We’re constantly bombarded with information about gen X, gen Y, and now gen Z in mainstream media. So much so that they are an obvious topic of discussion when it comes to planning a recruitment strategy. But there’s another generation that we may be overlooking that will have a big impact on your business in the next ten years: baby boomers (people born during the post-World War II baby boom between the years 1946 and 1964). The retirement of baby boomers affects the workforce planning and forecasting in general, but it will have a particularly significant effect on the healthcare sector.

Here’s why:

By 2029, when the last of the baby boomers reach retirement age, the number of Americans 65 or older will climb to more than 71 million, which is a 73 percent increase, according to Census Bureau. These figures mean that there will be more patients to care for than ever before, and with more chronic illnesses. Patients will need more care than families as a whole can give, leading to the demand for in-home care or assisted living options.

Although people aged 65 and older represent only 12 percent of the population, the following depicts the portion of healthcare they account for:

  • 26% of physician office visits
  • 35% of hospital stays
  • 34% of prescriptions
  • 38% of emergency medical responses
  • 90% of nursing home use

To further the importance of the issue, USA Today’s “The New Nursing Shortage,” noted “A cohort of nurses entered the profession in the 1970s have aged into their 60s and are getting ready to retire, Peter McMenamin, [senior policy fellow and health economist at the American Nurses Association] says. So, between now and 2022, not only will there be an expected half-million nursing jobs from growing demand — but also other half-million nurses will retire and need to be replaced.” The shocking shortage of talent we face is alarming, and if these organizations fail to plan ahead, what will they do? Another critical aspect of nursing is the shortage of faculty at nursing schools, “Plus, it’s tough to replace aging faculty at nursing schools with well-paid nurse practitioners and midwives. Taking teaching jobs over well-paying gigs at hospitals is a tough sell — the pay loss for many of the faculty would be as much as $20,000–$30,000 a year. In fact, Robert Rosseter, a spokesperson for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, said that almost 79,000 qualified applicants turned away from nursing programs last year because of faculty shortages.”

A viable resource for healthcare HR departments to consider would be an RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) partner. RPO can take over the hiring function for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, clinics, and so on, from start to finish. RPOs work as an extension of the organization and have the capability to brand as that healthcare institution, creating the seamlessness of having additional recruiters on-site with scalable functionality. With the focus on strategic talent acquisition, more time can be dedicated to networking and creative methods to find qualified candidates. This means more strategic sourcing, relationship-building, employment branding, and impacting hiring demands quickly.

Those who have experience in healthcare recruiting know that the strategy is unique. It’s not just about filling positions by finding resumes in the usual mainstream candidate sources. It’s about building relationships and offering assistance to candidates. It’s also about having a sense of knowing what culture fits to match the organization and will increase patient satisfaction. Healthcare talent acquisition plans need to be different, and here’s how:

Build partnerships with colleges. In healthcare recruiting, specifically nursing, establishing relationships with colleges that offer RN programs is paramount. There is an extreme demand for nursing candidates, so recruiters need to get in front of future nurses in the infancy of their program, sometimes even within the first year, to be successful. Offering to help with interviewing skills, resume writing, and how to navigate niche job boards will show students that your employer is willing to provide valuable services. Students who will be future graduates two to four years down the road will remember this and will have your company top of mind. Their entire career is service-oriented, and they will remember when a company did the same, thus proving it has desirable values.

Know your specialties. In working with nurses, knowing the differences between a med-tele RN and a PCU RN is essential. Can a critical care RN do the same as a post-op RN? Knowing these specialties and how they can interchange will help you widen search efforts, which is necessary to get the largest candidate pool. Utilizing recruiters who have extensive experience recruiting these roles and/or have worked the roles themselves will ensure your recruitment efforts are targeting the appropriate people for your needs.

Utilize cutting-edge technology. There are a plethora of assessment options, and RPO partners are typically at the forefront of technologies. These assessments can be customized for nursing specialties, industry-specific, and behavioral, providing the best-rounded understanding of candidates being considered. Additionally, assessments come with features such as reference checking, which is essential for assessing the quality-of-hire. It’s important to select a vendor that best fits your organization’s hiring needs.

Develop your networks. Most nurses are found before they put themselves into a talent community. There will not be an excess of nurses on job boards like CareerBuilder/Indeed/ZipRecruiter to choose from, so passive candidate sourcing is an absolute must. Additionally, investing in niche nursing job boards, although sometimes a bit pricey, will prove to be a more valuable resource. Some such successful niche boards include Nursing Job Cafe, HEALTHeCAREERS, and Nurse Recruiter. Recruiters should also go beyond job boards and implement social media recruitment, join in-person and online communities, and build relationships to secure candidate and/or employee referrals.

Gone are the days of posting positions on your company’s website and having an abundance of resumes to sort through. Healthcare companies especially will need to be proactive in their searches rather than reactive. Otherwise, they will lose candidates to organizations that have implemented aggressive direct sourcing strategies, and most importantly, lose high-level patient care due to understaffing.