How do you attract and retain top talent in a competitive job market?

Oct 17, 2017 · 5 min read

Terri Newmier is Director of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning for Marshfield Clinic Health System.

To all the HR professionals struggling to recruit qualified candidates and fill open positions with the right people, realize you’re not alone. Here at Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS), we’re certainly experiencing the competitive job market firsthand. Recruiting for health care can be particularly challenging as there are many organizations around Wisconsin and the Midwest vying for talented workers.

Our talent acquisition team, consisting of 12 recruiters as well as human resources assistants, has learned a lot about how to identify, hire and retain the right people for a wide variety of roles ranging from health care professionals to food service and housekeeping.

Here’s some essential advice for finding and keeping talented employees in the digital age.

Raise awareness

The first thing you need to do is make sure people know what your company does and what it stands for. At MCHS, we want people to see our name and have a positive connection. In some cases, job candidates don’t realize all the great things we do here, including the technology we have and the size of our organization.

We use different channels when reaching out to job candidates and consider generational differences, personal preferences and whether or not those people are actually looking for a job. MCHS gets the word out on multiple platforms so people see our open positions in different ways.

We host and attend job fairs and partner with college campuses so we can speak to students about the opportunities awaiting them when they graduate while giving them a better understanding of MCHS. This helps us build relationships with potential employees early on.

It doesn’t hurt to do a bit of newspaper advertising, but we find our team gets better results from online job boards, both niche industry sites and comprehensive services like Indeed or CareerBuilder. Employee referrals are always valuable to our process as well.

Online outreach has become an integral part of the process. Last year, we launched a major effort to attract nurses to MCHS, and our digital recruitment strategy was very beneficial. For instance, it helped us reach people in geographic areas where there are nursing schools with qualified candidates we may not have reached with a more traditional approach.

Target the right people with clear communication

Our team is very careful about how we advertise jobs. We take a targeted approach to recruitment, and digital tools such as social media, Google ads and online job boards are useful in that respect.

However, we also use groups and associations that can lead us to job candidates with the right experience and certifications for specific roles. We make sure to connect with groups outside of the health care industry, because we have hiring needs for professional duties such as information technology and accounting as well.

You must know where the good candidates are. For some positions, people can easily be found locally, and you can work with job centers in your area to share openings. For other positions, broaden your search and anticipate that top candidates may have to relocate.

Make it quick and easy for job seekers to get all the important details about your openings. Don’t force people to visit several web pages to get the information they need. Your job ads should be interesting enough to entice them to learn more. Then, send them to an online resource, like a landing page, where they’ll get the answers they need to decide if the position is right for them.

Focus on what matters to job candidates

Job seekers look for many things when it comes to the ideal employer, but every candidate wants to understand your organization’s culture before they’re hired. You should display and describe the kind of work environment, beliefs, and daily experiences they’ll encounter if they receive an offer.

The Millennial generation, in particular, wants to feel as if they are making a difference. They need to know their work is making an impact and contributing to the company’s success. They also want to be able give back in meaningful ways. So, talk to them about how your company serves the surrounding community and highlight volunteering opportunities.

One of the major trends in employee perks right now is flexibility. That could mean remote work locations or flexible hours. Maintaining a good work-life balance is important to many job candidates

Paid time off (PTO) is often one of the first things job candidates ask about. Don’t let that be a turn-off during recruitment. We find that people who care about PTO benefits and flexibility really put their heart into their work. So, we’re not really sacrificing anything by allowing flexibility, we’re creating happier employees and people who are more dedicated, because we are an employer that is committed to their wellbeing.

Candidates really appreciate the benefits MCHS offers. That includes retirement benefits and good employer-provided health insurance. Many new hires come from places where they haven’t had reliable health care coverage, and they find it to be essential. Robust benefits coverage provides security, and it is a big selling point as part of our recruitment efforts.

Keep your best people

While recruitment is the first step, retention is key. Your top talent is a resource you don’t want to lose. From the start, you should discuss what promotion opportunities are available, what drives that person, what projects would interest them and what other types of advancement exist in your company.

This helps people understand that while they may start in a certain position, there’s the potential for a successful career with your company … not just a job.

You need new employees to connect with your organization, but they also need to feel at home within the surrounding community. Highlight what the community has to offer for spouses and what resources are available for children.

People who move here from other places around the country are often enthralled by Wisconsin’s beauty and what the state offers in terms of commerce and recreation. It’s not just selling the job. You’re selling a package deal to potential employees.

A few years ago, we were requiring every job candidate to fill out an application before speaking with a recruiter. But, more recently, we’ve found it’s helpful to talk to candidates prior to that step to learn more about them. We’re taking a proactive approach to recruiting by inviting prospects to have these conversations with us earlier in the application process.

Treat candidates as more than just a number or a résumé. Choosing a new job is a major life change. It’s worth taking the time to get to know who these people are and what they want out of this career move.

It all goes back to having a deeper understanding of your candidate and what makes them tick.

More recruiting advice from HR-Playbook:

· Download our eBook on Gen-Z in the Workplace

· View the Employee Perks Infographic

· Read our review of popular job boards



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HR-Playbook provides insights and advice to make life easier for human resources professionals in Wisconsin managing group benefits for their employers. Visit our sponsor: to find out about health insurance options.

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