Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Successful Staffing - A Note To The Hiring Managers

While this blog normally focuses on the candidate / consultant employment process, it seems important to address the folks that are responsible for the hiring decisions as well. [In this post I will use the term: "Hiring Managers" this term is broad based and covers anyone that is involved on the "client side" with the decision making process.] 

The candidate pool has never been so sparse.  The market is no longer saturated with highly qualified HIT consultants as it was a few years ago.  This is particularly true with specific EMR System qualified consultants like Epic and Siemens Soarian, yet every day Recruiters are tasked with finding the ideal match for their clients.  We are handed a laundry list of qualifications and must haves that the hiring manager cannot live without. While we often sympathise with those needs and we do understand that in order to complete an EMR implementation or upgrade there are necessary and specific qualifications required, we also throw our hands up and roll our eyes in dismay at the unwillingness to modify expectations and the lack of understanding in regards to how few people exist with those requirements. 

For years I've watched the healthcare IT industry with interest, and have thought that it would only be a matter of time before hiring managers were more likely to consider candidates that were a bit outside their desired requirements or even be willing to consider the dreaded REMOTE WORKER... God Forbid.  Remote workers are normally highly qualified individuals that for whatever reason cannot travel on a weekly basis.  These resources are rampant in the industry but more likely than not, hiring managers are not willing to consider these people.  It is truly unfortunate in this competitive climate that more hiring managers are not willing to think outside the box.  Remote workers are qualified, have all the necessary technology to perform their duties from a home office and usually are willing to travel on-site for the first week or two of their engagement.  The client saves substantial funds by utilizing a remote worker because they eliminate the travel expenses* and normally the remote worker will consider a slightly lower hourly rate because they have the luxury of working from home. 

In other instances it might be necessary to consider a consultant that has less than the necessary requirements.  Most sharp consultants can pick up new skills quickly.  Nothing is more frustrating to both the recruiter and the candidate than to have a hiring manager say "This candidate only has 2 years of build experience, we need someone with 5 years or more."  Usually those responses are made without the hiring manager ever having an interview with the candidate to see if the candidate might actually have enough know-how to be a beneficial member of their team.  Also, there have been many times when a highly qualified candidate has been declined because they weren't available on the exact start-date required, yet the hiring manager will find they are still seeking "the right candidate" weeks after the original candidate could have been on the job.  Commonly the hiring manager will come back after their desired start date has passed and inquire if the original candidate is still available, which of course they are not. 

When I was responsible for both account management and recruitment I would provide my clients with the following analogy:  "There is a pond... and standing around that pond are 1500 Recruiters, all with baited hooks in the water, and in the pond there are 3 Big Fat Epic fish and NONE of those fish are hungry.  It is a waiting game to see which hook has the most attractive bait when one of the fish finally needs something to eat."  It just so happens that in that pond there are also dozens of slightly undersized Epic fish that are very hungry, and when the big Epic fish are so scarce, it is often worth while to go with a  smaller fish.

Timing is another issue.  There are so very few qualified resources in the industry that when those resources come available (and usually long before they are available) they are receiving multiple offers.  When a qualified candidate resume is received, an interview should be scheduled immediately and when the interview goes well an offer should be made within 24 hours, expedience is key.  All too frequently a stellar resume is submitted and a week or two goes by before the recruiter receives an interview request from the hiring manager, by this time that candidate has accepted another position.  The interview process plays a huge role in the % of hires made.  If a client insists on the candidate interviewing with 4 different people and those interviews drag out over weeks of time each passing day the likelihood of hiring that candidate decreases.  (the number of interviews differs for a permanent hire, if a candidate is being considered for a permanent position it is acceptable to have multiple internal interviews prior to a decision)

An excellent example for this topic is an Epic Willow Certified Pharmacist.  If I suddenly had someone with those qualifications call me and be interested in starting a new position within 3 weeks I could submit that candidate to almost every Epic client we have because there is such a shortage of consultants with those skills.  If that candidate has also called 4 other recruiters, they will be a blip on the availability screen.  That candidate is likely to take the first offer that provides his/her desired hourly rate and the least amount of travel.

To sum it up:
> A sense of urgency from the hiring manager is paramount to the % of hires made.
> The number of qualified resources in this industry are dwindling.
> Willingness to think outside the box and consider candidates that have most but not all of the requirements or highly qualified candidates that can work remotely is imperative.
> Timing is key...
> Remember that your recruiters want to fill the positions as badly as you do.  Working together and listening to each other is the best way to make hires. 
> The shorter the time between resume submittal to interview to offer, the higher your success rate will be.

* Savings associated with hiring a remote worker:  Many clients consider $1200.00 per week an "average travel expense".  Keeping that number in mind, a traveling consultant could rack up over $55,000 in travel expenses during a 12 month engagement. Allowing a consultant to work remotely even part of the time can free up large sums for other needs.

*Copyright - Expressed permission must be granted by the blog owner to recreate, copy or use this material* - but please feel free to share the link if you enjoyed the content!


  1. Thanks for the linkedin comment Lou:

    Beautifully stated Cherie. Thank you for your sincere thoughts and efforts in stating the facts and trying to help us get out of the rut we're in.
    Lou Feola

  2. This is frustrating to read. I'm working on my Master's in Health Informatics and am now concerned this might not be enough to get a job. All of the postings I see have certifications as a requirement and very specific skill sets. There are a lot of smart people out in the market looking for work that are being shut out.

  3. Blair, You are correct that it can be challenging to get a position in this industry and often very specific requirements are needed. I posted a while back about this... look through the archives on the right for "Breaking into the Healthcare IT Industry" hopefully you will find the tips there helpful.

  4. Blair, I commented on your August article about why being a quick learner may not be enough, and in response, you directed me to this article. Thank you! I really appreciate what you said and how well you said it!