My Yellow Brick Road: Recruiting
My first recruiting job was for a healthcare executive search firm that specialized in those “difficult-to-fill” Manager and Director level positions. We also thought we had the market cornered on providing the best search service; kind of like the yellow brick road being the only way to the great and powerful Oz – which in turn was the only way home. We now know the ruby slippers were better than any hot air balloon. Everyone thinks their service is the best, everyone thinks their method is tops. Confidence is key not only when garnering new clients, but also retaining old ones.
Old School Recruiting
Many years ago, I met Greg Rokos (founder of GreenJobInterview) at a California-specific healthcare human resource conference. At that time, he was the President of The Rokos Group, another executive search firm in the healthcare space. Following our meeting, he kindly referred a VP of HR to me, she was seeking a Manager of Oncology at a large healthcare district in California’s Central Valley. “Difficult-to-Fill?” – you better believe it. The weather was desert-like, the pay was on the low side – but so was the cost of living and due to the geographic limitations, the air quality was extremely poor. We would have to find someone to relocate to the state as, at that time, no one in California would take the job. Trust me, I called every Oncology Manager in the state three to five times.
This was before the onset of all things social and pre-LinkedIn. I was kicking it Old School – I can’t even write that without smirking. Old School was cold calling. I had an inch-thick search record that listed every hospital in the state. And I had other states, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Idaho, and many, many more (all with similar housing proces and climate.) We had promised a field of candidates in four to six weeks. It was thirteen months later when we delivered the right candidate, the one who took the job. She had been found as the result of calling every oncology department in Utah several times. Needless to say, I was tired. Luckily, our client knew it was going to be a difficult search, and we never gave up. But boy, did I want to.
Tenacity Was the Key
I cringed whenever the Managing Director asked for an update. It physically hurt for me to say “No new candidates.” In this case, the power of positive thinking – of which I had plenty – just wasn’t enough. Sometimes, tenacity and never-giving-up fills in the gaps where positive thinking fails. Hard work. Persistence. Resolve and good, old-fashioned elbow grease. By the end of every single day, my head really hurt. I can remember one time when my ex-husband said to me, “I wish I could sit around and talk on the phone all day, hard work? Yeah, right.” I wanted to punch him in the face. Right in the face.
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Never Give Up
There were no ruby slippers for this one and I would have gladly melted a witch and brought back her stub of a broomstick had I thought it would have yielded a worthy field of candidates. The closest thing I had to clicking heels was a new dial tone every three to five minutes and “Can you transfer me to Oncology?” What did I learn? Never give up. It has served me well over the years.
The best lessons are usually the most difficult learned.
Some projects become more protracted than others. Given the consistent nursing shortage over the last 20 years, this is especially true in healthcare recruiting. Our stick-to-it-iveness is why we were retained as their search firm of choice for the five years that followed. Times change though, as do techniques. The advent of digital recruitment and sites like LinkedIn have aided the filtering and communication process considerably.
And sadly, with fewer universities offering nursing programs, the nursing shortage is sure to continue.
However, my #1 rule will always stay the same: Never Give Up. Never.
by Rayanne Thorn