Candidate Experience

How a Great Candidate Experience Can Help You Win the War on Talent: Nick Haubach of University of Illinois Health

Jul 20, 2021 - Joe Matar

Episode Highlights

  • It’s a competitive job market out there, and not just in the healthcare industry! A positive candidate experience, from application to employee onboarding, is the best way to ensure you land top talent and fill positions.
    • “If we don't have an amazing candidate experience right from the get-go, we’re at risk of losing that great candidate to one of our competitors across the street,” says Nick Haubach, experienced talent recruiter and Chief Human Resources Officer at University of Illinois Health.
    • Adding personalized touches to the candidate experience is the best way to stand out from your competition. Understand the values of your organization that make you different, and make sure potential applicants know you care.

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    Why a Great Candidate Experience Is the Best Competitive Advantage in the War for Talent

    How do you fill open positions with the right talent when you’re in a steeply competitive market?

    Nick Haubach, Chief Human Resources Officer at University of Illinois Health in Chicago, works to address this question every day.

    The competition for healthcare talent is intense across the country, and since the Chicago area is home to so many hospitals all competing for the same candidate pool, Nick and the talent recruitment team at UIC is in for even more of a challenge.

    “When you add all of this together, along with the fact that we have an aging workforce in healthcare, an increase in retirements and a shortage of new healthcare providers that are being trained, you can only imagine how fierce the recruitment process is for us,” Nick says in his interview for Talent on the Rise, Brazen’s podcast about talent acquisition trends.

    “Our recruitment team needs to make sure they remain nimble and are open to changing our approach. And to ensure we’re making these changes to our strategy, we continue to get our name and our employment brand out into the market as frequently as possible.”

    To Nick, a positive candidate experience is the driving force behind attracting and landing top candidates in the war for talent.

    Here are some of his creative tips for recruiting top-notch candidates looking to make a change, improving candidate experience, and making sure that great experience stays true even after the hiring process is over. 

    Talent Acquisition Amidst the Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Nick says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought some interesting changes — both negative and positive — to the talent acquisition process. Most notably, organizations across all industries have had to get used to conducting business virtually, which has impacted the hiring process quite a bit.

    “As an organization, we’re now exploring what options need to be done in person and which can be done virtually or remotely,” he says.

    Nick says now that employees have gotten used to being able to work remotely, it’s a competitive disadvantage to require everyone to come into the office all the time.

    “A lot of organizations across the United States are changing to a virtual model. If we’re not able to pivot and accommodate those changes, we’re going to be left by the wayside and lose out on top talent.”

    Nick sees hiring events like job fairs as crucial to streamlining the application process. So when the pandemic hit, his team realized they had an opportunity to do virtual hiring events that were accessible to everyone, opening up the candidate pool even more.

    “Holding events virtually has allowed candidates, our talent acquisition team and our hiring managers to be able to have meaningful conversations from the comfort of their couches or offices on their cell phones,” Nick says.

    Ensuring a Standout Candidate Experience

    In order to stand out in such a competitive market, Nick and the talent acquisition team at UI Health have to make sure to get their employer brand out into the market frequently. They have to prove that UI Health offers something significant — not just that they offer employee office perks (though those are also nice!).

    Nick says ensuring a positive candidate experience is a way his team can stand out, letting potential talent know they’re important and valued.

    “We remind ourselves that every interaction we're having with candidates are major life events for them.”

    Instead of using an applicant tracking software, he and his team go through every job application by hand. If an applicant isn’t qualified, they don’t send out standard electronic rejection messages. Instead, they encourage the candidate to continue to stay in touch, which will keep potential talent in good graces and set you apart from your competitors.

    The UI Health team also has a mission statement that makes them stand out from their direct competitors, so they always make sure to emphasize it.

    “We take great pride in providing excellent healthcare to underserved communities across Chicago, and we strive to eliminate health disparities. That mission, and the fact that we actually practice what we’re preaching, is what I think attracts most candidates to us,” Nick says.

    Employee Experience Matters, Too

    A positive candidate experience shouldn’t stop after the hiring process ends and that candidate becomes an employee.

    Nick is passionate about work-life balance and managing burnout, something that has become all the more important during a pandemic that has blurred the line between professional and personal life.

    “I make sure that if our staff is getting burnout or they feel the workload is too much, there's an open line of transparent communication,” he says. “I have an open door policy where they can talk about those concerns.”

    The UI Health HR team offers an annual survey to get the pulse of how employees are feeling, and the results of those surveys are all taken into consideration to actively make plans to improve.

    “I think it's really important when we're recruiting to let our employees know that their voices really do matter,” Nick says. “As an applicant or a candidate, it’s good to know that you can make a change and your team will work together to make those positive changes.”

    This article is based on an episode of Talent on the Rise, Brazen’s podcast about transformative leaders and how they got a seat at the table. Subscribe in your preferred podcast app.

    Check out the full episode on your favorite podcast app:

    Spotify | iTunes | Soundcloud

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