Future demand and hiring difficulties require new approaches for filling positions

Despite five generations now being in the workforce, an aging population means the demand for nurses will only grow while the prospect of filling all those positions will only become more difficult.

As a result, innovative approaches to hiring nurses will be crucial for human resources departments and administrators charged with the recruiting task.

Consider the fact that, according to a US Census Report report in 2014, there is forecast to be 83.7 million residents age 65 or older by 2050, nearly double the approximately 43.1 million in that age group in 2012.

Hiring nurses to meet demand will become dire even before 2050, however. By 2022, for example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the nation will require over 1 million new nurses to care for aging Americans as well as to replace retiring nurses. Meanwhile, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in its 2018-2019 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing report, notes that US nursing schools had to turn away over 75,000 qualified applicants from such programs last year because of a lack of enough faculty, clinical sites, classroom facilities, and other issues.

Adding to these difficulties is that fact that the hiring process overall has actually become more onerous, despite the use of technology.

Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, says the ability for job candidates to submit applications electronically has overwhelmed many employers, “and companies responded with software that screens applications cheaply and quickly—and in many cases, too aggressively.”

A combination of stringent requirements for any application to avoid automatic rejection and many companies’ muted interest in people actively seeking jobs has turned these systems “into black holes for applicants,” he says.

Filling positions has taken longer, too. As Capelli notes, surveys by employers over the years have found that more steps have been added to the selection process—an increase in the rounds of interviews, drug and background tests, and a general inefficiency in securing permission to hire from financial controllers interested in keeping staffing lean. He cites a study by Indeed.com in 2015 that found that job candidates are put off by having to clear too many hurdles: The number of people applying for jobs fell 50% when online applications had more than 30 questions.

In trying to negotiate such an environment to hire nurses, ChrysMarie Suby, President-CEO of the Labor Management Institute, which published its 29th PSS Annual Survey of Hours Report for healthcare, recommends these innovations for those attempting to hire nurses:

  • Provide career classes/clinics related to nursing or hold a seminar or class about an important “hot” topic related to your unit or service-line to meet new nurses who may potentially want to join your team.
  • Go to healthcare-centered job fairs to meet qualified candidates interested in joining your team.
  • Use as many digital job boards as you can. Digital job boards play an increasing role in how prospective employees search for jobs in 2019 and it will only increase in the future. Some job boards are fee-based because they offer “filter tools” to help find only the most ideal candidates that meet your requirements and descriptions and help you avoid unqualified candidates.
  • Work with your human resources departments to fix organizational reviews on social media, and have managers fix their unit reviews. She cites a Glassdoor study that found a job applicant will read six reviews before applying for a job. Bad reviews make a greater impression than a great job description and deter candidates from applying.
  • Use search engines sites such as Yahoo and Google, among others, to advertise job openings. Paying for the advertisements can be cost-justified if it attracts just one or two quality applicants, especially if it leads to a faster time-to-fill ratio when it comes to vacant positions.


Alex McKeown

As a founder and CEO of FusionRL, Alex Mckeown has over ten years of marketing, analytics and product positioning experience in technology-based organizations selling through B2C and eCommerce channels. His developer skills have allowed for the creation of both multi-channel and SaaS-based software platforms that have transformed the standard business operations in mobile recruiting and candidate engagement. Alex holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Florida Atlantic University, as well as Advanced Marketing Strategy & Digital Marketing Certificates from Cornell University and he has completed the Wyncode Accelerated Full-Stack Development Program.