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A “recruiting market” isn’t where you go to get fresh apples!

A “recruiting market” isn’t where you go to get fresh apples! or A muumuu is one size fits all, but strategic recruitment isn’t – Part II

A couple weeks ago, in “A muumuu-Part I”, I gave you the best model by which to look at strategic recruitment; Marketing. As a 1-2-3 review, to have a most effective recruitment/marketing program, it is an absolute that in order you: define and understand your target market, determine the message you want to send that market, then, and only then, do you find the best medium by which to get that message to your target market. Call it the 3M approach: Market, Message, Medium. (Officially not to be confused with the big 3M, I don’t need a lawsuit.)

I told you that Part I would give a model and that would look at how to apply that model. One point of emphasis was that you can’t use just one method. Different job families have different dynamics. Thus, you have to adapt your entire approach to most adequately address those dynamics. Instead of giving you another marathon, I am going to break this up even further. For the next three Human Systems, we are going to break out the three M’s. This will better keep this as an e-letter instead of an online novel.

Is it all worth it? I would bet I could ask many in healthcare how you recruit for food service workers, nurses, managers, executives, and the answers would be very similar to each role; too much so. I hope when this is over, your answers will be more deliberate to the dynamics of each. The biggest shame would be to agree to these logical dynamics, but practices not change. (Someone respond and help me with that phenomenon.)

The formula for effective recruitment is a function of time, quality, and cost. How weighted the importance of each factor depends on the specific type of person you are seeking. Really, quality is not always the paramount issue. (Shoot me for saying it if you must.) At times, cost should not be the issue, nor should time. At other times, time is of the utmost importance, so is quality, so is cost. It is understanding the individual roles, their place in the organization, the “value-of-variation” of different individuals in the role, and the dynamics of your market that go into making these decisions.

One could accuse me of making something simple, like recruitment, complex. On the contrary, I’m much more accusational of a person of trying to make something that is very complex, simple.

Think of fishing. What is the simplistic form of fishing? Throw a bare hook in the water and wait. Do you want the fish that will bite a bare hook? Are you able to wait that long? (and yes, as dumb as it sounds, I’ve seen the equivalent in recruiting practices) You think we should bait the hook? With what? Worms, minnows, stink bait, leaches? (Yes people fish with leaches; big long ones. Done it. Fish love them but it creeps me out.) Do you use a cane pole or more sophisticated rod & reel; are you a fly fisherman? Do you fish from the shore or in a boat? Do you have a depth finder or better yet a fish finder? What is the temperature of the water? Do you use artificial bait? Crank bait, jigs, spinner bait, spoons, flies? Do we spray some of that special fish attractant on it? Ok, I’ll stop there. Do you see how simplistic vs. complex something like fishing can be? Who do you think is catching more fish? Who is hungry? The person that works on just least common denominators or the person that gets into the other secondary dynamics? If you are on “Survivor” (and in this healthcare market, you are) which fisherman do you want in your tribe? So I hope you will indulge me in “getting into it”. Remember, you are intended to be the benefactor here.

M #1: Who is your target Market? Before you catch them, you have to first understand your multifaceted market. It would be better to say you have to understand your multiple markets. Actually, you have multiple, multi-facetted markets. See how easy this recruitment thing is?

First consider the division of roles and job families.

The broadest division of roles is between staff and management. In M#2 (message) & M#3 (medium) we will use these distinctions more.


  • Unskilled: laborers, food services workers, housekeeping staff, etc.

  • Skilled: IT staff, engineering staff, (cognitive differences matter).

  • Credentialed professionals: Nurses, radiology tech, nuclear med tech, physical therapist, pharmacist, etc


  • Front line supervisor

  • Department manager/director (mid-management)

  • Executive level

There are many other roles you can put in their respective places above. Mainly, ask these questions:

  • How much experience/background is it necessary for this person to have?

  • How much training and/or education do they need to have?

  • Is a skill set and/or mindset equally important in this role?

During your market analysis, the facets to consider:

  • Understand your employment market.

  • Employment rate

  • Competition for the skill set

  • Should your strategy be to lure away from competitors, importing the talent, or can you grow it?

  • Are you in a rural or urban setting? If you are in a large city, you do the “swap staff” thing with many other facilities; your employee population has many choices. If you are in Muskogee, Oklahoma, your staff is more likely to be long term and don’t have the same choices about changing employment.

  • Aside of the week: This makes a tremendous difference in your organizational dynamics and culture. Another great example about one size not fitting all. If you bring a big city HR background to a smaller town and don’t make adjustment, you are T-O-A-S-T. The same applies in reverse. (Not T-S-A-O-T, but if you come from a small one or two horse (hospital) town and don’t adjust to the urban dynamics.)

  • Supply and demand issues

  • Pizza Hut is paying workers $9/hour and can’t get them, are you going to get people to work in your laundry area for $6/hour?

  • Nursing shortage, pharmacist shortage, you are haunted by it.

  • Physical therapists. This is an enlightening study by itself. Remember how the contract therapy firms robbed you? It was tougher to get into PT school than medical school. One reimbursement change and the entire supply/demand dynamic changes.

  • High turnover roles: There are some positions like Directors of Surgical Services and Business Office Directors that have always been high turnover roles. There is also what I call trend turnover roles. Currently, Directors of Radiology and Directors of Pharmacy have been the most prevalent examples in recent years. For time and space, I won’t go down the road of my theories about these. (If you want that 2 cents, message me.)

  • Understand who you are:

  • How are you perceived in your market? If you are a B facility, understand that. If you try to compete and “sell” that you are really a 100-bed version of Cedar Sinai or M.D. Anderson, and recruit on that basis, do you really have the horsepower to back that up? Now you are both ‘B’ and delusional. Instead, recognize the value and positives you have and develop these. Realize not everyone wants to work in the “name brand” and get lost amongst many.

  • What is your organization’s economic situation? Are you in great shape financially? (If so, are you sure you are in the healthcare industry?) Are you riding the financial edge, or losing money? Have you had layoffs? Those things make a difference in how you approach a market and what your expectations should be. It definitely is important when you frame your Message (M#2).

  • What is the culture of your organization? What you think it is, or want it to be, isn’t near as important as how the outside sees it. Again, this will come into play with the message you send. (FYI, there are some great things you can do with this without spending much $,)

  • What is the complexity of the role?

  • Variability?

  • Understand who your market is.

  • Is this role dominated by one sex more than others?

  • What are the socioeconomic norms of this group?

  • Where do these people spend their time when they aren’t at work?

  • What are the important issues to the different groups?

  • Do you think ongoing challenge is of interest to everyone?

  • Are flexible hours more of interest to some than others?

  • Does everyone care about the education benefits?

  • Retirement? I’m trying to get to the next check.

  • On site daycare?

Think about employee relations programs. How many people in your organization would get a kick out of a “Pick the next US Open golf champion” event vs. a NASCAR party? People have different interests. Are you attuned to the differences? If you alienate employees you already have by not being in touch with group differences, how much more can it keep you from getting good employees in the first place?

I could go on and on about different dynamics and facets of your multiple markets. The point is you realize that they are multi-facetted multiple markets (I’m a charter member of the alliteration of the week club.) Choose to approach each market with this in mind. This should help you frame your target market.

Choose to make it a great week!

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