Our Online Job Tour production for Wise County, Virginia’s Norton Community Hospital is our latest accomplishment, and one of our largest: at 400 web pages with 115 videos and more than 8,000 photos from our on-site production trip, it represents the culmination of our 12 years of experience and expertise profiling the community hospital and the relationship with its service area, while maximizing physician and hospital recruiting.
Our productions are phenomenal to the career search world; a sophisticated and researched study, the Norton Online Job Tour would print to a phenomenal 900 pages, and has more than 5 hours of video time. Made to attract, reach and recruit what will be a physician professional, consumer, and area resident, this is a “virtual immersion experience” to the client’s campus and its region; it provides 20x the information a candidate would obtain on an interview trip.
Reviewing four of the challenges we faced for this project, and overcoming them by controlling the narrative while educating prospective candidates on its virtual touring format, reveals why U.S. patented Online Job Tour provides compelling recruiting improvements and savings for our clients.
1. The Coalfields – it’s a tough word for recruiting.
A city or area with a negative name association can be particularly punishing for recruiting. We test-marketed our product in many towns whose names alone placed them in disadvantageous recruiting positions: Dodge City, Kansas certainly suffered from the historic “Get out of Dodge” phrase. Another is Selma, Alabama, a beautiful southern town with more structures than any town in Alabama on the Historic Register, that once had a Jewish mayor and still has a synagogue – is overshadowed by the civil rights unrest from the 1960s. Larger places, like Eastern Nevada (“The Great Plains”) or Clarksdale, Mississippi (“The Delta”) carry with them often unfair stereotypes or wrong impressions, based on their locations, or reputations, that are sometimes media driven.
Before gaining a more favorable reputation because it is the home of President Francis Underwood from the Netflix show “House of Cards,” the town of Gaffney, South Carolina experienced a double homicide – a fluke, generational tragedy, to be sure, but that news dominated the Internet and was found by every jobseeker considering Upstate Carolina Regional Medical Center. These words, bad histories, reputations, what is online, are real, vivid concerns to jobseekers who don’t know the area, or the region.
In this case, “The Coalfields” of Southwest Virginia is a similar major obstacle for recruitment. The negative geo-politics of the coal industry combined with the stereotyped images of the black faced miner with the pick ax, can cast a poor light on it. In my years visiting the Tri-Cities, the home of the parent company of this hospital, I would regularly meet people who claimed to be “from the Coalfields” who talked in negative terms about it. Were it not for my experience knowing these communities usually are far better than how they are referenced or talked about, I would have been concerned that Wise County was a remote place with people riding horses and walking around in bare feet!
The words alone, “coal fields” come with a negative connotation and in recruitment, needs to be confronted. So how did we chose to “present” the area?
Fortunately for Wise County, Dominion Power built the compelling 2012 Hybrid Energy Center here – a $1.8 Billion behemoth, and marvel of modern energy production that may be the cleanest coal plant in the world (it remains the last coal plant built by the company to date). This is a station/facility/complex designed to produce energy even from the poorest grades of coal, called G.O.B., that older plants cannot use, and even wood scraps can be used to produce energy. Its cleaning and disposal methods EXCEED federal guidelines. It exists within 5 miles of the Clinch River, one of America’s most bio-diverse. Completely defying what most think about when they imagine a coal plant, this facility will fulfill the county and its tax base with millions of dollars, for decades – an economic certainty that is also important to be represented to physician jobseekers.
So first, we promote the extreme “cleanliness” of the plant, as well as provide photos of the entire property with a young, supervisor with an engineering degree, which runs against typical “coal miner” stereotypes – Geoffrey provides a tour of the facility which include our aerial photos, to show the magnitude of the complex.
We also focused on finding another narrative that jobseekers likely don’t know much about, called “reclamation,” which refers to what is now the requirement of mining companies to “replenish” formerly-mined land, much of which was jagged mountainsides, into a natural state. We profiled an expert and Virginia Tech engineer, on the subject, who provided an extensive video presentation, taking us to a vineyard and cow grazing/raising pasture – businesses new to the area, and even a golf course on what was once a coal mining operation.
Our production was designed to lower jobseeker anxiety about the television stereotypes of modern coal companies and set a narrative about it that was based in realities of the local culture and economy, and even the heritage of the area, that was agreeable and understandable. In addition, all the people in our production genuinely extend invitations to meet candidates on their interview, which promoted these are professionals with nothing to hide and who want to proudly share the compelling information and welcome new doctors.
In addition to featuring the Hybrid Energy station and examples of reclamation, we sought out a renowned geologist and author to explain the reason why coal is in the area, providing a scientific, or academic angle, that would appeal to a prospective candidate. Tony Scales used maps of region, photos taken from space, and even discusses the chemical make up of coal, and its prevalence in the region and specifically where it is.
More, a local UVA professor and nationally-known linguist, was interviewed, telling prospects in our unique second person format (our subjects speak to the camera and are coached by us to pretend they are talking to prospects) about the culture of the people and families they will care for – Dr. Amy Clark is a fourth generation resident of an area who speaks eloquently and reassuringly to candidates about what they can expect from the people who make up the “culture” of the region.
Finally, the aforementioned allow us to introduce coal stereotypes, but in the context of their being part of a history that is cherished; we visit local museums and talk about the heritage and what forged the area, including important historical figures. All of these people we interview “humanize” the area, and the nostalgia creates a “place” for jobseekers to imagine they will live in, and make their next hometown.
Familiarizing the area and any issue of concern to jobseekers, is the first step to selling them, as well as beating competing employers in hiring them, and our team properly presented the narrative to maximize our client’s ability to get past negative connotations while we made “the Coalfields” competitive.
2. Seven Towns – That’s way too many for traditional recruiting
In traditional recruiting, hospitals attempt to “sell” their communities and hospitals to candidates on the expensive interview site visit, when they fly in and host them and their spouse (often over numerous trips). In many cases regarding rural counties, however, they can have multiple towns that are distinct and separated by significant distances, making it literally impossible for a candidate to visit them, even on multiple trips.
There is no doubt that Wise County is better when considering the sum of its seven communities – they are all incredible, with amazing histories, their own schools, festivals, businesses, and tourist features, all which are not well marketed to attract a $500,000 per-year physician. They also “fly under the internet radar” and are difficult to research even if the candidate is motivated, and these places are therefore missed by jobseekers almost entirely. Again, this leaves hospitals with the expensive proposition of the costly and limited interview trip, and the associated challenges relating to their budget, to attempt to fill the job – when even then, the trip cannot do it.
- So having seven towns is a huge problem for Norton Community Hospital, because in traditional recruiting, no candidates, until Online Job Tour, were able to fully experience all of the county’s towns, much less one of them.
In our Online Job Tour, we decided to profile each each town (Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Norton, Wise, Pound, Coeburn, and St. Paul) as if it existed alone and had to “sell” candidates; we produced a profile of each community that is not only better than their own online presentations of themselves, but better than any combination of sources, and then we additionally show how the physician and family would live in each – we effectively set up a protocol that drives candidates through each town, and they compete against each other. Some of the town profiles print to 40 pages. We feel strongly that the client has a “good problem” when their candidate is debating which town they like best and want to live in, as opposed to considering a career with another employer.
3. “What do we have to give up?” – This is a key question of jobseekers considering working in a rural hospital and living in its area
Over the course of a decade, we have met hundreds of physician jobseekers. They admitted there was an appeal to living in a non-metro market and working in a smaller hospital, whom I call “throwback candidates.” But when considering rural areas they had not visited, they would invariably ask us:
“It seems like a nice place, but what modern conveniences would we have to give up (if we chose to live there)?”
This common refrain was referring to the (often but not always true) belief that there would be fewer amenities, a poor quality of schools, etc., that would negatively impact a quality of living they would enjoy/or thought they would, than new jobseekers had during their residencies/fellowships, which were often in large cities, or with experienced physicians living their comfortable lives in a metro area or the suburbs.
In Wise County, we waited until the completion of a $50 million public school system consolidation for our production visit, which included the construction of three high schools that looked like small colleges – along with a University of Virginia campus and its resources, which include a “pre-college” program offered, free, to the area’s college bound students, and a capable local community college; we presented videos and tours, and a comprehensive breakdown showing that the public schools and facilities rivaled the best in rural America.
- A powerful feature of Online Job Tour is when we “reveal” not only features that candidates probably don’t know, but when they appear to be better quality than they ever thought would be in our client’s area, such as these brand new school facilities as well as a special UVA program for students, they promote a “double-take” which are powerful selling and closing points we position our clients to use vs. competing employers/locations.
- We understand in recruiting, like in professional selling, our client must not only sell candidates, but outsell many options physician jobseekers have.
Regarding area lifestyle features, naturally, this region isn’t New York City, and candidates already perceive it to be a quality, outdoor recreation area because of what they find online. We not only feature that, but delve into other pursuits that a physician salary could engage in, which range from area history and cultural museums, music venues (including the region’s popular Bluegrass music trail and its area venues – which we tie to heavily because it marks the identity of the region in a charming way), the Barter Theatre, resorts, golf clubs, premier fly fishing, a tourist-booming ATV trail system, the Clinch River to TVA lake recreation, the local airport for private pilots, along with a comprehensive run down of area festivals – to promote there is far more than people expect. This is all done in a “touring” fashion, so receiving all of the information is manageable and “fits” into their considerations.
- A key in our productions is to provide client area assets in a competitive manner – to compete against perceived other employers, and to get candidates to “check off from the list” these core concerns, because with most jobseekers they are looking to disqualify jobs and places based on what they want and their quality. So for example, if our productions promote a candidate and spouse to agree to “check off” that the schools are good for their family, we achieved what we need to for the client.
Suddenly, candidates begin to understand they aren’t giving up much at all, and these features, on their income, are easier to access and they would increase their living quality standard enjoying them.
So instead of not knowing, and therefore having anxiety based on stereotyping, our productions clearly show jobseekers that Wise County offers the opposite of their concerns: a plethora of living features in so many categories that rural living changes to “high quality living,” as opposed to the dread of life in a remote place that doesn’t satisfy, like they may have thought. It’s also possible, and even likely, because competitors fall short in doing this, that THEY are considered to be less favorable than our clients, and the competing employers fall short to same jobseekers.
4. Expanding the Circle – The Driving Circle, that is.
Maybe the biggest mistake rural hospitals make is not putting themselves in the position of the physician jobseeker and how they will live – this is a core tenet that is taught to all sales professionals, regardless of the product or service being sold.
We know that doctors don’t stop at the county border on weekends. But each town and county websites, including tourism sites, focus on selling their features, and don’t focus on the entirety of an area or region they are in. Physicians will drive to what they want to do. Online Job Tour better illustrates how candidates will live with their families: we expand the outer circle of “lifestyle amenities” to cover 15+ entertainment venues in the region, show where the top golf clubs are, the best marinas, resorts, shopping – generally capping the distances to 60 miles, which in a rural area is about an hour’s drive.
The perception candidates have of life in Wise County just improved immensely because it’s not just about Wise County. Physician jobseekers and their spouses can now envision drives to Kingsport for shopping or to Abingdon for a Barter Theatre show, or to Marion to the Lincoln Theatre to see a PBS “Song of the Mountains” telecast — many things they would never visit on the traditional interview trip, or even be told about in traditional hospital recruiting.
- Often hospitals lose candidates because they never got enough information, or they get frustrated looking, and quit the process. We learned more than a decade ago that it’s better to reveal where all of the highest-end shopping and traditional amenities are located, even if not local, so when they commit to moving forward in their interviews, candidates are accepting those distances. In our productions, knowledge is power for the client, and for their candidates.
Dozens of additional examples of Online Job Tour overcoming traditional recruiting challenges that limit non-metro hospitals and physician employers, reveal that our digital, more comprehensive and convenient career search product, is compelling and a significant benefit in this modern age of online career search.
A Note on the Rural Hospital: The rural hospital, to us, is the most sacred business in America. We think it represents the “Norman Rockwell approach” of how hospitals were once set up to serve their communities. Their physicians still have city parks and high school gyms named in their honor. Hospital employees are held in esteem, and serve friends, neighbors and families they know. In the sacred halls of the community hospital, we see expert care given by people who choose to live in a town where they are recognized and appreciated. It gives us joy to represent these businesses, and to see Online Job Tour have a positive impact on their recruiting outcomes.
Our unprecedented test market: Since the Internet became a career search fixture for physicians and hospital professionals in the early 2000s, Online Job Tour productions were being test-marketed by selected non-metro hospitals while the invention was going through its patent application process, which was awarded in 2012. Through a seven year period, for reasons that primarily included misperceptions and stereotypes of their areas by jobseekers, the limitations of traditional recruiting to efficiently address jobseeker needs and compete for them, and the lack of information available, particularly rural hospitals continue to be challenged when competing for doctors and staff, but not Online Job Tour clients.
- Empirical evidence was gathered that showed incredible efficiency improvements, as clients filled their jobs in less time, reduced multiple costly interview trips, reduced their use of third party recruiters, they gained more referrals, the quality of candidates rose, retention rates doubled, and on-boarding programs were focused to credentialing and expediting start dates. New hires relocated with confidence and excitement to their top choices.
- With research emerging regarding the “opportunity loss” from unfilled physician openings and with specialist careers a hospital can lose $200,000 per month, filling jobs months sooner yields millions in additional income.
Call Promo Web Innovations to discuss a trial offer of Online Job Tour today, which allows your organization to try our productions for yourself without a major commitment and at an affordable investment price.