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Physician and Healthcare Job Board

Focus on Career Development to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

How your institution competes in the marketplace for talent depends on a host of factors. There may be many facilities in the area vying for candidates; you may be geographically distanced; wages may impact your ability to hire. The way you recruit and retain talent may depend on these and other factors. Putting any advantage possible in the ‘plus’ column for your institution is key to acquiring the best possible talent for every department in your facility.

One way to attract job seekers is to provide pathways for their future. The job you hold today is important; where it will take you is critical. Candidates are in a stronger position in the market these days. Beyond immediate rewards, they’re taking a longer view of their career when deciding where to apply for a job and whose offer they should accept.

Considering the competitive nature of recruitment, existing staff may only be able to resist the temptation to leave your facility if there’s ample reason for them to stay. More than the stability and familiarity of their current position, they want to know what the future holds for them. Your institution can play a key part in realizing their vision or watch them move on to one that does. Career development is key to recruit and retain top talent.


Career development is a recruitment tool

Job postings

Advertising is your first touch point for recruitment and should highlight your commitment to career growth prominently. Don’t bury tuition reimbursement in your benefits listing at the bottom of the ad: place it, and the other career development tools you provide, high up in the listing and outlined specifically. The candidate who’s looking for a long-term position will recognize you’re looking to make an investment in a long-term hire.



An old saw in the recruitment game is the question ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ The answer generally didn’t carry much weight in the decision to hire. In today’s market, the question is not only relevant, but necessary and actionable – with perhaps a change to two or three years instead of five. A survey from the National Health Service (NHS) found learning and development opportunities are the top attribute nurses look for in a new employer.

Even at the earliest stages of the hiring process, candidates want to know your facility is investing for the long-term. Bump that question up on your list of inquiries to a candidate. When a job seeker responds, be ready to follow up with ‘This is how we can get you there.’

Recruiters don’t have to be fluent in every way candidates can achieve their career goals; but they must refer the request to get more information on specific career growth to whomever is taking the next step in the interview process. Recruiters should provide a brief outline of the institution’s commitment to realizing career pathways and let the candidate know they’re highlighting the issue to be discussed in depth with the next, more knowledgeable, person in the hiring process. Make sure to follow-through with the next interviewers so they’re ready to answer specific questions about training and growth opportunities.


Career development is a retention tool

Career growth should be encouraged and promoted to all staff. More than recertification or training on new protocols or equipment, lifelong learning should be a professional priority. The NHS survey also found providing nurses with ongoing learning can increase engagement and reduce turnover.

Set expectations high: ask employees to work with their supervisor, HR and Learning and Development (if you have an L&D team) to build a career trajectory that’s attainable. Then follow through, providing resource as you guide and advise staff members on each step along their path.


Supporting growth

Demonstrate the value of learning by setting aside time in the employee’s workday to develop and grow their skill set. When you incentivize training, employees will respond and participate. When they do, you increase their value to the institution and their professional growth.


Targeting those at risk

Check your data – who is at highest risk for flight? Comb through the last two to three years of employee information. When are you losing staff? Are the newest hires – one to three years -most likely to resign? Are long-haul employees with over 10 years on the job leaving for greener pastures? Identifying these high-risk employees is a first step in targeting career development to retain them. Look at why they’re leaving, and how you can break the pattern with opportunities to grow with your facility, instead of elsewhere.


Career development has never been more relevant. As healthcare systems and delivery evolve, institutions will rely more heavily on staff members who adapt quickly to change and demand. Lifelong staff learning should be a priority for every employee and facility – from recruitment to retirement.

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years. Connect with Riia on Twitter at @RiiaOD.

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