Reputation Management: Not Just for Marketers
Success in Recruiting Depends on an Organization’s Reputation
By Lisa Rimmert, Director of Marketing, PracticeMatch, Saint Louis, MO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reputation management. I know what you’re thinking: That sounds like a job for the marketing department, not the physician recruiters. On the contrary, an organization’s reputation is perhaps the most valuable tool in a recruiter’s tool belt—that is, of course, if the reputation is favorable. Reputation management, while indeed a marketing concept, should be made a priority by in-house physician recruiters.
Put simply, a company’s reputation reflects how its audiences view the company. When a company’s reputation is positive, potential customers are more likely to buy from that company over others with similar products and pricing. Customers become loyal to companies they perceive positively.
Reputation is important to physician recruitment for the same reasons it is important to retail companies. In-house physician recruitment professionals want physician candidates to become and remain loyal to the health care organization, in the same way that retailers want that outcome from their customers. If a hospital or healthcare organization is perceived positively, physicians will be more likely to respond to communications from the recruiter or to contact them when they—or their friends or colleagues—are looking for work.
In order for an in-house physician recruitment professional to achieve the ideal corporate reputation, they should focus on three aspects of reputation management: making a positive first impression, making friends, and minding the message.
Making a positive first impression
In the age of instant access, your materials, not you, are often what make a first impression on physician candidates. Before they even know you exist, you can bet that physicians have seen your e-mails, Web site, job postings, and advertisements. The materials you send to physicians or post on the Internet speak volumes about the quality of your organization. Each time a physician picks up a postcard, reads an e-mail subject line, or views a print advertisement, they make snap judgments about your organization. It’s important that those snap judgments are favorable.
Each time you create a postcard to mail or a flyer to hand out at career fairs, do so with your key messaging in mind and with the assumption that this piece will be someone’s first impression of your organization. Be sure to use appropriate, high-resolution logos and images. Spell-check everything you write, whether it’s a company description for a career fair, a job posting, ad copy, or an e-mail response to a physician about an opening. Find out if there are specific colors you should use in advertisements, e-mails, and direct mail pieces. Make those first impressions count.
Networking and relationship building activities are oftentimes underappreciated or regarded as “fluff.” While its return on investment is difficult to measure quantitatively, networking has clear qualitative payoffs. It does involve time and effort, but it usually doesn’t require much from the organization’s budget. Building relationships is an effective way to increase awareness of an organization and spur loyalty from the target audience.
It goes without saying that physician recruitment professionals should focus on building relationships with job-seeking physicians. Recruitment professionals should begin communicating with these physicians when they’re just starting out—in training or even medical school. There are many ways to develop relationships with physicians, including providing value to them like career planning assistance or industry insights.
However, in order to be most successful, physician recruitment professionals should first focus on an equally important but often overlooked group: their colleagues in marketing and communications. The marketing professionals down the hall or in the next building have knowledge of reputation and brand management that is crucial to the success of the recruiting department. In-house physician recruitment professionals should find time to meet with the marketing director and discuss with them the goals of the recruiting department and what support is needed to reach them. Recruitment professionals should inquire about the organization’s overall messaging, guidelines for logo use, available stock photos, and more. Your marketing colleagues will be grateful for your awareness of the importance of consistent messaging and reputation management.
Minding the message
In-house physician recruitment professionals should work with their marketing colleagues to develop key recruitment messages that integrate and work cohesively with the organization’s overall messaging and brand identity. When explaining to physician candidates the benefits of working for a new organization, recruitment professionals often have one or more selling points to grab the attention of those physicians. These selling points are usually interesting to physicians and act to differentiate the organization from others. A few examples of strong selling points are: a great location, flexible work schedules, and high rankings in quality care or patient satisfaction. Together, the recruitment professional and marketer should develop key messages that can be used consistently for recruitment and discuss optimal methods for incorporating these in sourcing materials.
Your organization’s reputation has the capacity to positively or negatively affect the success of your recruiting. With the increasing speed of information exchange via social networking and other Internet communications, corporate reputation is more fragile than ever and can be tarnished in a matter of seconds. If a physician sees a low quality logo, a misspelled word, or a piece of information that conflicts with your organization’s overall messaging, they might assume you or your organization to be unprofessional. In every outgoing message you send to potential candidates, it is important that you remain mindful of the three aspects of reputation management: minding the message, making friends, and making a positive first impression.