The president of the German Nursing Council (DPR), Christine Vogler, speaks of a humanitarian nursing catastrophe, doctors warn of a practice collapse, and Germany alone is expected to have a shortage of approximately 1.8 million healthcare professionals by 2035. 
The shortage of healthcare professionals has long been a reality. HR teams, talent acquisition professionals and recruiters in healthcare organizations are working on new strategies to fill vacancies and ensure medical and nursing care for the public.
But how do you compete in a highly competitive marketplace for the limited supply of qualified professionals? This blog post highlights healthcare’s specific recruiting challenges and presents strategies to attract and retain qualified talent for the long term.
Challenges in recruiting healthcare professionals
Healthcare recruiters operate in a complex environment. They often encounter obstacles and are confronted with major challenges:
Shortage of skilled workers: The shortage of skilled workers is a widespread problem in the healthcare industry. There are not enough qualified applicants to meet the high demand. This shortage leads to overwork of existing staff and can affect the quality of patient care.
Competition for qualified staff: With many facilities, hospitals and clinics competing for the same qualified staff, it is a challenge to stand out from other employers and attract the best applicants. It is more important than ever to develop effective strategies to attract and retain qualified professionals over the long term.
Special features of the healthcare sector: Healthcare personnel must meet special requirements and qualifications. This makes the recruiting process even more challenging. It is important to find candidates who not only have the necessary medical skills, but also soft skills such as empathy, teamwork and communication.
5 strategies for successful healthcare recruiting
In a challenging environment that demands quality, care and commitment, it’s essential to employ the right recruiting strategies to attract and retain the best talent. Below, we outline five authoritative approaches that can help optimize your search for nurses and healthcare professionals.
1. Emphasize employer branding and corporate culture
A positive corporate culture and a strong employer brand are crucial for attracting qualified candidates. Existing and potential employees should be able to identify with the company’s values and goals. If this can be achieved, employees can be used as brand ambassadors to increase the attractiveness of the employer and reach people with similar values.
One way to improve the employer brand is to have an active presence on social media. Using platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram allows companies to showcase their culture and work environment and reach out to potential applicants. It is important to highlight the benefits of a career in healthcare, such as the opportunity to help others and have a positive impact on the community.
2. Leveraging digitization and technology
The use of digital recruiting tools offers many advantages for the healthcare sector. In particular, a digital employee referral program can make the recruiting process more efficient and simplify the search for suitable personnel. By using AI-powered analytics tools, organizations can identify potential candidates and make faster, more informed staffing decisions.
In addition, digitization also enables the automation of recurring tasks in the application process, such as the pre-selection of applicants or the scheduling of appointments for interviews. This saves time and resources and allows HR managers to focus on selecting the best candidates.
3. Build targeted sourcing and talent pools
Through strategic sourcing, such as collaboration with universities and technical schools or participation in job fairs, healthcare institutions can identify potential talent. Developing partnerships with educational institutions enables companies to connect with prospective professionals early on and inform them about career opportunities in healthcare.
Another approach is to build and effectively use talent pools. Companies can build databases of qualified candidates and use them to make quick, targeted hires when a position becomes available. This targeted sourcing can speed up the talent acquisition process and make the search for suitable personnel more efficient.
4. Clear communication and transparency in the recruiting process
Open and transparent communication with applicants is crucial to building trust and improving the candidate experience. This includes job descriptions with clear requirements, a transparent salary structure and open communication about the application and selection process.
Companies should also make sure to respond to applications in a timely manner and provide candidates with regular updates on the status of their application. A positive application experience can help keep applicants interested and ultimately attract qualified candidates to the company.
5. Building a strong employee referral culture
Fostering a culture in which employees actively refer potential candidates can be extremely effective in healthcare. By offering attractive incentives and rewards, healthcare facilities can encourage employees to suggest qualified candidates from their network.
By implementing a structured employee referral program, you create a win-win situation: employees feel valued and involved, while the organization benefits from high-quality referrals. These internal referrals can speed up the selection process, as there is often already a connection and trust between the referrer and the referred.
Establishing a strong employee referral culture can help attract highly qualified applicants who are a good fit for the company culture. It also promotes the engagement of the existing workforce and strengthens team spirit as they actively participate in the growth of the company.
Case study: The successful recruiting strategy of Caritas-CBT
Recommendations from existing employees were already an integral part of Caritas-CBT’s recruiting strategy. However, each referral involved a high administrative burden and the organization struggled to manage the referral process in a transparent and consistent manner.
It wasn’t until Radancy’s Employee Referral Program was implemented that referrals were seamlessly integrated into the organization’s applicant management system and the process was automated. Today, one in three recommended applicants is hired.
The example of Caritas-CBT clearly shows how digitalization and technology can increase recruiting success.
Read the entire success story of Caritas-CBT and Radancy here.
 PwC Österreich GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft. (2022). Fachkräftemangel im Gesundheitswesen: Wenn die Pflege selbst zum Pflegefall wird, Auswege aus der drohenden Versorgungskrise.
 Mdr.de. (2023, August 18). Kassenärzte Warnen VOR “praxenkollaps.” Kassenärzte warnen vor “Praxenkollaps” | MDR.DE. https://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/deutschland/wirtschaft/arzt-praxen-kollaps-kassenaerztliche-vereinigung-100.html