So you wanna be a…Healthcare Recruiter

Looking for a TA career change but not too sure how to get there? Our ‘So you wanna be a…‘ series takes a look at some of the more niche TA roles and digs deep into the who, how, and why behind them. We chat with some of your favourite TA leaders in that space to find out how they got started, what their role really looks like, and what tips and tricks they have for other TA superstars looking to get a foot in the door.

In this issue, we sat down with Cathy Portelli, Director Talent Acquisition, People & Culture Advisory and Volunteer Services @ Eastern Health to find out what really goes on in the life of a healthcare recruiter.

How does being a healthcare recruiter differ from being a recruiter in other sectors?

There are a lot of similarities for talent acquisition/recruiters no matter what industry/sector you work in because it’s all about making those connections, engaging people and providing a positive candidate and manager experience.  It’s about the attraction branding piece and what that looks like for your organisation and how that becomes a magnet for attracting great talent. 

I would say that as a healthcare recruiter you need to be prepared to be quite agile as things can change quickly; the past 2 years has been a prime example of this. It’s also necessary to be innovative when it comes to sourcing and attracting candidates given the current challenges with the shortage of healthcare workers. 

Lastly, it’s important that we’re passionate about helping others because ultimately it’s all about our patients, people, and community.

How important is it to have an understanding of the wider healthcare sector to be successful in what you do?

I believe having a well-rounded and informed understanding of your wider industry sector is important for any successful recruiter no matter what sector they are in.

With healthcare changing constantly it’s important as a recruiter to be informed, especially when engaging with our leaders who are entrusting us to be knowledgeable and have an awareness of what is happening in the broader healthcare sector, and more importantly an understanding of how we function as an organisation.

What are some of the biggest challenges you come across in your everyday work?

Being part of a large public health service with over 11,000 employees and having quite a lean (but highly productive) talent acquisition team, one of our biggest challenges is balancing the needs of our leaders/managers – who are under significant operational pressures – with being able to help support them all equally in a way that is beneficial, gives them time back in their day and provides positive recruitment results. 

The competitive healthcare recruitment market is a constant challenge. Not only is it important to continue to adapt and remain innovative, it is also essential to remain connected to your network groups outside of your organisation to share, learn from and benchmark with.

What do you love most about your job?

What I love most about my job has to be the people, my team, all our employees & volunteers, our past employees (alumni) and our future people. 

The core of Talent Acquisition and what & how we function has to be about people; whether that be our current people, our future people or our people who have left our organisation. Over the last 2 years, throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, I have been most humbled by our retired staff who come out of retirement and returned to our workforce to help support our workforce and make a difference in very challenging times.

Are there any particular qualities that you think are required for anyone working as a healthcare recruiter?

I think firstly having an altruistic motivation is needed. Working In healthcare can be incredibly rewarding, our people are passionate about what they do and that’s why they do what they do. Being empathic and displaying kindness is equally important when engaging with our leaders. 

Whilst it can be a very rewarding industry, it can also be challenging and changing constantly so having the ability to be flexible, innovative and agile is essential as a healthcare recruiter.

What kind of working relationship do you have with the rest of the HR team? What about your working relationship with the wider organisation?

I consider myself to be a collaborative and engaged leader, I value what all my teams have to say and encourage their innovative thoughts and ideas. As a member of the People & Culture leadership team I get to work closely with all areas of People & Culture, I place significant importance on these relationships and the prominence they play helping to guide the direction of talent acquisition and the synergies with their respective areas.

My relationships with the wider organisation are vital in ensuring Talent Acquisition continues to play an essential role in workforce discussion and planning and continues to help support/influence the direction we take as an organisation in meeting our workforce needs now and in the future.

The last two years have been tough for anyone working in the talent acquisition space. How has a global pandemic, frequent lockdowns, and a move towards people wanting more hybrid work options impacted the type of work you are doing right now?

I think as a team we have missed that ‘human’ contact. Even though we have still been able to provide the same level of service to our stakeholders via virtual means, that face-to-face component is what my team enjoy the most. 

Having said that we have successfully transitioned a lot of what we do into a virtual landscape during the pandemic. This includes our recruitment workshops for our leaders and our education/training sessions for our HR system. We look forward to some of these returning to in-person workshops in the near future. 

I am also mindful that being a health service provider, the majority of our staff are on-site and in patient facing roles so a hybrid work model is not an option for them. To help support them more my team have recommenced site visits, which involves a talent acquisition advisor being on a hospital site for the day so that our leaders can come to us in person for recruitment advice or assistance.

Cathy’s Cheat Sheet for Aspiring Healthcare recruiters

What are some of the actionable things you can do if you want to be a Healthcare Recruiter? Here are some suggestions from Cathy of who to follow, what to use, and where to seek out your info.

Do you have any industry experts or influencers you follow?

I follow a lot of industry experts and influencers, as a talent acquisition leader it is so important to continue to grow and learn from others, I have enjoyed some of Barbara Bruno’s work and always look forward to Hung Lee’s updates.  I rely a lot on my recruiters in health network group which consists of other talent acquisition leaders in healthcare in Victoria, this group has been pivotal for benchmarking and general discussion.

Absolute must-use productivity and tech tools to make your life so much easier?

If I had an unlimited budget my list would be endless.  I am a huge fan of Xref (online reference checking tool), I have used this platform in a previous organisation and now my current organisation. 

Newsletter and event recommendations to keep the brain ticking over and your network fresh?

I do a lot of reading especially about talent acquisition trends and new technology initiatives as well as attending a variety of webinars (or when able, in-person events) with presenters from a variety of industry sectors.  As a talent acquisition leader who likes to stay informed I also ensure my team are provided with the same opportunity.  I really enjoy the ATC Museletter which always has some interesting and relevant topic discussions.

Is there a specific niche area of recruitment you’d like to know more about. Email us and let us know.

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