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Optimize Your Job Listings to Attract the Right Candidates


With millions newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, hiring needs are expected to increase in 2014, which means your practice may be looking to expand. However, if you’re a small organization, you may not have an HR department to solve staffing demands. In fact, you may be a doctor who (in addition to patient care) is responsible for overseeing your practice’s job posting and recruiting efforts.

Finding the right employees for your practice is important—but the first step is making sure the right candidate finds you. Job seekers today conduct online keyword searches (e.g. “nurse practitioner jobs in San Diego”) to find openings. If you don’t include commonly searched keywords, your posting may not show up in the search engines. This means candidates are unlikely to come across your posting in their job hunt, leaving you with a smaller pool of qualified applicants from which to choose.

Using basic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to create job listings that contain the right keywords isn’t hard, and it can significantly boost your results. According to Jason Lovelace, president of CareerBuilder Healthcare and a contributor at The Hiring Site, “A job listing with appropriate messaging and optimized for SEO usually sees a 50 to 70 percent lift in response rate versus simple generic text.”

In this article, we highlight best practices from recruiting and healthcare career experts for creating and optimizing job postings that attract the right candidates.

Use Specific Terminology to Describe Positions

To identify which relevant keywords to include in a job posting, providers first need to understand how healthcare workers typically search for jobs. Leonard Palomino, vice president of client services for Simply Hired, recently conducted data analysis that found healthcare recruiters frequently use the wrong terminology to attract candidates.

According to Palomino, recruiters post job descriptions containing very general healthcare terms (e.g. “medical” and “care”), while job seekers search using words related to specific job roles they’ll be filling (e.g. “nurse,” “technician” and “pharmacist”). He writes:

This data tells us that job seekers are very focused in their searches. They likely know what role they are looking for and what specialty, if any. In the age of online search, writing job descriptions is about more than accurately representing a position’s responsibilities and requirements. It’s about being found.

Kristy Stromberg, senior vice president of marketing for Simply Hired and a contributor on the Simply Hired blog, believes this research provides a basic marketing lesson for providers: “Know your audience, and know what language they might use,” she says. “Be as specific as possible.”

For getting to know your audience better, your practice’s current employees can be an invaluable resource—especially those with responsibilities related to your job openings. Stromberg recommends that doctors sit down with current staff and talk with them about their positions.

“If you’re looking for a nurse with a particular specialty, there may be a specific way nurses talk about it,” she explains. Write down the specific words and phrases employees use to describe their job, and ask what keywords they would use in searching for a similar job online.

Identify Relevant Keywords for Each Position

Using Palomino’s Simply Hired analysis, the healthcare industry trends tool and data from the Bureau of Labor Healthcare Statistics, we’ve compiled the keywords healthcare candidates are most likely to search for in 2014.

Use the table below to incorporate relevant keywords into your job descriptions, making sure to think through variations of words used to search for the same, or similar, positions.

Top Healthcare Keywords

Top clinical keywordsNursing: nursing, nurse, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, medical assistant, nursing assistant, hospice, surgery.

Physicians: primary care, pathologist, pediatric, researcher, lab, hospitalist, surgery, psychiatrist.

Technologists: radiologic, radiation, radiology tech, sonographer, diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiovascular technologists, vascular technologists, ultrasound, nuclear, phlebotomist, patient care technician, technician.

Other keywords: physician assistant, social worker, case management, case manager, pharmacist, pharmacy, dietitian, therapist.
Top administrative keywordsCoordinator, manager, coding, coder, trainer, records, medical receptionist, receptionist, medical records clerk.
Top abbreviated wordsCNA (certified nursing aide), LPN (licensed practical nurse), LVN (licensed vocational nurse), RN (registered nurse), EMT (emergency medical technician) EKG or ECG (electrocardiogram), CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetists).
Other keywords to considerWork/life balance, part time, travel, ICD-10 coders (replacing ICD-9 October 1, 2014).

Lovelace says to avoid “flooding” the job posting text with keywords; instead, you need to integrate keywords so that they flow naturally with the text.

For example, if you’re looking to add “office manager” to a description, you can revise a sentence from, “the person in this position will be required to oversee billing” to “the office manager will be required to oversee billing.” Being smart about placement allows you to incorporate (and repeat) keywords without sounding like a broken record.

Along with the full title of a position, it’s also important to use common abbreviations. According to Indeed’s analysis, the keyword “registered nurse” had 469,029 searches a month, while the abbreviation “RN” had nearly a third more with 703,398. Include both the full title and abbreviation in your headline and description.

On that note, Kyle Power, director of interactive marketing at CHG Healthcare Services, points out the importance of writing a compelling headline that explains the job.

Power says the headline “Great Emergency Opportunity in Small Private Practice in Cincinnati, Ohio” would draw candidates by providing specifics on the job category, the medical setting and the city. These specifics are likely to stand out when candidates are scrolling long lists of results.

Appeal to the Motivations of Healthcare Employees

In addition to containing relevant keywords and information, your job listings should target the core motivations of healthcare workers: helping to improve the health and well-being of others and contributing to the greater good.

“Pay is important, but it’s not the end-all, be-all,” Lovelace says. “You want to make sure you’re highlighting the other aspects, too. Talk about how the position impacts others, the success of the practice and the philosophy behind the position.”

The Anatomy of a Bad Job Posting

A quick search of “RN” jobs in Boston, MA turned up the below posting for a part-time mother baby nurse. Let’s break down why it’s an example of what not to do when creating a job listing.

To start, the title, “RN-MOTHER BABY UNIT,” prevents the post from showing up when we perform the same search with “registered nurse” instead of “RN.” It also fails to mention anything compelling about the position, and is visually jarring with letters that are all capitalized. With minimal changes, this headline could be revised to the following: Registered nurse (RN) for caring, compassionate mother baby unit.

The second issue is the under-developed “job details” section, which misses opportunities to attract experienced candidates.

This position requires candidates to have a very specific background, but the post uses only five keywords related to mother baby nursing. A quick search of similar postings identified a range of keywords one could include, such as “infants,” “baby-friendly,” “family-centered,” “birth,” “birthing center,” “postpartum,” “neonatal,” “perinatal,” “labor,” “delivery” and “OB/GYN.”

Including this terminology increases the likelihood that candidates who are highly qualified and have a passion for this specialty would come across this posting in their search.

Finally, the job posting has a fundamental communication issue: it lists the basic background requirements, but nothing more—no details about what the position entails or what makes the practice unique.

As Lovelace says, “People want something to believe in; in essence, ‘Why should I work for this practice?’ Of course, you have salary and benefits and all of these wonderful things, but when you get down to it, they want to know what makes your practice stand out.”

Consider the following post that advertises a mother baby nursing job in the same region. The “job details” section uses keywords and messaging to its best advantage, including specifics about the workplace and benefits of working for the organization.

The Worst Job Posting Mistakes to Avoid

You can increase your practice’s credibility and appeal by avoiding the mistakes many providers make in the job posting process. According to our experts, here are the biggest offenses to steer clear of:

Copying and pasting. Even though it’s easy to copy and paste from another company (and tempting when time is of the essence), Lovelace says you should never copy and paste text from another posting. “Be unique, be authentic,” he says. “Highlight your particular practice.”

Uploading your internal job description. Most practices have their own internal documents describing the roles they’re hiring for, which are meant for administrative reference. One of the most common mistakes small practices make is uploading the description from these internal documents, which aren’t usually written with the candidate in mind. Instead, Lovelace says, practices should create a unique job posting for job sites, designed to target and attract job-seekers.

Using internal abbreviations or acronyms. While it’s recommended to include common industry-wide abbreviations, it’s another story when it comes to language specific to your organization. “You may have acronyms for positions in your organization, such as ‘OM’ for office manager, but it won’t come when someone searches for that position because Google won’t recognize it,” Lovelace explains.

Trying to be clever or cute. Some providers may try to be clever in the headline to grab the reader’s attention. Power gives the example of one headline that read: “Make Big Cheese in Wisconsin.” The problem, he says, is this tells the candidate nothing about the job role, responsibilities or background requirements. Focus your energy instead on making your headline as informative and engaging as possible.

If you’re a practice looking to expand, the first step in hiring top-notch employees is to making sure candidates can find your job postings when they search online for available openings. By using relevant keywords, industry-specific terminology and appealing to motivations of healthcare workers, you can help your organization acquire a large pool of highly qualified applicants to choose from and increase the chances of making the right hire.

“Jobs Help Wanted” created by photologue_np used under CC BY / Resized

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About the Author

Noel Radley joined Software Advice as a Managing Editor in 2014. Currently, she focuses on the field of project management, and is developing a new blog that will aim to be a leading publication for PM professionals, as well as PM software and industry trends.

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