Three Simple Recruitment Tips

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By Kelly Smith

The strong demand for healthcare professionals continues at full throttle, leaving some department managers and their skeletal crews gasping for air. The longer the position remains open, the shorter the patience of your staff.

As a staffing expert, with over 15 years experience both as an in-house and agency recruiter, I've learned there are three simple things that will strengthen your recruitment efforts.

1. Build a searchable database

Gather up all resumes/applications and enter the information into a database that allows you to retrieve your data via a keyword search. For instance, if you want to view all your candidates who are orthotists, just type in "orthotist" in the keyword search field and hit "enter" on your keypad. The database will bring up how many orthotists you have available to contact. You can search by area code, education level, specialized skills, or any field that you have designed in your database for searching.

Two very simple and inexpensive methods for implementing and designing a database are: Access from Microsoft (you may already have it on your PC!) and ACT, a software package that you can buy at your local computer store for an average of $250. For additional information on ACT, go to I encourage you not to pay for software that needs to be maintained by the vendor, because this can become a costly and frustrating venture.

I recommend keeping hard copies of your data for up to five years. I also recommend never deleting information entered into the database unless a candidate is deceased, and even then, I would make sure the reference data is transferred and saved. This brings me to recruitment tip #2.

2. Contact references

When candidates come in to interview, be sure to have them fill out an application that includes a section to list references. Encourage applicants to provide references for both whom they report to and other co-workers that they have worked/are working with.

Call each industry reference that the candidate approves for you to contact. Even if you have no interest in the candidate, call the references anyway. Ask a few pointed reference questions, and at the end of your conversation ask if they would mind if you add them to your newsletter list. Get their e-mail address and their home address and ask by which method they prefer to receive the newsletter. In your database, create a field where you can indicate the preferred method the candidate has chosen for receiving the newsletter (notice how the reference has just turned into a candidate).

After you have contacted references, be sure to send them an e-mail or letter thanking them for their time and the reference. The sentence can be as simple as, "On behalf of candidate's name and your institution, I would like to thank you for taking the time to be a reference. Enclosed you will find my business card. Please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions, concerns, or issues of interest."

With your searchable database and a list of prospective candidates, you are now ready for simple recruitment tip #3.

3. Contact the entire database periodically

For those candidates who provided e-mail addresses, create a group e-mail address. A group e-mail address allows you to reach a large number of contacts without spending valuable time and money. For the candidates that do not have e-mail addresses, search them out via the keyword search and send them a newsletter via US postal mail.

The newsletter is a professional and logical reason for keeping in contact with your candidates. Make it easy on yourself and send out the newsletter just every three months. The newsletter need only be one page in length and can be put together rather quickly by including the following data: industry updates, your departmental accomplishments, and current job openings. You can personalize the letter with an introduction such as, "From the desk of your name and title." Always be sure to include your full contact information.

Employ these three easy recruitment tips, and you'll soon be hearing sighs of relief as your positions are filled in a timely manner.

Kelly Smith is a human resources recruiter and senior staffing specialist. She can be contacted at: