In surpassing Mark Spitz’s world record by winning his seventh 7th Olympic gold medal, Michael Phelps’ margin of victory over Milarod Cavic in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2008 Olympic Games was one hundredth of a second. Olympic competition is fierce, but what lessons transfer from the swimming pool to the talent pool?
Think back to ten years ago; it was seven or eight travel nurses competing for a single hospital assignment. The script has flipped since the Great Recession and it’s now seven or eight hospitals competing for that one travel nurse. The gap between open jobs and candidates to fill them is wider than an Olympic-sized pool. While demand is as high as it has ever been, supply has not expanded. Further, the national vacancy rate in hospital nursing is 6.5%, while the end of the pandemic is seemingly nowhere in sight.
Clearly, competition for clinical talent is also fierce. And in healthcare, there is obviously much more at stake than winning medals. Hospitals and health systems that remain focused on attention to detail and speed within the recruiting/hiring process are securing more placements and winning more talent. As the “margin of victory” in the current market remains razor thin, the following suggestions take us “back to the basics.” And if not already, they should become the standard operating procedure immediately. Both can mean the difference in securing the help you and your staff need.
Designate a “Travel Greeter” to Connect with Candidates within an Hour of Submission.
As busy as hiring managers are, immediate interviewing may not be possible. If this is the case, designate a staff member to contact the candidate or his/her staffing agency. It doesn’t have to be within one hundredth of a second, but the task should be completed within one hour of submittal. Even if the message is as simple as, “We are interested in you and our manager will call you back when you both are available,” it is more important than ever that a candidate feels wanted ASAP. Most candidates are submitted to multiple jobs at the same time. Understanding that the tendency is for a traveler to take the first offer received, being the first to make contact is a competitive recruiting advantage in the race for talent. You gotta let them know!
Early Bird Gets the Extension.
If you have a traveler on assignment doing good work and the need in that role will persist, make the offer to extend the traveler’s assignment as soon as you can. In a typical market, extension offers surface near the end of an assignment. In the current environment, taking a proactive approach to securing extensions earlier creates several competitive advantages:
- The position is filled with the benefit of continuity
- The time and expense of another orientation/onboarding are eliminated
- Exposure to paying a higher bill rate to fill the same position is often minimized
- It is less likely that your core staff will have to go without the needed help altogether
Again, these are basic but fundamental recommendations. I am not sure what the equivalent details are within the context of Michael Phelps’ elite training regime. However, in winning his seventh gold medal by one hundredth a single second, it’s a fair guess that his attention to detail in the pursuit of speed is the difference.
Mike’s experience combines more than a decade of business development responsibilities for healthcare organizations with his role in the OR as an orthopedic representative. His perspective on patient care, cost, and quality has helped Mike become an asset to Medical Solutions over the last five years. As a Senior National Account Executive, he helps hospitals reassess their approach to supplemental clinical staffing and provides customized solutions to managed services clients. Mike earned his BA in political science from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and has been playing drums since the third grade.