid the information-overload trap is to focus on telling a story. “One of the things that we see a lot of companies doing is using video and media and storytelling from inside of these jobs to help bring the job search materials closer to what it's actually like for candidates,” Cheesman says.

She says she encourages clients to tell the authentic stories of real people as part of their recruitment process. This can not only help good candidates find you because you offer what they’re looking for, but also help candidates see your organization as a path they’re interested in but weren’t aware of.

“You think about someone who's graduated recently from a nursing school and they didn't realize how many different directions they could go with that one degree in an industry,” Cheesman says. “Candidates often feel overwhelmed with the choices.”

Video is a particularly strong way to tell these stories, she says. “Using video to show the differences between nursing jobs enables candidates to make a good decision about which job is right for them,” Cheesman says.

Most industries are facing a talent crunch, but the shortage of skilled workers in healthcare means employers have to do even more to create a good candidate experience. Shifting your perspective from your company to your candidate is key. “This is the candidate's experience,” Kibben says. “What makes them feel good? What do they like? How do I streamline this experience so it's so easy for them to feel good about it no matter the income?"

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