Healthcare Recruiter and Candidate Boot Camp: Communication 101

Healthcare Recruiter and Candidate Boot Camp: Communication 101 was originally published on Hospital Recruiting.

Kids play "telephone" symbolizing communication problems that can occur during a job search or hiring effort
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We all played this game as kids: a short phrase is whispered from one person to the next. The last person says the phrase as she or he understood it. And the end message? It bears no resemblance to the phrase that started the game. Miscommunication between recruiters and candidates can sometimes feel like the whisper game. Picture a recruiter who spoke once with a hot prospect and then emailed and texted her over this past week.  After further vetting, the recruiter determines the candidate is not a fit and moves her off her priority action list. The recruiter doesn’t relay this decision to the candidate for days or even weeks. From the candidate’s perspective, constant contact and access to a promising job opportunity suddenly turns into ghosting. Best practices in communication between recruiters and candidates boils down to basic rules of civility. Recruiters should implement and model these best practices in workforce communication with and for new candidates.

Phone It In – Or Not!

Social media messaging platforms have made real-time communication easy. But these platforms don’t convey nuance and tone, and important verbal cues go to the wayside. There’s nothing worse than falling down an email-thread rabbit hole when a phone call can provide answers in three minutes. Recruiters, open up lines of communication while introducing yourself and your hospital through a brief but thoughtful phone call. Messaging platforms are great for coordinating plans for a call or Zoom for sharing quick feedback or brief follow-up and next steps. If you’re comfortable working with social media platforms, you can defer to the candidate on which one he or she prefers you use. With COVID-19, it is possible that for the candidate and recruitment team safety, interview and site visits may need to be handled virtually via Zoom or similar platforms.

Email Hacks

Recruiters, you are slammed at work and could use some life hacks. Frequently used email phrases can be set up in Outlook as “Quick Parts,” making candidate contact quick and easy. Gmail has a similar option called “Canned Responses.” Too often a hot candidate goes cold because there are days between her/his outreach to you and yours back. No excuses for missed connections with a candidate match! Candidates, you can also use these tools to provide a quick response like “Please remove me from consideration as needs have changed.” Better to send a quick email than avoiding phone calls, texts, or emails from a recruiter with whom you have been in contact. Ideally if a candidate has gone far down the path of considering an opportunity, a phone call or at the very least a thoughtful “thank you/no thank you” email would be appropriate.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Recent data from an American Medical Association (AMA) survey shows that close to half of physicians ending residency received at least one hundred unsolicited calls, texts and other outreach related to employment opportunities. If you are a candidate, expect this outreach to start in your intern year. Don’t feel guilted into responding to these pitches. Savvy candidates set up a job opportunity email address, so they don’t drown in recruiter pitches to their personal or work email. Make sure to use that email address on your CV. With a dedicated opportunity email, candidates can quickly review opportunities in one place and determine next steps.

For recruiters, the scattershot communication approach highlighted by AMA is mostly ineffective. It may result in unfavorable internet reviews and negative communication about your organization, including negative social media posts. Recruiters should make initial candidate contact during normal business hours. Once you begin a dialogue, request the best times to call and be flexible with availability whenever possible, especially considering COVID-19 impacts to healthcare workers and schedules. If the candidate would prefer one platform over another to communicate, be adaptable.

The Good, the Bad, and the Left Out

Both candidates and recruiters bring personal views and biases to the interview process. Don’t overlook or misrepresent negative, vague or missing information that will eventually be disclosed or discovered. Candidates who’ve been practicing for a while and have made numerous position changes for short term stints should be prepared to talk about that. Mentioning that you have a military spouse and have made some moves is explanation enough. Recruiters, if your placement opportunity is for a floater or locums’ positions, job changes may not raise a red flag. Recruiters should be forthcoming when presenting opportunities and be prepared to discuss any challenges. Mentioning the ways in which those challenges are currently being addressed will go a long way in building trust and rapport.

The Devil’s in the Details

What message is being communicated if a recruiter leaves most of candidate relations and communication to a gatekeeper? Details are critical to recruiter/candidate communication. This means that the recruiter should be heavily involved in candidate communications. New candidates, this goes for you, too. Despite your best intentions, having your spouse or partner contact a recruiter about a job opportunity may wind up frustrating the recruiter and the process. Unless your spouse is well-versed in your clinical expertise, expectations, and workplace culture needs, there will be miscommunications. At the very least, the spouse will come away from the call with a new list of questions to get answered by the candidate. From the recruiter’s perspective, the candidate will appear uninterested if she or he puts a spouse in charge of vetting opportunities and looking for a match. There are times when it’s appropriate for a recruiter to talk with a spouse or partner. The start of the candidate/recruiter relationship is not typically one of those times.

Recruiter/candidate miscommunication is usually due to shifts in priorities, inattention to detail, or adding a third person into the lines of communication. Most of the time miscommunication is not intentionally hurtful or rude. What are the takeaways for recruiters and candidates? Clear communication travels directly between two people. Use the right communication tools at the right time. Finally, your method of communication should help – not hinder – the context and intent of your message.