Groceries to Garbage: Why Urgency and Follow-Up Matters In Recruiting
Let’s face it: the term ‘recruiter’ to a prospective hire will probably elicit a loud, unimpressed groan.
Recruiters aren’t blessed with the best reputation. They’re repeatedly made out to be the scapegoat for outdated and ineffective hiring practices that start from the client up. Yes, there are many mistakes to be made in the recruiting timeline, but all bad recruiting processes have one thing in common: they lack urgency. Job candidates are quite well-informed and dependable on this issue, and yet, due to bottlenecks in the talent acquisition stage, the interviewers often fail to initiate the most basic follow-up strategies, leading to poor candidate experiences — and damaged reputations. Most of the top-flight candidates will often decide against fantastic job opportunities solely because the company didn’t follow up properly. Newsflash: your dream employees will not last long in the open market, so this means that you’ll need to move through the recruiting process and follow-up quickly to give yourself the best chance of securing the best talent available.
In today’s market, with average tenures dropping by nearly 10% each year, recruiters have to incorporate urgency and a robust follow-up process into their approach. (Turning Point 2018) As a recruiter, you should always maintain the mindset that you are only as strong as your next hire. That’s what the best in the business do. There are lots of things can be used determine your hiring skills – knowledge of the industry you’re working in, the power of your personal network, and the strength of your recruiting tools come to mind. But without a doubt, the most overlooked determinants are the strength of your follow-up, and the use of urgency. It feels like we’re still just beginning to understand the recruiting industry, as the overwhelming majority of its people are ignoring a fundamental piece of the puzzle in every interaction they have with a candidate.
Understanding the life cycle of a successful hire is not difficult. Every good hire has an expiration date – so don’t make the good candidates wait a minute longer than they need to. This is a candidate-driven market, and candidates know they are in demand. Unemployment rates in the U.S. are at a historic low, falling to 4.2% in 2017, 4.1% in 2018, and the natural unemployment rate sitting somewhere between 4-5%, according to the Federal Reserve. (BLS 2018) In terms of health care, the unemployment rate shrank from 3.8% in 2017 to 3.1% in 2018, with no signs of slowing down. While this is a potential indicator of a successful economy, it can also cause some problems. With so many candidates being employed at this time in America, a large percentage of the population will not consider making a career change. To recruiters, that also drives the price of skill sets up, which will put many companies in uncomfortable positions. This creates the basis for a candidate-driven market, putting the power squarely in the candidate’s hands.
Move too slowly and you’ll risk losing your dream hire – move too quickly, and you’ll be wondering what Candidate X might have done if you didn’t accept your dream hire! Although they may taste delicious now, your new store-bought groceries will soon turn into garbage with the passage of time. The same is true of the perfect candidate.
This is certainly not to say that recruiters should reduce the rigor of their processes – after all, every recruiter should still assess their candidates effectively in order to be comfortable with their decision, urgent or not. The two tenets of recruiting are not mutually exclusive, so it would be important to get the right fit behind the physician’s desk, or the waiting room while stressing urgency and treating rejected prospects in a respectful manner. We’re all familiar with the qualities we seek in a stellar candidate, but many of them pale in comparison to urgency with candidates and key preparations during the actual hiring.
According to a study done by Jibe, we’re in the midst of one of the most difficult hiring markets in modern US history. (Jibe 2016) Their study claims that during the financial crisis of 2007–2009, the job market lost 8.7 million jobs, and the unemployment rate hit 10%. But since 2010, employment in the private sector has increased by 14.5 million jobs. That’s an average of 194,000 jobs per month.
In the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 15.6 million jobs will be added to the U.S. market. This way, new health care professionals will be able to seek out new opportunities, and those looking for work will be able to apply for roles that weren’t there during the recession.
It’s important to note that, in the midst of such a challenging job market, opportunities for physicians have remained solid throughout. The healthcare professionals that have been hit the hardest by this downward trend have been on the provider side, with an ongoing candidate shortage forcing prospects to consider specialization, a far more lucrative option financially (and opportunity-wise) for the immediate future.
Nevertheless, the study goes on to say this about the Health Care industry:
“Employment in the health care and social assistance sector is projected to add nearly 4.0 million jobs by 2026, about one-third of all new jobs. The share of health care and social assistance employment is projected to increase from 12.2 percent in 2016 to 13.8 percent in 2026, becoming the largest major sector in 2026.
In addition, Healthcare support occupations (23.6 percent) and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (15.3 percent) are projected to be among the fastest growing occupational groups during the 2016–26 projections decade. These two occupational groups–which account for 13 of the 30 fastest growing occupations from 2016 to 2026–are projected to contribute about one-fifth of all new jobs by 2026. Factors such as the aging baby-boom population, longer life expectancies and growing rates of chronic conditions will drive continued demand for healthcare services.”
For candidates, this means more consistent jobs available, so they can be more selective about the offers they take.
From a supply standpoint, the data also suggests that we aren’t graduating enough doctors or providers to meet growing demand either. In a separate study done by the New York Times, they found that when it comes to medical graduates, the United States ranks 30th of 35 countries (NYT 2016). That statistic is a huge warning sign for the healthcare industry. However, by making it easier for medical students to graduate and be placed, you’ll also be injecting a pool of candidates that are much more keen to work in the underserved rural areas of America (and that make up a quarter of the U.S. physician workforce). Sounds like a “win-win” solution.
Essentially, a candidate-driven market = more competition for employers. While talent competition increases, so do the willingness of workers to leave their current position for new jobs with better salary, bigger benefits packages, more opportunity for advancement, or all three.
This is in stark contrast to the employer-driven years of long interview processes and large candidate pools, Superior Group points out. “Now, rather than waiting for weeks, candidates have the option to find better, more competitive offers at organizations that are not undervaluing their skill sets and that are willing to pay market value.”
In fact, an MRINetwork Recruiter Sentiment Study showed 31% of recruiters said that candidates rejected offers based on better opportunities elsewhere while hiring managers were deliberating on candidates. (Artisan 2017)
Given that the data favors more urgency and follow-through in recruiting, the reality of the process is that there’s only a small window of time where you will have control of the outcome. The recruiter’s most important job is to ensure that the company and the candidate are on the same page. This can often entail keeping a candidate “warm,” or keeping their interest in some form or fashion. But the facts are hard to combat–the longer the candidate has to wait, the greater the chance they will be pursued by other companies or lose interest in the opportunity — even if a candidate was totally committed to you after they were contacted about the position.
So how do you create urgency? Turns out it’s a lot easier than you think.
You can start the process by being as transparent as possible. If you’re interested in a candidate, tell them! If there’s anyone else in the company you’ll need to get approval from, rope them into things immediately. They’ll be waiting for the next step, too, so be sure to speed things up, checking in with them daily to make them feel like you’re wooing them over instead of shopping around with no offers in sight. Letting them know that there is competition is another tactic to inspire more urgency in a top-notch candidate. The benefits of this tactic are up for debate since there’s sure to be many candidates who will hesitate due to the ‘salesy’ nature of disclosing that type of information. There’s nothing worse in the recruiting process than handling the end of the process in such a transactional, ambiguous way. Which leads to the second most important piece of this process – follow-ups.
According to a study on the candidate experience in 2015, the majority of companies that received a one-star rating gave no feedback or response to the candidate after they had applied. (Jibe 2016) Regardless of how long you want your interview shortlist to be, or how long a timeline you are expecting for this process, there are a few necessary components to a successful interview process, and they are often overlooked or just neglected altogether. The first is to set clear expectations about what each candidate can expect to complete before getting an offer extended to them. Each parameter should be defined at the beginning (number of interviews, pre-employment screenings, background checks, etc.) with the feedback process being defined at some point in the first interview. That means outlining who will be providing the feedback and a time window for when the feedback will be provided. If you’ve done the unthinkable, (AKA: you’ve never sent a candidate feedback) be aware that it can be handled directly by you or by the HR department seeking the candidates. The truth of the matter is that candidates set aside a considerable time to schedule and attend your interviews, and time to prepare for the process. If you value the company you’re recruiting for, you owe every candidate a bit of personal feedback.
Some companies already have a well-established feedback process in place, but if not, recommend the development of one with metrics for recruiter and team performance. In the cases where your involvement in that stage is restricted to follow-through and communication, make sure you do it well! Many healthcare provider candidates receive (at best) an email telling them they’ve been rejected. I don’t know if you’ve been blessed with a rejection email before, but we’re pretty sure that everyone from nurse’s offices, to colleges, to dog hotels are using the exact same template. The more detailed and nuanced your feedback is, the better your company will look, and that’s the second most important part of a recruiter’s job (other than hiring the right candidates). More often than not, ask and you shall receive: recruiters that ask for feedback from the candidate themselves set themselves up for greater success in each new hiring project by refining your process, bit by bit.
In many cases, providing more detailed feedback for candidates higher up on the shortlist can build a solid foundation for future hires. If you’ve spent more than a week on the recruiting grind, you’re probably aware of the fact that the client is also looking to you to develop a database of new prospective hires. Filling the pipeline for the next recruiter or team is another way to endear yourself to the company while improving the standard operating procedure for recruiters everywhere. It’s also useful to provide additional feedback to candidate #4 on the list and much less to those lower on your radar for the obvious reason that you don’t want to be providing tons of negative feedback to any health care professionals who took the time to apply (and who may be in the running for a future position.) Beyond courtesy for courtesy’s sake, it’s about filling opportunities quickly, and in this stage of the process, your handling of each candidate can be the difference between building a pipeline of strong candidates and burning a bridge for a potential future hire.
There’s no surefire way to create the perfect hiring experience as a recruiter, or as any other person involved in the process. But the lack of urgency and follow-through in recruiting is having a sizable impact on outcomes, and in a time of economic prosperity and high volatility, we can’t be regressing in the way we approach the hiring process – or the way we treat our candidates. The research will reflect that the most successful recruiters are the ones that are conducting routine evaluations, tweaking their recruiting process on every bit of candidate feedback they receive. You don’t necessarily have to invest in an over the top strategy to leave a good impression on each candidate; some of the smallest changes you uncover in the feedback process will add up to a paradigm shift in your hiring results.
Now that you know what it takes to be the most successful, urgency-friendly recruiter on the market, you can leave it to HCP Navigator to find you the best possible candidates that fuel that sense of urgency. Remember – the average candidate gets multiple offers during an interview process, and you want yours to be the one they accept! Let us help transform your recruiting results today!