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Landing Top Talent

December 31, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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CIOs must know the top secrets to recruiting the best candidates, especially in the current marketplace

Demand for Healthcare IT Professionals Will Exceed Supply!

War on Talent About to Begin in Healthcare IT!

Healthcare IT Effort to Create Thousands of New Jobs!

Currently, headlines like these are ubiquitous and unrelenting. Whether you believe the conservative estimates of 50,000 new healthcare IT-related jobs, or the more optimistic (pessimistic?) numbers that exceed 70,000-plus, there's simply no escaping the fact that you will most likely need to add new players to your healthcare IT team this year.

Generally, you can approach this often-daunting task in one of two ways: Keep the hiring process in-house, using the skills, expertise, and resources of your hospital's internal sourcing department, or enlist the help of a recruiting or executive search firm that will help you find the right people to fit your organization and needs. Both approaches certainly have their share of pros and cons, and since healthcare IT positions are highly specialized and often uncharted territory for hospital hiring managers (whose internal resources are already stretched beyond capacity), more and more hospitals are choosing to partner with search firms that specialize in sourcing and/or recruiting healthcare IT professionals.

“Asking individuals to uproot themselves and their families without any type of assistance … forces many excellent candidates to decline offers.”

If you do decide to go the external sourcing route, there certainly is no guarantee you will attract and land the “perfect” candidate, but experienced healthcare IT recruiters seem to agree that your odds will greatly improve if certain protocols are followed and courtesies are extended. Therefore, here are five secrets to landing the best candidates:

5. Offer relocation assistance - Times are tough, and hospital budgets are tight. According to recruiters, these circumstances become painfully apparent when it comes to relocation assistance, or more specifically, the lack thereof. In fact, top recruiters state that 90 percent of their hospital clients refuse to contribute anything toward the candidates' relocation expenses. “Asking individuals to uproot themselves and their families without any type of assistance, especially when you add the challenge of selling a home in this market, forces many excellent candidates to decline offers,” states Christine Kalmbach, vice president of Parker HealthcareIT (Seattle). “If a hospital can craft a fair and creative relocation package to attract candidates, they will quickly spring to the top of the list in terms of attractiveness to candidates for their regional market.”

4. Provide a concise job description - On the surface, this request seems obvious. But if you've ever had to sit down and craft a comprehensive job description, you know it's much more difficult than it appears, which is probably why this critical step is often shortchanged. The trouble is, if you don't know what or who you want, how can you expect a recruiter to know? Cherie Lester of Intellect Resources (Greensboro, N.C.) explains, “We need detailed descriptions of the responsibilities and required skill sets of the position we're recruiting for. Without them, we won't be able to find the ideal candidate.” And without the ideal candidate? You're right back where you started!

3. Provide feedback to recruiters - Have you ever been in the frustrating position of having an idea or project or promotion shot down without a hint of an explanation? Imagine, then, what it's like to be a recruiter, who, after spending countless hours and considerable resources, submits a candidate they believe to be a strong contender, and then receives no feedback whatsoever as to why their applicant was deemed unsuitable. Apparently, in the frenetic world of a typical hospital hiring manager, this scenario occurs quite frequently. Christi O'Brien, senior recruiter at Santa Rosa Consulting (Southfield, Mich.), offers this insight: “I think the single thing that sets my favorite clients apart is their willingness to keep an open dialogue. When they interview a candidate who they feel is not a good fit or review an applicant they decide to pass on, it enables me to do a much better job on their behalf if they take the time to tell me why.”

“We need detailed descriptions of the responsibilities and required skill sets … Without them, we won't be able to find the ideal candidate.”

“Expect and be happy to find an 80 percent match, perhaps offer a lower salary, and then offer training and mentoring to bring that individual up to speed.”


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Thanks for taking the time to comment. Sometimes it can be something as simple as revamping your resume and/or LinkedIn profile to make the difference between getting that initial phone call or not. I'd be happy to take a look at your materials and provide some insight, if you'd like. Please feel free to connect via LinkedIn: I'll look forward to "meeting" you!


I am a HIT professional with 17 years of experience. I am a member of CHIME, HIMSS, and even the NeHC. Multiple years of multi-million dollar HIT project management, multi-state and regional HIT responsibilities and I am an RHIA to boot...But I can not get a response from any software company, consulting firm, or hospital to any of my resumes. I continue to read and hear about this dramatic need for top talent in HIT and still nothing. I receive the same reactions from my colleagues around the country.

If this impending need is so terribly extraordinary could expand on what types of skills or credentials are in demand. Apparently, while actually completing the work suggested by this post, I seem to have missed gaining the necessary experience.