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There is no magic formula for attracting the best applicants to your agency, but using a combination of marketing tools to reach nurses with news of job openings will help you find the people you want, according to Don Richardson, vice president of administration for the Visiting Nurse Association of Texas in Dallas. His agency uses a combination of newspaper and periodical advertising, job fairs, referral bonuses, on-line recruitment, and direct mail to reach potential employees.
Keep the approach fresh
"It’s important to vary your recruitment efforts so that your approach stays fresh and so that you can evaluate which method works," Richardson points out. The referral bonus, for example, always is run as a short, usually 60-day program during which employees get a cash bonus for referring a candidate who is hired, he says. "The referral program is not a huge success that always results in a lot of job applicants, but it is another tool for us to use, and the applicants we get through referrals from other employees are always appropriate in terms of experience and skills," he says.
Your print advertising also should be evaluated on a continuing basis, says Coleen Conway-Svec, RN, MS, MBA, chief operating officer of the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan in Oak Park. Although she isn’t spending any more money on advertising than she did two years ago, her ads are more effective after a redesign in which more white space and graphics were added to make the add stand out among other help-wanted ads, she says. "The new ads get more attention, and we get plenty of qualified applicants when we run them," Conway-Svec says.
Once someone responds to the advertisement, be sure you present the right message, Richardson adds. "You must make the job applicant feel like you really want them. When a job applicant comes into our office, we roll out the red carpet and make sure they know that we think they are important," he explains. "We greet them as soon as they come in to the office, we don’t leave them sitting in the waiting area for a long time, and we show them that we respect their time and their interest in our agency." These efforts do pay off, he says.
"This is the way we want our nurses to treat our patients, so we need to treat them in the same manner when we first meet them as applicants," Richardson points out.