Healthcare IT Staffing Tips

8 Steps to an Effective Healthcare IT Staffing Strategy

July 13, 2012
8 Healthcare Staffing Tips

Story Highlights

  • Shortfall of health IT talent over the next five years will be 50,000 workers.
  • Effective healthcare IT staffing pros have a broad working knowledge of all things healthcare and technology.
  • Write the job posting like a sales pitch.
  • Understanding the candidate’s needs is just as important as knowing what the hiring manger wants.
  • Most importantly, act quickly. Organizations with a lengthy hiring process will miss out on top talent.

One of the few bright spots in the American economy, the healthcare industry continues to add jobs while other sectors struggle to claw their way back from the Great Recession. Aging Baby Boomers and wider access to health insurance mean the demand for healthcare providers is certainly up, and legislation around the implementation and meaningful use of Electronic Medical Records and ICD-10 means the number of healthcare IT jobs is up as well.

This increased need means it’s a great time to be in healthcare IT staffing. Organizations require long-term technical assistance with the selection, implementation, and maintenance of their EMR systems (among other things), and health IT staffing professionals are busy filling those needs. Job security certainly looks good in healthcare IT recruiting, but that doesn’t mean the job is an easy one – far from it.

IT professionals with specialized healthcare expertise are a rare breed. In fact, the federal government has suggested the shortfall of health IT talent over the next five years will be 50,000 workers. Programs are in place to ease the shortage, but the depth and breadth of experience of those graduating from these training programs will vary greatly. Identifying experienced healthcare IT professionals and persuading them to take a position requires a specialized skill all its own; one that many in healthcare IT recruiting are still refining. Every healthcare IT staffing expert has a strategy though, and it may look something like this:

Understand hiring requirements, as best you can. Recruiters specializing in health IT realize that health IT itself is still being defined, and thus, the learning process is ongoing. Health IT staffing experts are continually researching the industry, whether it’s the acronyms routinely used in hospitals, the various Electronic Medical Record systems and their individual modules, or simply industry news, opinions, and insights. The most effective healthcare IT staffing pros have a broad working knowledge of all things healthcare and all things technical. Only then can they have credible conversations with both healthcare hiring managers and healthcare IT professionals.

Write the job posting like a sales pitch. Once the health IT staffing expert understands the specifics of the job, they put pen to paper and write about it. Sure, they may start with a template, but the editing process will be significant and the job posting will be distinct from all others. Thinking like an ad copywriter, they will highlight what makes the job great while still disclosing the other specifics. Smart health IT staffing pros will make it easy for candidates to apply for positions, never requiring them to complete lengthy online applications. Busy health IT professionals don’t have time for that.

Pull out all the sourcing stops. The shortage of talent means health IT staffing experts must use every tool in the sourcing toolbox to connect and network with candidates. Referrals, social networks, and job boards are compulsory. Niche job boards specifically remain a proven method of sourcing from a highly targeted audience. A word to the wise though – it may be tempting to post a few “golden” opportunities as a way of soliciting prime resumes, but the health IT audience is a savvy one, and this method may do more to harm a recruiter’s reputation with a candidate than it will to build that recruiter’s database.

Even in a technical business, personality counts. The healthcare IT recruiting process begins with identifying candidates with the right experience, but also important is the recruiter’s sense of how the candidate will relate to the hiring manger and their potential colleagues. Oftentimes, a big part of healthcare IT jobs is teaching and explaining a new system to providers. Quickly evaluating a candidate’s personality in this regard is a critical part of creating the shortlist of candidates.

Keep an open mind (and counsel the hiring manger to do the same). Persuading candidates to take a position when they have multiple options can be tough, so falling in love with a single candidate often leads to disappointment. Smart health IT staffing pros keep an active pipeline of candidates with various types and levels of experience. These recruiters know that when time is a factor (and with meaningful use deadlines approaching, it often is) an able and willing B or C candidate is better than an unattainable A candidate.

Understand the candidate’s needs (and know when the job can’t meet them). Part of making a good placement is making sure both parties are happy in the partnership. Thus, understanding the candidate’s needs is just as important as knowing what the hiring manger wants. If it’s going to take significantly more than the salary cap to convince the candidate to take the job, it’s not worth pursuing them. Similarly, if the candidate has expressed the desire for a more challenging position and the job is pretty straightforward, persuading them otherwise will only result in a mismatched placement.

Be prepared to pay. The far reaching need for health IT talent is no secret, and candidates are well aware that their services are valuable. The ability to pay may dictate how some organizations approach health IT recruiting. Others will scramble to offer additional perks and benefits to persuade their candidates of choice. While money generally talks, for some candidates the level of challenge will dictate their interest. Whatever the influencing factors, the power often rests with the candidate and savvy healthcare IT staffing professionals are prepared for that.

Most importantly, act quickly. Another influencing factor is simply timing. Health IT staffing experts are continually presenting candidates with job opportunities, and all too often, the one the candidate takes may simply be a matter of timing. These in-demand professionals won’t wait weeks for second and third interviews; they often get offers after a simple phone interview. Organizations with a lengthy hiring process will miss out on top talent time and time again.

The demand for health IT professionals continues to rise and should not see a retreat any time soon. As a result, healthcare IT staffing pros will continue to refine their strategy for matching experienced candidates with the organizations that need them.

What methods would you add to this list? How are you effectively sourcing healthcare IT professionals?