Social media. We hear about its growth and see its impact on businesses every day. While many organizations in a variety of industries have been successful in leveraging social media, healthcare has been slower to adopt this tool. Over the past several years, many hospitals and health systems have begun to gradually integrate aspects of social media into their marketing and communications strategy, and are learning to utilize these platforms as a means to generate increased awareness of the organization and/or greater traffic to its website, or as a vehicle for targeted marketing activities.
An oft-overlooked area where an organization can benefit from the use of social networking is recruitment — this despite the fact that clear demand for both staff and management positions is evident in even a cursory viewing of any healthcare facility website. A search for a “cath lab RN” position on the job board SimplyHired.com nets over 7,000 results, making it easy for both an employer and the job seeker to get lost in the numbers. Social networking has evolved into a means that provides both an employer and job seeker a more directed approach in their efforts.
Indeed, the effectiveness of social networking in recruitment for the cath lab and other hospital clinical departments where highly-skilled talent is in short supply has not been realized among the majority of healthcare organizations to the extent that it has within other industries, nor are healthcare job seekers experiencing success in their efforts to find a position through social networking platforms. In today’s healthcare landscape, where competition for talent is beyond stiff, and all types of clinical professionals are in short supply, Corazon believes social networking can be effective as one of the many tools used to aid recruitment efforts within the cardiovascular specialty.
Is your hospital leveraging social networking properly to take advantage of the recruitment benefits it has to offer? Or, if you are a job seeker, do you have a presence in the right places for a potential employer to find you?
There are three main social networks that simply cannot be ignored in any discussion of this topic. They are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (Figure 1). The use of these sites and their features is free or low-cost for both an individual user and an organization, unless a dedicated full-time employee has been hired specifically to coordinate social media efforts. These sites provide the opportunity to reach a large number of people not normally impacted with traditional media.
With user numbers this high, and the ease of reaching out to people, it is inevitable that social media has created a dramatic shift in the ways that people and organizations communicate…and this trend is not likely to change any time soon.
Social media in healthcare recruitment
U.S. hospitals’ use of social networking tools has increased exponentially, even just in the last year (Figure 2). According to an October 2011 survey, 1,229 U.S. hospitals are using some form of social networking tool, as opposed to only 600 in March of 2010, just a year and a half prior. Of those, 1,068 have Facebook pages, up from 382 in 2010; 814 have Twitter accounts, up from 470 in 2010; and 566 have LinkedIn accounts, where there were zero in 2011.1
Such statistics reveal that as these sites become increasingly popular and relevant, highly skilled job seekers in specialized fields have the ability to connect with those in areas they find the most desirable, and healthcare facilities can reach these individuals on a broader stage.
Individual healthcare professionals’ use of social networking has increased as well. In a 2011 survey of 2,790 respondents (all healthcare providers), nearly 50% report using social media for professional networking. This number grew from 37% in 2010. Of those, 31% said that they are using social media for job searching, an increase of 10% from 2010.2
With all of the hype surrounding social media, more and more people are turning to it in their job searches. In fact, 33% of registered nurses and 23% of physicians have used social media in their job search — significant numbers, considering such a platform was not available a decade ago. When asked which social media site they would use, Facebook was selected 74% of the time, while 18% selected LinkedIn.2
However, despite the increase in use of social media by both hospitals and healthcare professionals, of those surveyed, only 11% of job searches through social media resulted in a job interview, and only 6% received a job.2 Furthermore, in a second survey conducted by Pinnacle Health Group in 2011, when asked whether or not social networking sites provide a viable outlet for new job opportunities, almost 80% of the physicians surveyed said no.3
So, why all the hype? And why aren’t hospitals and healthcare providers realizing the benefits social networking can offer in a search for potential candidates?
Lessons learned from other industries
Perhaps healthcare can learn from how other industries are using social networking as it pertains to hospital recruitment and the job seeker. Facebook is the clear leader among all of the social networks in terms of number of users, and perhaps this is why so many turn to Facebook when first exploring social networking. However, a March 2012 survey seemed to indicate that the usefulness of the sites in recruitment is not at all relative to the number of users each site has. The 800+ respondents of this survey came from multiple industries, including healthcare, along with technology, finance, education, and government (to name a few). Based on the findings, LinkedIn leads recruiting usage by a staggering 87%, while only 55% use Facebook (Figure 3). In terms of job seekers, 95% report that they have successfully hired through LinkedIn.4
This is supported by a second survey from ExecutivesOnline.net, where over 1,200 executives were surveyed. LinkedIn was viewed as the most useful website for recruitment by 90% of the respondents.5
Despite these statistics either in favor or against social networking and recruitment, Corazon believes that each of the social networks discussed should have a place within both a hospital’s marketing AND recruitment strategy. While they can potentially provide access to a massive audience, it appears that LinkedIn is the leader for recruitment potential, regardless of having the lowest user numbers of the three networks. Therefore, whether a program leader seeking qualified candidates for your service line, or a cath lab professional currently ‘on the hunt’ for a new position….LinkedIn can be a successful means for finding new opportunities.
Hospitals likewise should have a presence on Facebook, as this platform provides opportunity for free promotion. It is a means to reach a number of individuals the hospital may not otherwise have reached. In terms of recruitment, employers can integrate Facebook into their search efforts by engaging their employees in the process. Some hospitals leverage the employees’ social networks by rewarding employees with referral bonuses for sharing the hospital’s message with their network. For example, if a company has 300 employees active on social networking sites, and each employee has 100 contacts, then the employer has increased the network it can potentially reach to 30,000. With a Facebook page, an employer can promote the culture of the organization and provide an area where job openings can be seen by potential candidates.
One limitation, however, is that Facebook allows for a relatively passive approach to recruitment — there is no easy way to actively search for potential candidates by title or background. Also, Facebook is still viewed as private networking by most users, who focus on mostly personal connections, rather than professional ones. For the most part, Facebook requires that at least initially, the potential job seeker comes to you as opposed to you being able to reach out to them. As a job seeker using Facebook, you are, in turn, required to take a more aggressive approach in your job search and reach out to potential employers, because the employers don’t have the ability to easily seek out and reach you.
Like Facebook, Twitter allows both employers and job seekers to reach a network not necessarily available otherwise. A hospital can “Tweet” its jobs, with the potential for exposure to a huge pool of candidates. Twitter does allow you to search for individuals using key words, and by doing so you may be able to identify and reach out to individuals who could end up being qualified candidates. However, Twitter is used by many individuals and organizations with a multitude of interests and intentions, and a keyword search for a title or credential often leads to a plethora of tweets and topics from individuals completely unrelated to what you are looking for. Twitter allows a hospital to get its information and job openings out there, but again, is, in general, a more passive method of reaching candidates, because your Tweets would have to come up in a candidates’ search or the candidate must have elected to follow your organization to receive your tweets. For the job seeker, you can sign up to follow the Tweets of potential employers or can Tweet to potential employers and/or your followers that you’re looking for a job, but with only 140 characters to tell them about yourself, it is probably not the best option.
LinkedIn’s primary function is to connect professionals, and the majority of users focus on the professional aspect of the site’s options. LinkedIn allows both employers and job seekers to find individuals or to join groups related to a specific area. You can search for an individual by name, title, or using terms related to their industry, and can “connect” with them, bringing them into your network.
There are multiple groups related to physicians and healthcare, and becoming a member of a group allows you to network with the group members. For instance, you can post an open cath lab position, which will be visible to people connected to you, and within the groups you have joined, which makes it visible to its members. Contrary to abilities within Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is more recruitment-friendly in that it allows you to actively search for specific qualifications, such as “cath lab”, “RN”, “manager”, and so on, and contact prospective candidates through the site.
On the other hand, as a job seeker, you have the option to include professional experience on your LinkedIn profile, so potential employers or recruiters can actually seek you out by your experience when they are looking to find candidates for their available positions. As a cath lab professional, including your relevant experience, current credentials, and other skills, can make your profile more “searchable” and therefore more accessible to potential employers.
As hospitals and healthcare providers begin to adopt and explore different methods of social networking and how to utilize these means as an effective recruiting aid, there is certainly value to be found in the variety of ways to use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, as witnessed in other industries, both hospitals and healthcare job seekers may find more success in directing their recruitment and job seeking efforts through LinkedIn, as it allows both employers and job seekers to take a more active approach in their search for the right candidate or job.
As with any recruitment effort, attention must be paid to finding qualified candidates that are a good fit for the open position. Any tools that aid in that effort deserve consideration for the value they can bring.
Jennifer is a consultant with Corazon, Inc., offering strategic program development for the heart, vascular, neuro, and ortho specialties, as well as consulting, recruitment, interim management and physician practice and alignment services for clients across the US and in Canada. To learn more, visit www.corazoninc.com or call (412) 364-8200. To reach Jennifer, email email@example.com.
- Bennet E. Hospital social network and data charts. Found in cache. Available online at http://ebennett.org/hsnl/data/. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- AMN Healthcare. Use of social media and mobile by healthcare professionals, 2011 survey results. Available online at http://www.amnhealthcare.com/uploadedFiles/AMNHealthcare/Industry-Research/Surveys/2011%20Social%20Media%20Survey%20FINAL%20LR%2003-2012(2).pdf. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Pinnacle Health Group. Physician online communication trends from PHG’s quick poll on social networking. Posted August 17, 2011. Available online at http://pinnaclehealthgroup.com/?p=535. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Jobvite. Jobvite 2011 social recruiting survey results. Available online at http://recruiting.jobvite.com/resources/social-recruiting-survey.php. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Micvadam’s blog: making social media policies easy. Not getting recruited via social networking? Do not worry, you are not alone. Available online at http://micvadam.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/not-getting-recruited-via-social-networking-do-not-worry-you-are-not-alone/. Accessed May 24, 2012.