By Aaron Elder, CEO & Co-Founder, Crelate

America’s healthcare industry has been massively impacted over the past year as the pandemic caused a colossal surge in COVID patients, pushing hospital capacity levels to the brink. It also prompted burnout among healthcare workers across the country as they worked around the clock to save countless lives. According to NBC News and a survey conducted during the height of the pandemic by nursing app Holliblu, the mental and physical anguish experienced by care teams caused many to rethink their career, with 62% of more than 1,000 respondents saying they were planning to quit their jobs or leave the profession altogether. 

Even though the shortage of doctors and nurses started before the pandemic, industry leaders are dealing with the pandemic’s side effects, exposing some gaps in the healthcare system. As COVID cases fall and last year’s despair begins to fade, leaders are left focusing on reviving the industry and setting their sights on a brighter future. However, industry experts should expect that the rebuild will not be without its challenges.

The critical problem that leaders are running into as the industry positions itself for post-pandemic life is finding people to restaff the critical roles left vacant from the pandemic-induced mass exodus. As recruiters in the healthcare industry focus on rebuilding front-line teams, they find a massively challenging scenario on two fronts. First, that nearly every competitor for qualified candidates is hiring simultaneously. Second, burnout from the pandemic greatly affected healthcare systems, causing large-scale career switching from the existing talent pool. 

To be successful in this environment, hiring managers need to think beyond traditional recruitment processes and to make identifying otherwise-overlooked, quality candidates a core competency.

One critical paradigm shift for both leaders and recruiters is to stop looking for perfect and obvious experience and focus instead on an applicant’s “transferable velocity.” Simply put, looking beyond what is on paper to sniff out the candidate’s both obvious and non-obvious career momentum or potential. 

For both external agencies and HR departments to succeed in these unprecedented times, they need to put candidate dedication, motivation, and grit above what is stated on an oversimple resume or application. To meet those candidates with both an open, yet discerning and structured evaluation process, as well as excellent training.

Rather than rigidly reviewing a candidate’s past job titles and daily tasks, focusing on transferable velocity helps managers evaluate whether past or personal achievements and transferable skill sets will make that person successful for your business and a specific role. This pushes hiring managers to look deeper into the candidate’s accomplishments in past positions, their handling of past obstacles, and their ability to meet new or unfamiliar challenges successfully. 

More challenging than the obvious hiring playbook, perhaps, but certainly worth the effort when the alternative is an understaffed team and under-supported patients, while viable talent goes overlooked.

As a hypothetical example, take the candidate who worked for a year as a registered nurse (RN) in New York City before the pandemic. Their resume lists their job title and daily duties within the medical center. To the manager reviewing the candidate for a supervisory role based solely on their resume, the short career history may not seem like a viable fit. However, looking deeper and asking the right questions, the manager discovers that in one year, the RN took on a passion project with local high schools to create an apprenticeship program for recent graduates to jumpstart their medical careers, organizing and indirectly managing multiple people and priorities. You now have someone potentially primed for the position of a nurse supervisor. While not always so directly relevant, spotting this kind of promise and self-motivation can help hiring managers find emerging talent entirely worth the investment and “risk,” creating prosperity and loyalty on all sides.

To review, below are some concepts of transferable velocity to keep in mind:

  • Resumes don’t always show the full picture. 
  • It is more beneficial to focus on a candidate’s intrinsic motivation and previous achievements versus simply their past titles and job functions.
  • A candidate’s natural talent and motivation, paired with a robust onboarding and training program, create the perfect opportunity for a candidate to thrive in any industry.

How do healthcare industry recruiters gauge a candidate’s transferable velocity?

Incorporating empirical interview methods and asking behavioral and situational questions can help determine a candidate’s entire story, from where they have been to where they can go next. For example, rather than simply asking, “What did you do in your last role?” ask, “How did you do it?” and more importantly, “Why did you do it?” Hiring managers can also incorporate situational questions, such as “If X happened, what would you do?” or “How would you overcome this challenge?” 

Keep in mind that it may be uncomfortable or difficult for some candidates to open up about past challenges or failures during an interview. But these past experiences provide potentially the best insight into a person’s motivation and problem-solving abilities.

It also can be beneficial to look at the candidate’s roles and achievements in organizations outside of the workplace to determine if they could realistically transfer those experiences to a future role. This is often a moment to uncover personal investments of time and training that a candidate has pursued to close past knowledge or skill gaps. This can be a fantastic way to gauge whether an individual would be willing to put in the extra work to advance their career. 

During times of economic recovery, like the one we are currently in, tapping into transferable velocity to engage and evaluate candidates who would otherwise be overlooked benefits both the company and the applicant. Candidates who have spent the past year waiting for the storm clouds to break now have an opportunity to shine and to help employers serious about winning the war for talent as the country enters the “new normal” of post-pandemic life.

Aaron is the CEO and founder of Crelate where he brings more than 25 years of experience in product development and technology consulting, and was a lead architect in building Microsoft Dynamics CRM, one of the largest CRM platforms in the world. Aaron has spent most of his career hiring and growing developers, in both the enterprise and start-up world, with much of that time in niche technology fields.