The Art of Recruiting Top Healthcare Professionals

Group of Nurses

Searching for a Pulse when Recruiting in the Healthcare Sector.

– Written by Monique Prince

Working as A Recruitment Consultant in South Africa is not for the faint-hearted especially when one considers the devastating effect that the CoVid19 health crisis has wreaked on the global employment outlook for 2020.

“Hiring Intentions for Third Quarter Hit 20-Year Low in Many Countries”

In a recent survey conducted by The Manpower Group, which surveyed 43 countries and territories across the globe, two thirds (27 out of 43 countries) reported the lowest hiring outlook in almost 20 years.  The recruitment sector has taken a far heavier hammering in 2020 than the beating it suffered at the 2008/9 economic crash!

For the greater part of Q2, recruitment activities across South Africa remained frozen.  As we enter Q3, and despite constant news reports on the insanely high job loss projections throughout our country, we are fortunately beginning to feel a faint heartbeat across a few smaller niched sectors.  BioSciences, Healthcare and Healthcare Services are such sectors.  Opportunities in other essential services areas like IT & Technology, transportation, food production and online retail and business services are reflecting a stronger pulse rate lately, too.

Working as a Recruitment Consultant for over 15 years has proven that recruiting in certain sectors and industries brings its own set of unique recruitment challenges.  However, the healthcare sector and in particular positions requiring Registered Nurses, is arguably one of the most difficult sectors to recruit for.  The South African Nursing Council (SANC) is the body entrusted to set and maintain the standards of nursing education and practice in our country.  To perform certain roles nurses must be registered with SANC and renew their licenses annually.  Registered Nurses don’t only fulfil the classical nursing roles in a hospital or at a clinic, they also work in the private sectors as Case Managers, Healthcare Co-ordinators, or Occupational Healthcare Personnel on-site at factories.

We face an enormous shortage of highly qualified Registered Nurses and healthcare professionals nationwide.  In these times, one struggles to find the desired quality /calibre of candidate. By this, we refer to sourcing an individual who has not only completed the academic requirements for nursing but who is also someone who has acquired through experience and time in the role, the necessary skills that are needed by the hiring company.

Most nurses are not actively seeking a new job, or their hours are so demanding that there is simply no time to submit job applications.  The role of a seasoned Recruitment Consultant is to find these “passive” individuals.  One also finds that while the more mature nurses are well-skilled and hands-on, they often lack skills in the use of new technology, like effective MS Office skills or the knowledge in the latest medical aid scheme software programmes.  Conversely, the newly qualified nurses with strong academic profiles, lack the requisite experience and tend to either rush to climb the corporate ladder, or they prefer to remain at their current employer (often the same place where they had completed their internship).

“How do we engage them then?” you may ask.  Qualified and experienced nurses often find themselves working long hours in a highly demanding role. There are a few questions that come into play when recruiting or networking for Registered Nurses. Firstly, is the hiring company offering better / flexible working hours? Secondly, is the package on offer a more competitive one? And lastly and most importantly, does the role offer a higher level of job satisfaction and safer working conditions than their current environment?  One thinks of the horror stories on the News about healthcare workers being attacked whilst attending to patients on the nightshift…

The Recruiter’s challenge when approaching a prospective applicant is to  “present” the job opportunity in such a manner that the individual sees the benefit of considering a change to their employment situation. The best way to do this is by building a good partnership with the Hiring Manager who can provide insight into and an understanding of the organisation’s culture and diversity; by  being transparent and honest about what the prospective employee can expect should they be offered the job; and presenting the client with the best selection of candidates available in the market at the time.  To source and secure that “star” candidate takes time. We receive over 50 CV’s per job requisition, of which only two or three might make it through the initial screening and selection process.  Talk about scarce skills!

In summary, our advice to the prospective applicant is to always READ the job advert carefully before applying. There’s no sense in applying for a position that you don’t qualify for. Craft your CV smartly and write a strong cover letter.  Have your phone on hand so that your Recruitment Consultant can get hold of you.  To the Hiring Manager, our request is simple.  Once we have presented that “star” candidate to you, please ACT SWIFTLY, and set up an interview.  The good ones never hang around – they are job hunting with intent.

In the end, it is deeply satisfying when your time and effort is rewarded by a successful placement.  Even more so when the candidate/client match is a meaningful one.

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