Guest Columns

What is your plan to catch Bigfoot?

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Neil Hefta, Vice President of Govig Healthcare Group
Neil Hefta, Vice President of Govig Healthcare Group

The shrinking workforce has created a “Bigfoot Phenomenon” in the recruitment process of top directors of nursing in the long-term care industry.

As a past administrator and a current long-term care recruiter, I talk to talented nurses, but it has become more and more difficult to locate and attract them to your facility. Like Bigfoot, when you find a quality director of nursing candidate, you need to have the right game plan to bring them on board or risk losing them to the vast wilderness of opportunities.

Here are a few of tips on what to do when starting that DON search and how to find that elusive Bigfoot:

•  Respond in a timely manner to candidates who apply to your position openings. Nursing candidates much like Bigfoot are quick and elusive, and if they don't know you're interested they will move on to the next opportunity.

The best advice I can provide here is to have a lead person at the facility that quarterbacks the intake of resumes and provides prompt feedback to all candidate applications and referrals.  This will give the candidates the feeling that you're attentive to their needs and at the very least they will appreciate the note that their resume was received.

If you don't have a plan to follow-up with applicants within 24 hours, you could lose out on top candidates to your competitors in the marketplace. I know from experience this happens frequently in the search business. Candidates apply to a role and companies don't get back with them in time and they already have an offer and acceptance from another organization.

Prior to starting your search, ensure your hiring strategy includes timely follow-up with applicants.  

•  Have a game plan and consistent message for your hiring process. We often hear from administrators that they have multiple team members involved in the interview process, but during the interviews, we learn that each employee has a different interpretation of the role and the company culture.

Bigfoot will make the assessment that an inconsistent hiring process and confusing message is a microcosm of how the facility is run. The staff who are conducting the interviews for the position should have clear expectations of the role and should know how to sell your company's story and culture.

Inconsistency causes confusion for the candidate. Be consistent in the message throughout the interviewing process and you will have better opportunity to land that Sasquatch.

•  Be prepared to make timely decisions on candidates who are interviewing. Hiring managers often have a difficult time in deciding whether or not to move forward with an offer. I call this “analysis paralysis” and being too picky in selecting the best candidate. Ensuring you have a plan to keep the candidates engaged will increase your probability of getting a successful hire.  

One way to avoid the “analysis paralysis” is to have a talent scorecard, on the key areas of what you are looking for in a candidate from a technical and cultural perspective. If everyone has the scorecard, it will help make the final decision for your team. Sometimes our expectations to find the perfect candidate are not realistic. If you want to hire top-notch candidates, the best strategy is to move cautiously but expeditiously throughout the hiring process. Remember that Bigfoot doesn't like to wait around.

•  Hiring is a great way to build your brand within the marketplace. This is an area that often gets overlooked with companies. You should always be working on building your brand, whether it's through direct marketing or your interviewing strategy.

You want to ensure that all candidates who interact with your company have a positive experience. The community is small, so you don't want negative impressions of your organization floating around in the marketplace.

Building a solid brand will help to ensure that the most elusive candidates will be interested in learning more about your organization.

To land the Bigfoot candidate, you must have a concise action plan to make a great hire, be consistent with your message as an organization, continue to build your brand with each job opening, and make sure you move efficiently through the interviewing process to gain that competitive advantage. With this game plan, you can expect more Sasquatch sightings and hires. Best of luck!

Neil Hefta, the vice president of Govig Healthcare Group, has been with Govig & Associates as an executive recruiter specializing in post-acute care since 1998. He focuses on listening to clients' recruitment needs, presenting them with A-level talent nationwide, and overseeing a successful hiring process.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.