Written by Carla Gold, Managing Director, Lean Human Capital


While 2020 might seem like it is far in the rearview, recruitment teams continue having to pivot in response to their organizations’ changing needs. Many health systems have experienced needing to increase applicant flow due to rising hiring requests – but without adequate talent acquisition resources.

Lean Human Capital (LHC) has studied the performance of more than 1,200 health systems since the inception of our national healthcare recruitment metrics benchmark study 12+ years ago. In response to COVID, we conducted a mid-year survey last August that highlighted the reality: one-third of health systems experienced furloughs or layoffs with slowed hiring. With 75% of organizations electing to cancel or place positions on hold, the backlog of vacancies and the bottleneck in recruitment processes have significantly impacted hiring speed and talent pools.

One consistent top challenge we’ve heard organizations share over the past 12 months is the decrease in applications. Without quality applicant pools, unfilled positions remain open and incur daily costs due to overtime and/or agency spend, which can be staggering to the business. In our research on health system recruitment efficiency, the application-to-hire ratio dropped 35% between 2014-2020. The pandemic worsened this downward trend.

If your healthcare organization needs to increase applicant flow, consider these four tips to better attract qualified candidates.

  • Address bottlenecks. Is it taking more than six days to review your incoming applications? In LHC’s Recruitment Cycle Time Study, a candidate’s median screening wait time is six days, with top quartile performance at two days. If you have not prioritized screening and prequalifying incoming applicants, you’re likely losing quality talent to competitors acting quicker than you, or loss of interest because of the lengthy process without communication. Remove any barriers at the top of the funnel that prevents you from screening incoming applications in two days or less for critical, difficult-to-fill roles – and engage them quickly to sell them on your opportunity.
  • Take advantage of your existing database. Your richest talent pool is right at your fingertips. If you’ve had your ATS for more than a couple years, you likely have hundreds of thousands of applicants who, at one time, expressed interest in working for you. This is your goldmine. A new grad RN who wasn’t hired three years ago may be a seasoned ICU nurse today, and the timing may be right for a job move. Assign someone on your team to start calling on the leads you already have.
  • Marry sourcing and recruitment marketing. These two hiring strategies go hand-in-hand. To be successful today, you’ll need to use modern methods to find talent. This includes ways to target those who are not active in the job market, as well as deploying ongoing campaigns and events to grow talent pipelines. According to our 2021 healthcare recruitment metrics benchmarking report, LHC community member organizations with recruitment marketing programs fill positions eight days faster. If you’re still posting and praying, the answer is to invest in sourcing and recruitment marketing strategies.
  • Analyze whether a candidate’s experiences is optimal. If you’re not measuring the experience of your key customer – the candidate – you’re missing the opportunity to identify gaps that impact applicant volumes and potentially your brand. Your applicants’ perception of their experience with the overall application/recruiting process can turn them away. LHC’s Voice of the Customer Survey benchmarks reinforces this: candidates with a negative experience during their application/recruitment process are three times less likely to reapply, five times less likely to refer others to you and twice as likely to share that negative experience with others. Ultimately a poor candidate experience could impact your business if a percentage of those dissatisfied candidates decide to choose another organization over yours for their healthcare needs. If you don’t know how your candidates – those hired and those NOT hired – feel about their recruitment experience with you, we recommend you find out.

To learn more about how Lean Human Capital can help your organization address recruitment operations challenges or gaps, click here.

About Lean Human Capital

Lean Human Capital by HealthcareSource delivers a radical approach to healthcare recruitment analysis, process optimization, and continuous improvement. By rationalizing your staffing supply chain, we help you create a proactive, efficient hiring strategy that will dramatically reduce time-to-fill and vacancy rates, improve quality-of-hire and customer satisfaction, and reduce cost and waste.