Traditional job recruiting 'not enough,' expert says

Target those who aren't looking

Patient access directors seeking to hire and retain good employees can improve their recruiting ability by looking outside the methods traditionally used by the health care industry, suggests Jill Schwieters, executive vice president and leader of the health care group at Pinstripe, a Brookfield, WI-based outsourcing and recruitment services firm.

At the same time the work force is declining and demands on the health care system are increasing, the skills required of patient access representatives have become more complex, Schwieters notes, making recruiting more challenging than ever.

However, the tendency is for hospitals and other health care organizations to try to fill positions the way they always have, she says. "They post jobs and hope people will apply, they put ads in the paper, and they go to job fairs."

These are all good steps to take, but they're not enough, says Schwieters, who recommends what she calls passive recruiting.

"Passive recruiting is a process used to seek out potential applicants that meet a certain professional demographic, competency or educational background," she explains. "Passive candidates may or may not be aware of the new opportunity and may or may not be open to it. Building their interest level in the position is the key objective."

These passive candidates typically are employed individuals not looking for a new job, Schwieters says, and often are approached and introduced to the potential new employer by a recruiter.

Because the position of admitting or patient access rep is not widely known outside the health care industry, she adds, access directors should learn to identify potential candidates who aren't actively looking for jobs but have similar competencies. Those include individuals involved in clerical, computer, or insurance-related activities, Schwieters says.

"Part of it is good investigation," she says. "Partner with [the person doing] the HR function or use a recruitment partner or you can do it through professional organizations. There are computer-related training programs at local universities and Internet postings for a job category with the same competencies."

Instead of a job fair, Schwieters says, "think of another kind of event to profile. Organize a career fair for juniors and seniors in high school and also have other areas of the hospital there, like nursing and rehabilitation.

"Go to the work force development center, where people are really looking for jobs and [access services] is an unknown area," she adds.

To be successful, access directors must look at recruitment as a priority and distinguish the job they're offering from others in the market, she advises. "[Market it as] a fun place to work that cares about employees. What other industry could you work in right after high school and find a good job with benefits, where you are trained on the computer with a high level of technology?"

It's a common practice in health care to use temporary employment agencies to fill job vacancies, Schwieters notes, with the idea of hiring an individual to go "from temp to perm." She cautions, however, that people work for temp agencies for a reason — because they're looking for temporary work.

Access directors should ask themselves, Schwieters says, "whether that temp agency is really screening for the success competencies that you would look for as an employer, and are they really looking toward the long term. You have to look at patterns of longevity.

"You're also paying a premium for that relationship, as opposed to having a structured, proactive approach," she adds. "With a regular screening process, in which you work with HR or a recruitment partner to find [a candidate] who will have a commitment to that role, you move from a short-term solution to more long-term solutions, and you're saving money as well."

Build recruiting 'pipelines'

Something else that is common in health care recruiting — especially when it comes to hiring nurses — is "using an outsource solution vs. outsourcing your recruitment," Schwieters says. "Sometimes I worry that we have it backwards in health care.

"My point is that health care, which tends to be slow to outsource, should be outsourcing the recruitment process to get a pipeline of applicants," she adds. "If [health care leaders] try to fill the vacancies themselves, they may not have the resources to be great at it. Why not work with an expert that knows how to source?"

Access directors can develop their own pipelines by building channels with local high schools, technical programs, and colleges and universities, Schwieters says. "Some of the best employees are students. You've got good, reliable talent, even if you only get them for two years. Then you can help them move into other roles in the organization as they complete school."

To help target the kind of individual most suited for an access job, she suggests interviewing existing employees. "Talk to your own staff: 'You've been here five years. What is it that you like about your job?'"

Profile those employees, Schwieters adds. "Are they single, students, moms working part time? What is the demographic for those roles?"

Such conversations also can help when it comes to retaining employees, she points out. "People like to feel appreciated and recognized at work."

(Editor's note: More information on Pinstripe is available at