What’s it like working as a healthcare recruiter right now?

We all know how challenging it is working in talent acquisition right now. The Great Resignation, the battle for talent (and subsequent salary wars), border restrictions, and growing skills shortages are just some of the issues caused by the global pandemic which have impacted almost every recruiters’ workload. In fact, the 2021 State of Talent Acquisition Report found that almost 60% of TA professionals were heading towards a state of burnout.

So what happens when you’re a recruiter working in healthcare, an industry that is copping the brunt of the pressure, exhaustion, and stress of the pandemic? As frontline healthcare staff in Australia and New Zealand continue to face extraordinary pressures, we sat down with three healthcare recruiters to find out what it’s really like to maintain and develop their workforces right now, and the areas of priority they are focussing on.

We remind ourselves that it’s all about the people

Cathy Portelli, Director Talent Acquisition, People & Culture, Eastern Health (Victoria)

“Over the past 12 months we have experienced some of the most challenging, agile, emotional and rewarding times as a talent acquisition team in Public Health.  The trajectory my team has taken has pivoted many times in response to our organisation needs and demands placed on us by COVID-19. Our biggest challenge has been our need to remain agile and to continually remind ourselves that it’s all about the people; our employees & volunteers, our alumni and our future workforce.”

There has never been a better time for recruiters to add value to the health sector

Matt Pontin, Regional Director – Workforce Development & Training, Northern Regional Alliance Limited (New Zealand)

“There has always been a global shortage of health professionals. This is partly due to impacted workforce development pipelines around training, including the number of people in pipeline, the time it takes to train, and the time it takes to complete vocational or post-graduate training to qualify. There has also always been a globally competitive market for health professionals, and this amplifies mobility and further impacts the pipeline.

“The pandemic has significantly squeezed this market further. International mobility and border closures have restricted the recruitment of skilled and experienced talent. The workforce has been stretched considerably and fatigue is a real issue, with many opting to consider their longer-term options. The world has leaned on an already under-staffed and often under-valued and under-rewarded sector.

“Recruiters now face global sourcing challenges, coupled with the need to advocate for an escalation in a more localised workforce development strategy. Growing your own for the future simply has to be the way forward in this environment of scarcity and mobility restrictions.

“Now more than ever, recruiters in health need to partner, to understand, work alongside, and input into strategic workforce forecasting and development initiatives. There has never been a more exciting time to be in the health sector, and there will never be a better time for recruiters to add value.”

Our focus is on moving quickly and encouraging compassion and understanding

Bronwen Bitmead, Human Resources Project Advisor, Sonic Health Plus (Western Australia)

“COVID has presented an array of interesting challenges over the last two years. The reduced mobility of employees has resulted in many vacancies remaining unfilled, placing increasing pressures on existing team members. Border closures have made it difficult to attract employees and have also contributed to issues with training and inducting employees, especially where face-to-face interaction is required. 

“Recruiting healthcare professionals is even more challenging with so many opportunities available – the focus is on moving quickly, developing a compelling EVP, and encouraging leaders to be compassionate and understanding. Covid has also created many opportunities, and we’ve seen the rapid rise of agile working practices and a level of dedication from some employees which has been evident in their ability to adapt and grow with the business.

“2022 is shaping up to be another challenging year for recruiters – one that will see recruiters become even more flexible and tenacious.”

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