Successful Employee Recruitment: Luck Has Nothing to Do with It
By Peter Decoteau
No matter who you talk to, where they’re located, or what industry they’re in, it seems like employee recruitment has been a challenge for most businesses since COVID-19 turned the world upside down in 2020.
Much has been said about “The Great Resignation,” and while it may be true that employee preferences have shifted and that the global pandemic likely galvanized a quicker transition than most of us were prepared for, it’s also true that, given the high bar for entry and ever-growing demand for services, physical therapy was due for a recruitment reckoning long before the word “pandemic” was ever uttered.
Considering the current challenges in recruiting for physical therapists, it’s more important than ever to make sure your marketing efforts are supporting your recruitment team — after all, marketing for new patients can only ever be as successful as the number of patients you’re capable of handling. It’s also important to recognize that most recruitment and hiring efforts are long-term solutions to long-term problems; there is very rarely a “quick fix” for a lack of talent in your industry or area, or for a lack of interest in your company culture. That said, there are plenty of things you can start doing today to lay the foundation for successful recruitment in the future, and when your hiring woes are alleviated months or years down the line, you’ll know that luck had nothing to do with it.
START WITH YOUR “INTENT AUDIENCE”
In many ways, recruitment can be similar to marketing to the general public. In typical marketing efforts, your most important target audience will always be your “intent audience” — the people showing “intent” to need your product or services. This is especially true for services like physical therapy, which are based on need and not on want or impulse. In practice, that means getting in front of audiences who are searching for or being referred to physical therapy by optimizing your web presence with good search engine optimization, running search ads, building strong relationships with referrers, and optimizing your conversion funnel. In recruitment, the most obvious example of this is being active on relevant job search boards like Indeed, in your state’s APTA-affiliated chapter, and in other healthcare or physical-therapy-related groups, but that is the baseline of what you can and should be doing in your “intent-based” recruitment efforts.
- Optimize your presence: In your company profile on whichever job boards where you’re active (note: this should be more than one!), as well as on LinkedIn, make sure to have a clear and complete company profile and job overview by using search keywords that will bump your listings to the top of search results, focusing on the differentiators that make you stand out from the competition, showcasing good, diverse media assets like photos and videos and being as comprehensive as you can with information on things like benefits, culture, salary, and other advantages to joining your team — though it’s important to keep in mind that it is generally ideal to keep text under 400–500 characters. A good practice when setting up these accounts is to search through the boards as if you’re looking for a job; make a list of the elements that stand out to you in the top results and the most compelling results and use them in your own profile.
- Optimize your destination: It is almost always true that a marketing campaign is only ever as good as its destination. In this case, make sure whatever landing page or application form you’re sending prospects to — whether your own website or a third-party service — is optimized for the user experience. At the very least, keep the destination as relevant to the search as possible (for example, don’t send searches for a specific position to a generic landing page) and make it clear and easy to navigate, with plenty of obvious areas to move forward with the application process.
- Pay for top placement: Ads on job boards and LinkedIn can be hit-or-miss, especially if you haven’t completed the previous recommendations. Still, given the legal limits on advertising for recruitment, they can often be the most effective — and most cost-effective — way to cut through the clutter to reach an audience as specific as “licensed physical therapist located within 100 miles.” The best practice for running any digital campaign, particularly one as targeted as talent search, is to run small test campaigns on various platforms, with three to five variations of copy and content per platform, identify the most successful campaign(s) based on KPIs like website traffic and form submissions, and then put the rest of your budget toward what has proven to work.
BRING VALUE TO YOUR AUDIENCE
We’ve talked a lot in the past about the marketing benefits of providing engaging, valuable content and resources for your target audiences. The same is true for recruitment marketing, where prospective employees, especially those just entering the field, may not know where to start or what their career options are.
- Offer helpful information and resources: Positioning yourself as a resource of valuable information, even if it doesn’t necessarily focus on job openings in your organization, creates a level of engagement and trust that can lead to employment interest down the road. Examples of this type of content can include webinars, collections of helpful links and resources, clinical resources, and general FAQs about the physical therapy industry.
- Leverage your relationships: Most recruiters know that building relationships with groups that develop or gather talent, like schools and universities or other physical therapy member groups, is a vital part of successful recruitment. However, participating in job fairs and sharing informational materials is the bare minimum of what you can be doing, and these activities rarely offer the returns you need. Instead, much like your referral contacts, remember that relationships are a two-way street and consider what you can bring to the table (beyond pamphlets). That may mean participating in events or group sessions with sponsorships, presentations, collaborations, and other support, or it may mean offering valuable resources, such as mentorships, educational materials, career counseling, and professional development opportunities.
Leveraging the same marketing skills that you typically use to attract patients will yield additional results when utilized to attract top talent. While the industry may be experiencing record highs in available positions, positioning yourself ahead of the field will optimize your ability to stand out for those looking for an attractive home for their career.
Peter Decoteau is the Director of Marketing at Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers (PTSMC), Connecticut’s largest private practice physical therapy company. He can be reached at email@example.com.