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Hiring Tips from a Healthcare Talent Acquisition Professional

Illustration of a stethoscope and two band-aids
Illustration by Marian Blair

When it comes to social-impact work, healthcare is bigger than you might think. According to Urban Institute, health-focused organizations—which include hospitals and primary-care facilities—are one of the largest nonprofit fields, comprising 12% of the sector and holding 43% of its assets. Not only that, but 24% of U.S. hospitals are for-profit businesses.

But what does it mean to work in this area, and what are hiring managers looking for? To explore these questions, we spoke with Julene Campion, former Director of Talent Acquisition at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). She is now Vice President of Recruitment, Talent Development, Organization Development, and Learning for Geisinger, an organization based in Danville, Pennsylvania with 26,000 worldwide employees. And while this interview actually took place back in 2015, her insights on how job seekers and HR professionals alike can make the most of the hiring process remain relevant and valuable. 

In the past, you have emphasized the importance of job seekers aligning their personal beliefs and passions with the organization’s mission. How can job seekers do this more effectively?

They should be asking themselves, ”What issues or causes do I find myself drawn to? What magazines do I want to pick up and read? Why?” When you’re around something you are committed to, you’ll find yourself excited and engaged in the work. It can also take some trial and error to find what’s right. I didn’t initially want to work in healthcare. It evolved; it’s really about caring for members of our community.

Can you share a story of a time a candidate stood out to you? What did they do to set themselves apart?

One person had great self-awareness of what her strengths were and what she needed to develop. Usually when we ask someone, “What are your strengths and areas for development?” they say they take on too much work or that they are perfectionists. This doesn’t really demonstrate self-awareness. I want to hear specifically what areas you are strong in, what areas you aren’t, and how you hold yourself accountable for your personal development.

This person in particular noted that she was a harmonizer and great at helping to defuse conflict. Her areas of development were strategic thinking and decision quality. She had specific examples of how she tries to improve this.

What’s a common mistake you see among job seekers?

How they apply. Don’t just apply for a job because you can’t stand your current job. It’s really about the candidate and job match. Target your job search. When you’re aligned with the job and the organization’s mission, your resume and cover letter are aligned, too. I’ve seen resumes where they simply cut and paste from the job posting and embed keywords into a resume. That’s not authentic, and doesn’t demonstrate your unique talents.

When I’m looking at a resume, I build a “brand” of that person in my mind. Every aspect of that resume either confuses or confirms that brand. When you show up for the interview, you must demonstrate behaviors and competencies that back up that brand.

What do you wish interviewees asked you?

I wish they asked me what my leadership style is like and what I expect. They are interviewing us as much as we’re interviewing them. I want them to confirm that this feels like the right match for them. I also wished they asked, “How will I know I’m successful in this job in a year?” Use the interview to establish expectations.

Finally, I have candidates meet the team without me in the room. I wish employers and interviewees alike would talk about teams and get to know the players on the team. For interviewees, talk about where your strengths could help the team do better things. For employers, let candidates know what kind of team they are going to be joining. Ask yourself, “What could they add to our team, and what could that team add to them?”

All three of these questions would help job seekers understand the people you’ll work for and with, the job you’ll have to accomplish, and what kind of team they’re going to be playing on.

Where do most of your hires come from? Job referrals? Online applications?

First, we have a few groups of hires. Nurses are a huge piece of our talent community. And then there are professionals like therapists, and non-clinical professionals as well.

At LVHN, we would get over 50,000 applications a year. It’s really hard to just put an application in and stand out, so there is definitely something to networking. We would also get people from college relationships and memberships. In healthcare, credentialing is very important. For non-clinical positions, you’re working next to PhDs and MDs, so it’s not only your education but your certifications and professional memberships that make a difference.

However, despite any professional memberships you may have, I can’t just take your resume and give you a job. But if I keep running into you at events and meetings, you’re going to be the first person I call. 

What aspects of the job search do candidates focus on that aren’t really that important to you?

There’s no need to spend too much time looking for the hiring manager’s name. Also, I sometimes get packages with resumes and brochures from people after they’ve already applied for a job. I can’t even look at it. I have to toss it. They did a lot of work to put that together, but because of the legality of giving preference to someone doing work above and beyond what most job seekers might be able to do, I have to put it aside. Spend your time on conveying your personal brand through a cover letter, resume, and by networking.

You should save “above and beyond” for when you’re an actual candidate. If you’re invited to interview and you want to bring something in like a project, presentation, or other visuals to demonstrate your ability to do the job, I highly recommend that.

Finally, don’t stress about trying to figure out why you weren’t hired. Instead, spend time developing your personal brand and seeking the next best match for you.

What do you expect to see from a new hire 30 days after employment? Three months? One year?

I expect you to be building relationships. You can’t get anything done alone these days.

Many of the expectations will depend on your job, but you should be highly proficient in your job duties within the first year, at a minimum. A great way to figure out your goals is to sit with your manager to clarify expectations. Also ask yourself, “How will I become proficient so I can operate on my own 90% of the time?” Employers need talented individuals who can add value from day one.

What’s one trait that all candidates need if they want to work in healthcare regardless of role?

You have to have some desire to be helpful to others. Even if you’re an IT person, you have to care about the health and well-being of others.

What misconceptions do people have about working in healthcare?

You don’t have to be a clinician to work in healthcare. We have IT, fundraising, marketing, PR, finance, HR, sales, and business development. Whatever your specialty, you can translate your skills to a role in healthcare.

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Thanks so much for your insights, Julene!

by Allison Jones

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