My Four Part Series for Employer Medical Recruiters, Part II: On being a “Pro” and incorporating marketing and selling skills

Employer medical recruiters and their efforts directly impact the lives of their patients and communities. It’s an incredible responsibility. Because of this, it there is a solemn and moral responsibility to be dedicated to continual improvement and professional growth. This four part series is focused on the four core components required for employer medical recruiters to fulfill this responsibility and excel.

In Part I, I pulled no punches regarding “commitment” to one’s position as an employer recruiter in healthcare.  You get no credit for claiming to “love” your community and going to church with, and knowing people in your service area, showing up for work every day, and eventually filling open jobs.  I have met hundreds of employer recruiters – all who claim these “feel good” abstract descriptions of their positions, almost as a defense for mediocre results – none of these pay any bills. More important, none are an excuse to provide a grief stricken family member of a patient just lost due to a mistake made by a practitioner.  I love my spouse and my Lord – the bank to whom I owe my mortgage doesn’t give a hoot.

Here is the only characteristic I care about and on it I can take a new recruiter of any talent level and make them “elite” with their results in short order:  you need to acknowledge and embrace that your work directly impacts lives because if you hold this in your heart, then it will drive you to continually push yourself by growing your knowledge and skills – necessities in this dynamic market where there is intense competition.  You are never good enough, and you must improve. Welcome to “tough love” recruiting excellence.  You must have this “solemn commitment [Foundation Commitment #1].”  
Part II:  That commitment will then motivate you to grow your marketing and selling skills and commit to the fact that you are a real “sales professional” – you also need to know the difference between marketing and selling.  You need to understand the competitive component – that you must not only sell candidates, but OUTSELL your competitors.  You must understand that being efficient carves out tremendous waste, and actually improves your results.  You must have a sincere commitment to be a “Pro.”

  • What is a “Pro?:”  A professional employer medical recruiter is a highly motivated professional with sales and marketing skills, who uses competitive, advanced tools, and understands the entire spectrum of the recruiting process, and brings value to his position with improved outcomes.
  • My father, a former corporate executive, used to say a refrain many times through my upbringing which I never forgot:  “There is a big difference between someone with ten years of experience and another with one year of experience for ten years in a row.”  The message here is 75% of the employer medical recruiters I have met learned how to do their job in a mediocre fashion with no prior sales experience and little or no professional training – then learned their “job” and have done it for 5 and even 10 years the same way.  The result is mediocrity.  This happens when you have recruiters without the solid foundation commitment and with no professional sales experience or training. 
  • It’s difficult to get any recruiter in this position to admit they need any improvement – they are caustically defensive when new ideas or tools are suggested to them.  Imagine this person and that mentality recruiting YOUR physician or pediatrician for your children.

The Myth of not being in Salesyou are in a sales position, and if you don’t think so, this mentality automatically disqualifies you from your job.  From convincing your teacher in third grade you deserved an “A” on the paper, to winning over your girlfriend in college, we are all in sales to some degree and are generally selling ideas to others, our colleagues, family, the boss, your civic group, to the kids you teach or coach in Little League, all the time. So to think a recruiter isn’t a sales professional is ridiculous.

I was once in a meeting with a hospital senior executive team and one of them said “I don’t like to sell, and physicians looking to work at our hospital, if they ask me for information I will give them what I can, but they are responsible for choosing where they want to practice.  After they choose us, then my job is to work with them to make the transition.”

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Is this the mentality of someone who understands recruiting impacts lives?  What if one of the lives was his spouse’s?  He apparently hasn’t heard of the dramatic shortage of many specialists, and also thinks all physicians and practitioners are of the same competence and quality.  There is no “sense of urgency” in filling jobs – which puts money into the hospital sooner vs. no acknowledgement than anything can be done, nor any awareness of the value in proactively influencing recruiting outcomes.  There are gaping “opportunity losses” that result from this mentality.  What a foolish thing to say. 
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Of course, there are better physicians and practitioners. Some work better and more competently and limit mistakes and lawsuits, and also work more efficiently, which also impacts the budget.  Studies now prove there is a direct financial benefit in filling jobs sooner (Merritt-Hawkins produced a 2006 study, and The Advisory Board Company, Inc., in May 2008 reconfirmed hospital lose over $100,000 each month a physician job is unfilled at the hospital).  Hospitals must not just fill jobs, but make “the right fit” for the long term – “retention” is becoming a big issue:  Imagine spending tens of thousands to fill a physician job and after spending more tens of thousands the physician and spouse choose to leave – could the hospital have taken steps to limit this possibility from happening? Not according to this hospital administrator above!

  • The #1 mistake I see almost all hospitals make is they forget they are competing – (this is due to the fact that those dictating the policy of recruitment generally have no professional sales experience) that is, they not only have to attract and then sell jobseekers, but they must “out market” and “out sell” many other employers vying for the same professional.  You must evaluate how jobs are advertised and how you are selling and closing candidates.  In a competitive arena where everyone seems to be doing it the same way, your lack of originality in your tools and efforts to distinguish yourself from competitors is a sure way to have mediocre results and hire the mediocre candidates. (The “dead giveaway” that I am dealing with an untrained recruiter is when, for example, a community hospital recruiters or their CEOs break into the “Our community is great for raising a family,” and “we are close to big city amenities but away from their overcrowding,” “we have great schools,” and more nonsense.  While these may be true statements, every community hospital says this, so it’s a waste of time and doesn’t help the jobseeker, who heard the same mantras from 6 other employers.

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Remember your Foundation Commitment #1 here.  Your solemn commitment must motivate you to have a proactive orientation toward your job – this leads you to want to have a proactive impact on the results.  This is essential because the employees and physicians you recruit are the foundation of the future – mediocre candidates and expensive and mediocre results, and skills that are stagnant and tools not competitive, set your hospital on a road to inefficiency, more lawsuits, poor outcomes – from physicians leaving after a year to less-than-great physicians or practitioners procedures and services.   
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  • The belief that you cannot, or you choose not to have a proactive orientation towards your job and its results, violates Foundation Commitment #1 and sets your hospital on the road to mediocrity.

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Differentiating Marketing from Selling:  Employer medical recruiters should have prior marketing or professional sales experience with complex sales and dealing with high-end consumers.  Whether you do or not, there are some “foundation basics” in these areas that you need to know and incorporate into your strategic plan and your work and it’s not that hard.
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Marketing:  As it relates to employer medical recruiting, marketing is the part of the recruiting process that serves to get attention paid to the advertised job openings – it is literally the “Hey! Look over here!” feature of the advertisement of your job(s).
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  • There are many approaches you can take to advertise your jobs online, during job fairs, in mailers, print advertising, in person, on the phone, or in branding efforts at your hospital in your service area, region, or even nationally.  Find out what your competitors are doing.  Then do it differently and with a focus on getting attention and getting the first opportunity to present your jobs vs. them.  Remember there are not just a limited number of practitioners, but of them, you want to land the top 15% of them.

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(While I offer training workshops to hospitals and corporations on Marketing – the strongest conceptual focuses I recommend is to put heads together and develop a cogent plan to stand apart from competitors as the signature thing to improve recruiting results).
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Selling:  Selling is the part of the recruiting process AFTER you have attracted job prospects with Marketing of the career position(s) – now that you have their attention with a well-planned marketing feature of your employment advertising, which hopefully gives them the positive emotions needed to consider your sales presentation.
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Selling is the process of developing a relationship where you try to get your prospect to see that you are an advocate for them to make the best possible decision (after all, if they choose you but then end up regretting it, this hurts both sides – so you have a genuine interest in the outcome) while convincing them to accept your job opportunity after discerning they are your choice.
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The selling process also includes pre-qualifying prospects and candidates and implementing a ranking system that is modeled on candidate quality and an efficiency model.
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Selling is also about understanding you are competing against many others, and identifying where you stand with the candidates.
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Before the attempt to compel them to accept your job offer, in order to have professional results, you must have a system where they have been fully informed and your best “presentation” has been provided to them and any other decision makers in their party, if any, you know where you stand vs. other employers they are considering, their timeline to make the decision, as well as have them ranked vs. other candidates.  You need to know where your employer falls short and have an offer to offset it.  You also need to know where your employer is ahead and use that to compel the prospect. It’s not that hard because you are only working with the prospect/candidate to gather information.
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From here you advance to the “Close.”
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Closing the candidates is based on your having developed your relationship with them and having made smaller agreements with them through the recruitment process; you have taken “steps of progress” with them, which includes coming to this point to decide, and then review pluses and minuses about your opportunity vs. other opportunities (you aren’t scared to review the minuses and pluses because you are their advocate – you want them to make the best decision for them).
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The presentation of your opportunity should include with physicians your proforma and financial presentation and practice set up overview with all guarantees, as well as a review of the stated benefits you and the candidates have agreed are signature with your opportunity over the others, as well as an acknowledgement of any shortcomings and your employer’s offerings to permanently offset those shortcomings – to permanently put to rest those shortcomings; in other words, you make a “deal” where the prospect permanently “puts away” any shortcomings so they never resurface.
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(The sales protocol can not only be fun, but serve to eliminate the “stress” of selling.  It is important to establish a repeatable “process” so you can quickly move to having the ability to improvise as well as “grow” the process in advanced ways.  Think of it this way:  Imagine you are trained to give a sales presentation, which is basically to be delivered the same way every time. Once you get to the point where you can recite the presentation in your sleep, then you can build on it and keep tweaking things and accessorize it in order to keep improving on your results – both time and candidate quality.
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You are not afraid to ask the candidate for their decision because you set everything up, you both are totally aware of all the facts, and you agreed to get here. In fact, by this time the best salesmen are presumptively closing and “yes” is important, but is more of an acknowledgement by the candidate than an answer.
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(I offer training workshops that help beginner to experienced employer recruiters get advanced sales results almost immediately; it starts with crafting a basic presentation formula that any recruiter can follow, regardless of their prior experience).
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Here is your Foundation Commitment #2:  “I will be a real pro and have a proactive impact on my results.  I am competing for candidates vs. other employers.  I commit to crafting marketing ideas and a selling protocol that separate my opportunities from others while maximizing time and quality.  My process will build my relationship with prospects in ‘steps’ and lead to a conclusion that is best for both sides.”
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Review:  at this point, you should be motivated and want to have an impact on your job because 1) your work impacts lives – you have a moral responsibility to be your best and never settle, and 2) you have the awareness that you are competing and need to develop a “professional marketing and sales process” to maximize your results. 
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You should now naturally be asking what tools you can use to support your efforts now that you are on the appropriate path to be a real pro – and that’s what is next in Part III!  Stay tuned!
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Carl Brickman
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