In 2010, Duke Health made a decision: no more advertising nursing jobs in print. “When I first started in recruitment, we advertised our open positions in specialty publications, newspapers and print journals,” said Sylvia Alston, who has served as Duke Health’s assistant vice president of nursing recruitment, retention and supplemental staffing for 13 years.
Now, the health system focuses on social media, email marketing and “optimizing” the website, she said. Online marketing for recruitment helped the system recruit in areas where more nurses were looking for jobs, and let them track analytics on what possible applicants they were reaching. It was also part of their strategy to recruit at the system level by specialty, rather than by facility.
Yet, even with this shift, the Durham, N.C.-based health system hasn’t overcome all its challenges. As a health system in the South, a region that’s been hit by nursing shortages, Duke has faced issues recruiting nurses to fill its staffing needs, and has found it particularly challenging to recruit experienced specialty nurses for the operating room and critical care.
But with much of the recruitment process online, Alston said Duke has learned to make better use of analytics to improve its odds of finding the right fit with its nursing hires.
Now, when Duke posts a nursing opening online, it can track the number of hits and candidates who begin the application process. From there, staff can also assess how long it takes candidates to fill out various steps of the application process, as well as how many stop in the middle of the process—and if so, where.
Many “candidates drop off within the first minute of the process,” Alston added.
Those insights can help the health system ease the application process.
One tidbit Duke learned from studying the way candidates behave on its website is that many were filling out applications using smartphones or tablets, even though the website had been designed for those using a desktop. To make the experience more enjoyable, Duke revamped its online applications—making it easier to attach a resume from the cloud, for example.
Social media has played a growing role in Emory University Hospital’s recruitment strategy, too.
Nancye Feistritzer, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, said the hospital has felt the constraints of the nursing shortage, particularly because Atlanta is “rapidly growing.” She added that the hospital has roughly 80 open clinical nurse positions, and recently added more inpatient beds and operating rooms.
Social media and job recruitment platforms have become major sources of information for nurses looking for jobs, according to Feistritzer, making them an “opportunity for us to communicate who we are and what kind of environment we are.” Earlier this year, Emory Healthcare created a promotional YouTube video with nurses speaking about their jobs, which it posts to social media sites to promote its nursing program.