Social media. Perhaps you use it every day or perhaps you’re not even on Facebook, the largest and most popular social media platform in the world. Regardless, if you’re a healthcare HR professional, the push for sourcing through social cannot be ignored. The HealthcareSource and ASHHRA HR Initiatives Survey results showed that 30% of the HR leaders we surveyed chose “social media for recruitment” as their top HR technology initiative for the coming year. At the recent ASPR conference in Chicago, the session on social media for recruitment was packed and seemed to be the most popular workshop at the conference.

This year’s NAHCR conference was the first time vendors held sessions on social media. I offered Twitter 101 for Recruitment at the HealthcareSource booth and many of the healthcare HR professionals I spoke with at NAHCR wanted to know – how are other organizations successfully utilizing social media for recruitment? This question inspired me to sit down with two employees from the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Washington, D.C., which is part of MedStar Health System, Brandon Tudor, Director of Admissions and Eileen Searson, Business Development and Recruitment.  A few years ago, NRH decided to merge recruitment with business development, and now they utilize social media for sourcing, specifically Twitter.  The first piece of advice from Brandon and Eileen is, “Don’t be intimidated to start using social media – just do it!”

Social media for recruitment

Going Rogue

According to Brandon, NRH ran into IT issues in the beginning. “Two years ago we attempted to use Twitter, feeding into the Facebook site, and the #1 challenge was getting ourselves access to it because we have a Firewall. So I had a choice – go through a drawn out approval process or just tap into a guest network and communicate through that. Since then we’ve alleviated policies to make it easier for Recruitment to use social media, but in the beginning, I had to go rogue a bit to make it happen.”

Eileen has some advice for persuading, “We created a Twitter account called @NRHJobs that’s just for recruiting. It’s important to keep up with the times and the great candidates are who use social media to job search. If you’re in a position to convince senior management to allow the use of social media for recruitment, show them the numbers, what competitors are doing – prove the case that there are quality candidates using Twitter.”

Brandon notes, “A lot of people are concerned about security, but when you’re talking about recruitment, we’re not as worried about patient safety. However, in a healthcare environment it’s always on our minds. So you have to get over that hurdle of understanding that using social media for sourcing has completely different purposes; it’s purely recruiting or marketing related. Therefore, you can assure them that no patient information is being communicated. As long as the messaging is pre-approved by the hospital, you can make it a nice case about showing potential candidates through social media that they should want to work for your hospital.”

What Inspired the Shift from Recruitment through HR to Business Development?

“We were struggling a bit with filling physical therapy positions,” said Brandon. “It can be the most difficult sourcing for us – even more so than nursing. A few years ago, the leaders here started toying with idea of connecting recruitment with the business development team, who also handles physician relations. We had more business than clinicians and had to do something – so business development changed from solely marketing our services to also recruiting those to provide the services. We needed to connect our process more effectively, as our recruiters internally hadn’t seen an outpatient facility. It’s hard to sell something you’ve never worked with. The challenge was marketing our services without enough clinicians to treat patients. We formally decided it made sense for business development and recruitment to partner. With the 35 outpatient facilities, the business development team is currently responsible for being in those locations and breaking the ice with the different communities and organizations. It’s been successful so now we can balance recruiting and marketing more consistently and maintain an even flow of clinicians and patients.”

When it Comes to Social Media for Sourcing, is it all about Job Postings?

To get the most out of Twitter for sourcing, it’s important to post new job opportunities. However, Eileen also uses twitter posts as positive PR for NRH and as a way to find good candidates. “I post hospital events and news articles that highlight NRH or MedStar. I’ll also re-tweet things from top related organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) since we’re trying to recruit physical therapists. By posting something from APTA , their followers, who are potential candidates, may see it. “A large part of it is connecting with community; I’ve seen Eileen have back and forth conversations with candidates on Twitter. This may seem small, but if it’s someone who just graduated and they have a dozen or so classmate followers, seeing those conversations can be very important,” said Brandon.

What if you’re not Twitter savvy?

Brandon recommends utilizing your resources – the marketing department. “If you’re not Twitter savvy, partner with marketing. They’re likely doing something like this and can help you make the case for social media. If they don’t have social media accounts yet, they will very soon because they’re already years behind.”

Making the Case for Social Media: It’s about a Good First Impression

“The new generation is really interested in working somewhere that is tech savvy; all electronic medical records and things like new innovations. Using Twitter just shows that we’re on top of things; we’re competitive. That’s what a lot of people are looking for,” said Eileen.

Brandon equates the move to social media for recruitment with the move from paper applications to electronic ones. “When NRH moved from a paper application system to an electronic one with Position Manager®, I think that was the first step in the right direction for the way we were positioning ourselves to candidates. Every piece of their initial experience with our organization shapes what we are and who we are to them. Whether it’s coming in and filling out a paper application that may take 2 hours, which I did years ago, or being on social media. A paper application is not the best way to represent your organization when most students have only ever filled out an online application. So we’re over that hump, but now if we’re only searching for candidates through print means instead of online advertising, including social media, it sends the message that we might not be current. We do it all at this point so that we capture everyone, whether they’re in their 20s or in their 50s, tech savvy or getting on a computer for the first time. But if someone can’t come in and train-up on our electronic medical records from the beginning – that’s an issue. How candidates find the job posting and how they’re going about learning about the organization can be very telling.”

Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned for part two of my conversation with Brandon and Eileen from NRH where we’ll cover creating an internal social media policy and measuring the success of your social media programs.

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About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.