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Healthcare Recruiting Through A Marketing Lens

In today’s episode, Jenny is joined by Hedy & Hopp Senior Vice President and long-time friend Maggie Piasecki. Harkening back to their early days working at a healthcare recruiting firm, together they discuss the growing demand for healthcare workers and how viewing recruiting as a marketing function can help fulfill that demand. They discuss the different approaches needed to engage active job seekers versus more passive groups and how organizations can benefit from taking a full-funnel approach to their recruitment, including focusing on upstream objectives like brand awareness. Maggie shares how a focus on the emotional drivers of the audience can help recruiters make their organization and roles standout, and the benefits of small tests and ongoing optimization in driving results. Jenny also discusses how many healthcare organizations are budgeting dollars and headcount for recruitment marketing and gives tips on how marketing and HR colleagues can best collaborate in 2024.

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Jenny: [00:00:00] Hi friends. Welcome to today’s episode of “We Are, Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast.” I am your host, Jenny Bristow. I’m the CEO and founder at Hedy & Hopp, and I am so excited for the first time we have Hedy & Hopp’s SVP, Maggie Pasecki, joining us. Maggie, you have been with Hedy and Hop for over two years, really helping make sure that this agency fulfills the promises that we make our clients.

And you have been just so instrumental and helping us do that. But you and I go way back 20 years, not going to talk about how old we were when it was 20 years ago, but I love that it’s come full circle because the first marketing we did together, our very first roles out of college, was healthcare recruiting marketing.

Maggie: Yes. Yes, it sure was. It seems like ages ago. In fact, there’s a picture right there of us about 20 years ago at Google headquarters, learning about digital marketing techniques [00:01:00] back in the early days.

Jenny: I love it. Oh my goodness. So it was really interesting because 20 years ago, the healthcare recruiting company that we worked for, we were for the first time, right, like starting to use marketing tactics through the lens of an HR function to be able to recruit candidates. And now that, life has come full circle, we’re now doing that for a lot of our clients. We’re seeing more and more organizationally that marketing and HR functions are really collaborating because staffing continues to be an issue.

I think, was it a Becker’s report came out last week, and staffing is less of a concern for 2024, but still it’s like 57 percent of organizations are having staffing crises. So just because it’s not 100%, it still is very high as far as the level of concern. So I would love to kind of pick your brain a little bit, for those marketers that are just beginning to partner with their HR teams, when folks come to us, what are the, some of the first things [00:02:00] that we do to help kind of prep their campaigns for success?

Maggie: Yeah, it’s a great question. Healthcare recruitment is always tough, right? It was 20 years ago when we were working on it. But I think the dynamics in today’s age, for a variety of reasons, whether it’s staffing shortages due to COVID-19 recurrence is still or just sort of the burnout that they’re experiencing, they really come to us asking for creativity on how they find, engage, and recruit talent, and I think they’re really struggling with this idea of being sort of a passive type of job seeker, if you will. So we’ve got a portion of the healthcare staff, force, that’s actively looking for a job.

Those are going to be easier to engage. There’s a very large portion, though, that are sitting there that are really, I would say have a lot of ample excitement around potentially moving, but they’re not yet thinking about it. And so they typically are coming to us asking, how do we engage with that passive group that’s not yet proactively looking for a job?

And that really requires them to flip [00:03:00] the thinking from less recruitment versus how you would traditionally go after like consumer-based marketing and a funnel type of approach.

Jenny: Absolutely. There was a campaign we did that was a bit ago, but it continued to grow and expand because they had to start just with nurse recruiting and it was a very large regional campaign.

So one of the things that I thought was so brilliant is we actually had our strategists go in and begin researching each individual market and look at the competitors and say, like, what are they promoting and talking about? Is it a hiring bonus? Is it flexibility with scheduling and time? Is it, what are those perks that you’re competing against through the lens of the candidate and then testing those messages in the actual campaign creatives themselves?

One thing that I know you talk about a lot is like the core of Hedyology is, it’s not about the brand. It’s more about the end user. So like, talk about that a little bit.

Maggie: Yeah. So I think, one of the other things that when a client comes to us is they’ll [00:04:00] have their core brand attributes, like why would someone come to work there?

Right? So they get a bonus or they’re getting better PTO or they’re getting better flex time to go be with their family. Those are all kind of the core things that you would expect as a healthcare worker looking to potentially shift jobs, but I think more importantly, where we can come in and really help flip the perspective of the recruiter is we have to be able to bridge those sort of brand driven attributes with actual emotive needs of that actual healthcare worker that they are recruiting.

So, when you’re in sort of that passive recruitment stage, you really need to engage with that individual on an emotional level, right? Changing jobs is a big deal. You’re asking them to change in a sort of, kind of, uphill their day-to-day. And for some of these healthcare workers, they’ve been with their health organization for a really long time.

So typically, when somebody comes to us, we put them through a process, which we call Hedyology. And, Hedyology really does two things. One is it is an audience-first driven approach to how a brand engages with [00:05:00] their audience. And then it builds a data-forward foundation so that most importantly, that recruiter or healthcare brand can really understand and measure how successful they’re being.

So we really focus on taking those brand attributes and mapping those and really building a connection with what are the going to be the emotional drivers of their audience, right? Because at the end of the day, everybody makes decisions based off emotion. You rationalize them, right? But you’re going to initially engage based off an emotional decision and really getting recruiters to kind of flip that perspective and take that emotionally-driven approach with how they’re first engaging with that brand and sort of dripping them down a marketing funnel, if you will, I think really gets them and it helps them set apart from the other brands that are pushing a lot of marketing material out the door.

Jenny: Absolutely. And I think one of the things that you mentioned that’s so key is really viewing it as a marketing funnel, right? Like you’re nurturing this relationship.

A candidate’s not all of a sudden going to see your post or [00:06:00] your content and say, Oh, I’m going to upend my life and I’m going to apply today unless they’re truly unhappy and they’re ready to make a change. The vast majority of candidates aren’t. And that goes all the way through once an application is done, right?

Continuing to nurture them because sometimes the interview and hiring process can take a while, so making sure that you continue communication through that.

Maggie: Right. So, well, and often, the funnel for recruitment, if you will, typically starts at the point of application, right? So we often encourage them to extend up, right?

You really have to extend up into that general awareness and sort of building affinity of right, why that candidate would be interested in your brand. That can take a significant amount of time for passive type of job applicants or seekers. And so really spending a lot of time from the marketing perspective and turning that into recruitment and getting recruiters to think about that with the upstream type of work, I think is really critical as we move into 2024.

Jenny: Absolutely. So, what are some key points or [00:07:00] tips that you would give folks? We are already talking about like changing the messaging and changing the POV of the way of that you’re communicating and thinking about it. But if I’m a marketer and I’m sitting in my department right now, all of a sudden I’m hearing all about these staffing shortages, but maybe there hasn’t been an organizational push for our teams to work together, I feel like this could be a good opportunity for people to be able to drive internal collaboration. What tips would you give folks, whether their organizations are encouraging collaboration or not to kind of start that process?

Maggie: Yeah, it’s a good question. So I think, for marketers and healthcare organizations, they have their own challenges, right?

They’re focused on patient acquisition and building brand awareness. Those are also really hard challenges in today’s market. And then you’ve got the recruiter on the other side, who’s really focused on, hitting numbers and getting bodies in the door for a lack of a better word. I think the two can learn a lot from each other.

If I was a recruiter in a healthcare organization, as I go into [00:08:00] 2024, I would be trying to think of, how am I going to think about this differently of how we are building a funnel of applicants, how we are building more of a name for our brand within the healthcare worker space so people do want to come work here?

And I would be picking the brain of that marketer, right? So I would be scheduling time to try and learn from their patient marketing acquisition strategies. I also would be thinking less about the typical job board, if you will, or LinkedIn type of only funnel campaigns for the people that I’m trying to recruit.

And I would maybe be thinking about exploring agency relationships and or tech platform relationships that can help me expand my reach or the type of healthcare workers that I’m trying to get in the door.

Jenny: Absolutely. I think one thing that we have seen just as an FYI for anybody tuning into this, more and more organizations are having as large of a marketing budget for HR as specialty [00:09:00] service lines over on the patient acquisition side.

So if that’s not yet happening within your organization, that’s something to raise, raise a flag on and start having those chats. I think one of the things that I love so much in my role is I get to talk to so many folks in different groups across the country and figuring out and learning more about their team structure and their budgeting process and approval process and the way that they work with agencies or don’t.

And so that’s definitely one trend that we’ve seen more and more folks do over the last five years is really budgeting and prioritizing marketing in that way. It’s not just head count for HR. There’s actually a literal marketing budget tied to it.

Maggie: Yeah, and I think the other key piece is testing, right?

So, we had a client, we worked mainly with the head of marketing, it was a regional healthcare system. This person I think was out to lunch maybe with a recruiting contact within the organization, and they started just talking about the challenges that recruiter had. And so what our marketing contact did is they offered to work with us and run a recruitment test for that [00:10:00] recruiting department for the specific type of nurse that they were looking for.

It wasn’t a huge effort, right? So they didn’t have to put all of their eggs in one basket with trying to change direction and we ran a small test for them. And because we were audience-first, because we had a data foundation, we were really able to measure success, both from that upstream work down to whether or not applicants actually came in the door and whether they were hired.

And it was a small test that I think they were able to quickly optimize and show impact to determine how they ask for more budget moving into that next fiscal year. So that would also be, a small test. Test and measure and pivot quickly.

Jenny: Exactly. I love it. Well, Maggie, thank you so much for being on today.

It’s always fabulous for me to see your face, but also for sharing your insights for all of our listeners. And thank you folks for tuning in. We will be taking a short little hiatus for the holiday. We’re taking off two weeks so we can enjoy time with our friends and family instead of launching podcast episodes, but we will be back in [00:11:00] January with weekly Friday episodes.

So tune in then. And in the meantime have a safe and fabulous time with your friends and family. Take care.



About the Author

Jenny Bristow is the CEO and Founder of Hedy & Hopp. Prior to starting Hedy & Hopp, Jenny launched, grew and sold a digital agency in Seattle and worked at Amazon. She was named one of St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 under 30, won a Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and speaks regularly at healthcare marketing industry events.

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