Health systems and their physician recruiters are being impacted by COVID-19 in different ways. Sr. physician recruiter Beth Calabria, physician recruitment coordinator Ashley Reaser and system director of medical staff recruitment Sharee Selah from Tower Health share how they’re responding to current changes, and how recruiters can continue to recruit effectively - not just through an updated strategy, but also an updated perspective.
To depict COVID-19’s impact on our personal and professional lives, Calabria compared the current healthcare landscape to an Etch-A-Sketch; things are being shaken, turned upside down and cleared out for new ways of approaching physician recruitment. "The transition for all of us in the industry is finding new ways to be efficient with the process," Selah added - and this transition requires adaptability.
Many recruiters at this time have also stepped up and taken on new responsibilities, like managing and overseeing processes that typically wouldn’t involve them. Reaser said her biggest adjustment has been the immediate changes and implementations of policies surrounding COVID-19 and making sure those policies, proper applications and screenings are all being added to the process. She suggests that the key to maintaining a successful strategy during a period of constant change is to be organized, nimble and prepared to fill in any unexpected gaps along the way.
Be open to new tech solutions
One emerging solution has been replacing in-person interaction with virtual events, site visits and interviews. For many systems like Tower Health that have had to change their approach to recruiting the physicians they need, Calabria said that utilizing available virtual opportunities is an absolute. She recommends recruiters get familiar with the best digital interview practices, prepare for online networking events, utilize digital tours to help candidates explore the facility and surrounding community, and consider social media’s ripple effect. Utilizing social media platforms in your strategy might allow your opportunities to circulate beyond a job board and be shared in more places, and consequently, to more individuals outside your usual reach. You may be surprised by how just a few of the right "clicks" can forge a path to the right connections.
PracticeLink has switched its live spring career fairs to virtual events to help you continue interacting with candidates during this time. Interested in learning more or exhibiting at an upcoming PracticeLink Virtual Career Fair?
Personability is everything
Candidates still want to connect but may be uneasy about how this process looks in light of current events. In absence of factors that usually go into their decision (like an in-person introduction and site visit), "Maybe now more than ever, it’s critical to add a personal touch that candidates will remember," Selah remarked. When individuals lose one of their senses, such as sight, for instance, their systems will compensate by strengthening another sense, like touch, or sensitivity to sound. A similar theme may be true in recruitment. When important aspects of the candidate experience are diminished, other factors that go into a candidate’s perception of your organization will take precedence.
Calabria pointed out that now is the recruiter’s time to shine like never before as they work around sudden gaps in the candidate experience to bring value to their organization. Her advice is to pick up the phone and start conversations with the candidates that interest you, and to continue conversations with candidates that are already in your pipeline. Especially as the industry becomes increasingly reliant on technology to communicate with prospects, being clear, compassionate, and adding a personal touch will help candidates get a feel for your community and set yours apart from others. Calabria called on Maya Angelou’s famous quote, referring to the people as candidates in this case, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Consider your candidates’ reality
Job-seeking physicians face a lot of uncertainty and stress, period - not to mention how that’s compounded by a global pandemic. Calabria recalled a recent encounter with a physician specializing in anesthesiology, who like many physicians typically providing elective procedures, has had more time off and the chance to step back and reflect. During what is usually a non-stop process, she said that these individuals have been asking themselves: "Is this where I want to be in my career?" and "Is this an opportunity to make a change?" A lot of physicians, who might usually be eager to be hired, have used current events to consider the health and safety of their families, and how their career decisions could impact them at this time.
Another thing to be mindful of when engaging with candidates is that they, too, are adjusting to virtual recruitment. Different candidates will have different levels of familiarity and comfort with these adjustments. Referencing a recent experience with a candidate, Selah advised that some candidates may not feel as comfortable interviewing on screen as they would face-to-face. Check in with both candidates and stakeholders to make sure they’re comfortable being on screen and are prepared to navigate the tech-based programs you’re using to communicate. Above all, be clear, be mindful and be understanding that new approaches may have new implications for some individuals.
Utilize your reliable tools
When your typical recruitment process and strategies shift, Selah suggests recruiters go back to what they know. Sourcing candidates is always a recruiter’s priority, but using platforms like PracticeLink’s Recruitment Management System (RMS) that help with outreach becomes essential during this time. Take advantage of tools within RMS - like the Candidate Relationship Manager and Applicant Tracking System. See where candidates are within your funnel, grow your candidate pipeline, and continue to post jobs, source candidates and track applicants from sourcing to hire to retention. Selah added that with their experience, recruiters should have the skill set they need to form, maintain and strengthen long-term candidate connections during lengthy hiring processes. Just because it could potentially take longer than the usual six, eight or 12 months to seal the deal with a candidate, "don’t overthink this part of the process," Selah urges recruiters. "Dig into what you already know works."
Find your advantage
The key word that Selah emphasizes to her recruitment team right now is "resilience." None of us can control how physician recruitment has been affected, or how it will continue to change in the coming months. However, what we can control is the mindset we embrace and how we ready ourselves to adapt. Rather than dwell on the disadvantages of working from home, consider that a lot of job-seeking physicians will be more accessible as they do the same, giving them more availability, and you more opportunities to reach them. Similarly, travel restrictions causing a shift to virtual networking events and interviews could mean more candidates can participate without having to make the time or travel commitments needed to attend an in-person event. While you may be extremely busy now, Selah assures recruiters that the surge will likely flatten along with the curve, giving you more time to polish your postings, deepen your descriptions and focus on communication.
In the midst of difficult and changing times, recruiters have a silver lining. When usual recruitment strategies have been cleared like an Etch-A-Sketch and routines must be redefined, "it’s a chance get back to what matters; what makes a good candidate relationship; and what sets apart the good, the bad and the excellent," Selah said.
That’s the spirit of resilience we can all put into practice.