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March 15, 2024

What Is Talent Acquisition? A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide

by Morris Isaacson

Attracting skilled professionals isn’t easy. In November 2023, there were 1.7 million job openings in health care and social assistance, with only 779,000 jobs filled. Retaining top talent isn’t simple, either. 2022 saw turnover rates rise to 65% for at-home care providers and 94% at nursing homes. 

Although there’s no quick fix to this problem, effective talent acquisition is a good place to start. 

By the end of this article, you’ll understand the ins and outs of the talent acquisition process, including some of our top tips for success. First, let’s clarify what talent acquisition is and how it works. 

What is talent acquisition? A simple definition

Talent acquisition is a strategic approach to acquiring and managing talent. It involves attracting, recruiting, onboarding and retaining people who contribute to the success and growth of your healthcare facility. 

 

There are three main pillars of talent acquisition:

Attraction
Create strategies to attract and appeal to your ideal candidates. Build a strong candidate pipeline by developing a positive perception of your employer brand, identifying the right methods of talent outreach and engaging with potential candidates. 
Selection
Identify and hire the most suitable candidates for your healthcare organization by creating a simple but effective hiring process. For example, post job openings to multiple platforms at once (and in different languages where necessary). Interview and assess candidates to ensure the right skills, qualifications and cultural fit for your organization. 
Attrition
Manage the departure of employees from your organization to understand the reasons behind employee turnover and to identify ways to increase retention in the future. Have a plan in place to replace key employees if they leave unexpectedly, mitigating disruption and ensuring the replacement is the right fit for your facility.
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Talent acquisition vs. recruitment: What’s the difference?

People often use talent acquisition and recruitment interchangeably, but they’re not the same:

Talent acquisition is long-term.

It’s a strategic process to find highly qualified employees for hard-to-fill roles and anticipate future staffing needs.

Recruitment is short-term.

It focuses more on the operational task of reactively filling vacancies quickly.

For example, if a nurse leaves your care facility, a talent acquisition strategy provides you with the processes to hire the best possible replacement for long-term success and to prevent regular turnover. 

With recruitment, you’re more focused on short-term goals. You won’t have a strategy to ensure the new hire is a good fit for your facility’s growth and development. 

Why is talent acquisition important in healthcare?

From long-term care facilities to nursing homes, here are various reasons talent acquisition is important for healthcare organizations:

  • To find the right talent to match patients' needs.

    Talent acquisition allows companies to source staff who are a great match to patients, including their personalities. It allows you to identify and build relationships with potential candidates based on more than their skills. 

  • To ensure cultural fit and alignment.

    Collaboration and teamwork are crucial in healthcare facilities. Talent acquisition considers cultural fit and alignment with values, creating a cohesive healthcare team that delivers the best possible patient care.

  • To increase retention.

    Talent acquisition isn’t just about hiring the right people for your organization. It’s also about ensuring your organization is the right place for new hires. By focusing on hiring the right people for your long-term goals, you have a better chance of reducing turnover and increasing retention. 

  • To diversify the workforce.

    With an inclusive talent acquisition strategy, you can actively seek candidates from different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, genders and abilities to build a strong, diverse workforce. 

  • To minimize hiring costs.

    Reduce hiring costs by spending time and resources filling frequent vacancies. You can also save money on training costs as you'll hire the best of the best. 

  • To plan for succession.

    Talent acquisition focuses on the long-term, meaning you’re hiring employees who have the potential to grow within the company. As key roles become available, these employees can slot into these positions.

A step-by-step guide to the talent acquisition process

Follow these steps to create a successful talent acquisition strategy for your healthcare facility.

1. Perform an organization needs analysis

Start by highlighting any skill gaps or problems in your healthcare facility to identify and assess your current and future talent needs. The analysis works as follows: 

  • Collect data. Gather data to analyze the current performance of your facility. Data includes employee and patient surveys, interviews, focus groups, performance reviews and observations.
  • Identify performance gaps. Analyze the data to identify gaps between where you are now and where you want to be and, most importantly, what skills your team is missing to get there. 
  • Create a plan of action. Make an action plan outlining the steps, resources, skills and time needed to fill the performance gaps and improve your healthcare facility. 

Performing this analysis helps you understand the skills, competencies and roles that will make your healthcare facility more productive and efficient.

2. Review the 4 B method

The 4 B method – Build, Buy, Borrow and Bridge – is a framework for solving talent challenges. It determines what type of talent acquisition avenue to follow based on your organizational needs analysis findings.

 

 

Here’s how it works:

  • Build. Develop internal employees to grow into roles that align with organizational needs. For example, running training programs or skill-building initiatives. 
  • Buy. Hire external talent to meet a requirement, like hiring nursing staff with specific medical skills and qualifications to deliver a particular type of patient care. 
  • Bridge. Fill talent gaps by partnering with other organizations or educational institutions to share resources and expertise. 
  • Borrow. An interim hire to fill a temporary need, including contractors or consultants with the required skills and experience. 
3. Create a job description

Develop detailed and compelling job descriptions to attract top-quality candidates. The more authentic and detailed your job description is, the better your chance of attracting people who match your ideal candidate profile without wasting your time. 

Consider these areas when creating job descriptions: 

  • Outline core responsibilities. Define the key responsibilities so applicants can quickly see what the job entails. This will help them decide whether they’re right for the role, encouraging more suited applicants to apply. 
  • Determine the required qualifications and experience. If applicable, ensure all candidates understand the qualifications and professional experience required for the role by listing them in the job description. This will help you set clear requirements for the role and make it easier to sift through those who aren’t qualified. 
  • State your expectations. Outline your expectations for the role, such as working hours, location preferences, schedules etc. As a result, you’ll find it easier to find potential employees that suit your needs.
  • Describe your company culture. Job descriptions shouldn’t just state what you require but also what you can offer employees. Outline your company culture to attract candidates that align with your values and fit well with your company.
4. Search for top candidates

Actively search for potential employees that match the job role through various channels — including job boards, social media, professional networks, industry events and employee referrals.

When searching for talent, there are two types of candidates to be aware of that you can attract: 

  • Active candidates. People who are looking for new roles. These candidates are typically active on networking sites (like LinkedIn), submitting applications or engaging with job boards.
  • Passive candidates. People who aren’t actively seeking new opportunities but may be intrigued by the right opportunity. You can find passive candidates online, at networking events or through recommendations.

Searching for people within these two groups helps you build a wider, more diverse talent pool of candidates that meet your requirements. 

5. Review applications

Implement an efficient application process—with screening mechanisms to determine suitability—to evaluate candidates. This helps you narrow down the applicant pool to candidates suited to the role and align with your talent acquisition goals. 

An applicant tracking system (ATS) can help you manage this process, allowing you to oversee applications, screen candidates and track applicant progress. It makes the process more efficient, ensuring you’re shortlisting applicants with the right skills and experience for the role.

6. Create a talent map

If you have candidates who don’t quite suit the role but have the skills and cultural fit that aligns with your facility, you may want to hire them in the future for another position. With talent mapping, you can keep their contact details on file should the position become available. 

Using this framework helps you build and maintain a strong talent pipeline, ensuring you have a pool of qualified candidates ready for future needs.

Here’s an example of how a talent map works:

 

7. Interview and assess potential hires

Conduct interviews and assessments to evaluate candidates’ skills and cultural fit with your organizational needs. Here are some ways to interview and evaluate candidates: 

  • Phone interview. An initial phone call where you can explain more about the role and get a feel for whether the candidate is a good fit for the position. Find out their background, experience and why they applied for the position to determine whether to proceed with their application. 
  • Face-to-face interview. A traditional in-person interview where you can assess communication and cultural fit. Ask candidates about their skills, experience and knowledge of the profession to learn more about their abilities. It’s also a chance for them to ask you questions about the role and see if you’re a good fit for their next career move.
  • Technical assessment. A practical assessment that tests their ability to perform specific skills and activities required to do the job. For example, checking vitals, including heart rate, blood pressure, pulse oximetry and body temperature. Ask them to demonstrate how they perform these tasks and assess their competency.
  • Competency-based evaluation. A series of questions that require candidates to relay real-life examples of how they meet specific competencies for the role. If hiring an in-home care professional, you might ask for an example of a time when they’ve overcome communication barriers with a patient.
8. Select the best candidate

Work with the hiring team to hire the best candidate for the position. Discuss their skill sets, cultural fit and how they’ll help your healthcare facility deliver the best care to patients. 

Add unsuccessful candidates to your talent pipeline for future opportunities if you think they would suit other roles besides the one you’re currently advertising.

9. Hire and onboard the accepted candidate

Create a smooth onboarding process to integrate the new hire into the organization. Provide orientation, introduce them to team members, familiarize them with the company and provide them with the necessary resources.

 

Using an HCM platform can help onboard new hires. You can automate the onboarding process, share training videos and collect legally required signatures in a centralized location. 

Tips and advice for successful talent acquisition

A proactive approach is best to ensure your talent acquisition strategy is as successful as possible. The following are some of these best practices to implement in your own strategy:  

Monitor your talent acquisition efforts.

 

Keep track of how your talent acquisition efforts are performing to help you measure success and track progress. If your acquisition goals change over time, you’ll need to update your hiring requirements to align with your new direction.

Develop a strong employer brand.

 

Build a positive and authentic employer brand to attract top talent. Highlight your culture and values in the job description and during the interview stage(s).

Build a high-quality pipeline.

 

Creating a pipeline of top-quality leads ensures you have candidates available with the necessary skills, experience and cultural alignment for your organization. Over time, your needs may change, so you will have to refresh your pipeline to keep it in line with your requirements.  

Use Empeon to manage your talent acquisition strategy

Modern talent acquisition can help healthcare facilities attract and retain top-quality talent. You can improve your succession planning, run an efficient hiring operation, and deliver a better experience to your patients as a result.

Get in touch with one of our industry experts to learn more about talent acquisition and how to improve your acquisition efforts. 

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