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Hire the Best You Have – Or Hire the Best There is? What is Sourcing & Why it Matters

Monday, November 17, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Krista Chuscavage
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by Kelli Mulloy, President, The Inline Group


Last summer my youngest daughter and I meandered across Iowa visiting family, ending up in Iowa City where I went to college at The University of Iowa. Sadly, my reminiscing and tales of college in the corn fields failed to send her running to admissions. Still, as I stood on campus, I wondered, what would that starry eyed coed have said back then if told her that one day she would say, “I live to source!” Right?


Okay, maybe I don’t live for it, but it consumes most of my days, and I spend a substantial amount of time and energy considering how to do it better, faster and more effectively. So, I am always surprised (and maybe a little hurt) when someone doesn’t know what sourcing is or why it matters.


Let’s begin with a definition. Sourcing is defined by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as: “The proactive searching for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions. It is not the reactive function of reviewing resumes and applications sent to the company in response to a job posting.” Immediately we know, sourcing is active not passive. Candidates can likewise be categorized as passive or active. Active candidates are defined as those currently looking for a job, and passive candidates are those who are not. While once this might have been critical, it is less so in today’s physician and advanced practitioner market; many providers contacted are willing to at least listen to the information about an interesting opportunity. 


Why sourcing important is a longer answer. I propose this answer has two parts: a general component and then a more specific piece about the quality of that sourcing program.


Sourcing is inherently necessary because the demand for candidates today outweighs the supply. The American Academy of Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports a current shortage of 25,000 physicians, with that number growing to 130,500 by 2025. Practically every CEO or Director we speak with is concerned about the quantity and quality of the physicians and advanced practitioners at their facility. I travel the United States talking to administrators and recruiters, and virtually everyone is: currently recruiting, getting ready to, just finished, or realizing that at any minute they will need to recruit. One large 200 hospital management company we work with told its hospitals’ CEOs this year, “Physician recruitment is your top priority.” They understand that no doctors mean no revenue.


The quality of your recruiting efforts is directly related to the quality of your sourcing program. That’s right: quality hiring requires quality sourcing. Sure you may hire the best candidates that you see, but are you seeing the best candidates available? While a few programs in the country may still rely primarily on their residency programs and physician referrals, those are dwindling rapidly. Two years ago, most facilities requiring help to hire a primary care candidate were located in a rural setting. Today we source candidates in most of the largest cities in the US, including large hospital systems in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.


According to the AAFP, Family Medicine physicians comprise 15% of the physician population but account for more than 23% of the visits made by the American population. In rural areas, the percentage of visits is more like 42%. Facilities with physician openings have an even greater struggle to meet patient needs. Historically, 7% of the physician population is job hunting at any one time. With a small percentage of candidates looking and a shortage, sourcing becomes ever more important.


Let’s talk about where the words “active” and “passive” become important in the sourcing discussion. Don Charlton, the CEO and Founder of The Resumator (http://www.theresumator.com/) has four questions to help you identify whether your organization has a passive sourcing approach:


1.    Do you post your jobs on a job board (or your internal site) and wait for candidates to apply?

2.    Are you or your recruiters spending your days trawling through hundreds of CVs with no real time to actively source candidates, build a pipeline, or build talent communities?

3.    Do you tweet a job periodically and then determine it does not work?

4.    Do the candidates in your recruitment database just sit there whilst more and more are added?


Answer yes to most of these and you have a passive sourcing strategy.


Building effective sourcing strategies means the difference between profit and what my husband calls “Christmas Card City” (sending each other Christmas Cards because we shut the doors). For the last seven years, we have made it our focus to determine what it takes to make sourcing an art. Here are the rules that we live by:


·       Rule One - You simply must do it every single day. It takes consistent, repetitive focus without letup. Even when you think that you have a pipeline, and candidates locked in at the various steps in your recruitment process, you simply must feed the monster. Because otherwise, I promise, somewhere between steps 3-10 you will lose a candidate. No candidates in the pipeline means you are months further behind that proverbial eight ball. 


·       Rule Two - You must go where the candidates are. You must be mobile. Maybe Mayo Clinic gets a candidate camping on its doorstep, but that is the exception, not the rule. Competition is nationwide, and to be in the game, they have to find you. Today’s candidates don’t open the paper or the JAMA and apply for a job from a posted ad. They get online, and they research your town, your job, your facility and yes, the quality of your coffee, EMR and the tweets of your current employees. Make sure that you are advertising where the candidates are, and that your current employees are strong ambassadors for you.


·       Rule Three - You must sell yourself. Write great copy. Don’t just list the requirements for the job in bullet form on page 11 buried on your hospital or facility website. Research tells us that each time  candidates must click into the site you lose 20% of them. Five clicks, and you’ve lost over half your candidates. One of my clients told me, “I tried this on our site, and I can apply for a dishwashing job at our facility with two clicks, but a physician? I can’t even find the listings.” Whatever is best, unique, and remarkable about the opportunity – sell it on the front page of a site designed just for your candidates. (And MINIMIZE the clicks!)


·       Rule Four - Manage your data. Know the source of each candidate. Keep track, be efficient, use your recruiting software or get some. If you can’t, at least use Excel and track the dates to identify when and where you got the candidate, when you made contact and the resolution of that contact.


·       Rule Five - Get on the phone. A truly quality, active sourcing program requires making phone calls and often the dreaded “cold calls.” I rank candidates in three categories:


•    Level One – Candidates who have posted a CV on a job board, attended a job fair, or replied to your posting. It is great to call candidates who are actively looking and indicate that they want a call. (Hint, if you did not call them within 15 minutes of their CV hitting the web, they are already quivering in the corner. They are not answering the phone after call 35 from the headhunters, wondering “What have I done?” You will have to leave a message.)

•    Level Two – Candidates from your active internal network, referrals by physicians, other recruiters in your network, your talent community, and your social network community. These candidates may come from relationships you have built with Residency Coordinators or other hospital staff members.

•    Level Three – This can be where it gets scary. (Cold calling.) And, in this market, I can promise that eventually, all sourcing programs worth their salt get into what has been coined the “Dark Matter” by Glen Cathey in his article about finding candidates with virtually no web presence. I am talking about calling names on lists that you purchased or that are in your database that have not seen the light of day in a while.


·       Rule Six - Be excited, be fanatical, and be prepared for rejection. Whoever is doing your sourcing is likely going to hear the words, “No thank you.” or “I am not interested.” or just, “Click!” a lot. Keeping your sourcing team motivated, excited and selling your organization is job ONE! Your employees sell your organization. So, building strategies to keep sourcing personnel encouraged and motivated is key. Look at creative compensation, competitions and other ideas to keep the team ready to get that motivated candidate on the phone. We have daily competitions and compensation strategies on both a team and an individual production basis. We have balloons, gift cards, team events and pizza lunches. We turn off the lights and ring the bells.


So, after all that, do you see why I live to source? No? Sourcing is the foundation for the entire recruitment process. It is fun to help a single physician in rural Nevada find that partner who lives in upstate New York to take over his practice.  We helped an FPOB serving his country for more than 20 years find a home in rural medicine to finish his career. (I’m getting goose bumps.)


We actually have a client who sources candidates even when fully staffed. No way you say!? One more story. A progressive FQHC in a suburb of Houston got sourcing help for seven months and filled all their needs. They put the search on hold. Within three months, the Director went from no needs to five needs. More sourcing. Maybe they should have kept that pipeline going? Lucky for them, they have a great location and a great story. But you never know.


Sourcing is the last job that anyone wants. It isn’t much fun, and busy recruiters are interviewing, on-boarding, scheduling, contract negotiating, worrying about physician satisfaction, and then they need to source every day? But who will you hire if you don’t source? And when that doc suddenly quits, do you want to hire the best you have? Or do you want to hire the best the market has to offer?


Whoever does your sourcing, make sure that your facility has an active sourcing program that meets all the rules, and if you still wonder what sourcing is and why it matters? (Sigh.) Please call me.


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