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5 Prescriptions for Recruiting Success in Health Tech

What makes disruption in the healthcare industry difficult? It really depends on who you ask. We’ve heard explanations like: “There is a history of stringent bureaucracy”, “With new health technology comes privacy and security concerns,” and “Physicians are often left out of product development, making them reticent to use new tools.” It’s no surprise that these obstacles double as recruiting challenges.

Still, recruiters in the health tech industry feel lucky. The talent they seek is driven by the same mission they are: to completely revolutionize the healthcare experience of patients in need. Their task? To find the right candidates and assure them that – with their company’s support and resources – they can individually impact the lives of patients. For insight into how they paint that picture, we interviewed four recruiters – Quartet Tech Recruiting Lead Nyala Chahine, HealthEngine Lead Talent Scout Stan Rolfe and Project Specialist Annie Winfield, and Bright Health Head of All Things People Maura McGinn. Below, they shared 5 ways they discover and ultimately win over health tech talent. 

  1. First off, don’t limit your search to candidates with experience in health care

In most of Maura’s searches, she doesn’t expect candidates to have extensive knowledge of the industry. For starters, traditional healthcare talent often has specialized rather than general expertise, and second, she believes other qualities are more key to success in health tech. “Most of all, we look for people who are open to new ideas and suggestions, and who have innovated by simplifying complex problems for consumers,” she explains. Maura encourages health tech teams to seek forward-thinking employees from various backgrounds who are willing to take intellectual risks.

For HealthEngine, a healthcare background is a plus, but not vital. “We like to emphasise the tech side of our company and our commitment to transforming the industry through technology, rather than just focussing on finding candidates with a health background,” Annie says. For relatively senior hires, healthcare experience is sometimes important, but with most candidates, HealthEngine prioritises cultural alignment and a drive to build a digital healthcare marketplace above all else. “We move fast here. We get things done,” says Annie. “Our employees are encouraged to experiment – if they fail, they can learn from their mistakes and move on.” HealthEngine actively looks for candidates who are curious questioners.

  1. Leverage your employee networks, but don’t cultivate homogeneity

What is one of Maura’s fundamental tips for her fellow health tech recruiters? “Hire a great foundational team, and leverage their second tier networks to gather referrals,” she stresses. In Bright Health’s initial stages, referrals were a hugely rewarding source of hire. Soon, however, Maura noticed that many of her candidates were coming from similar networks. “To cultivate new ideas and prevent the status quo, I had to start to proactively seeking out a more diverse pool of health tech talent,” she admitted. “And once I started using Lever, I could. I started to actually reach out to candidates, and get back them on time.” Once she organized her pipeline, Maura could be more purposeful about proactively diversifying it.

For Nyala, recruiting a diverse cadre of candidates in the health tech realm is challenging, but always top of mind. “To build a diverse team, you need buy-in from every employee,” says Nyala. “Together, attend and sponsor events that are focused on minorities and women. Commit to attracting candidates from different backgrounds.” At Quartet, the recruiting team also partners with interviewers to learn tactics for fighting unconscious bias in the interview process.

  1. Emphasize the impact of the work you’re already doing

In every single interview process, Maura shares how Bright Health, a new health insurance offering, is creating a more seamless and personalized healthcare experience for its existing members. “People interested in the healthcare industry are mission-driven. They want to know how they can personally impact people’s lives,” explains Maura. “So show them what they’ll be able to work on.” Therefore, she is always sure to convey the immediate difference that employees make in patients’ lives once they join the team.

If you ask Nyala, many candidates are disillusioned with industries like social media and fin-tech. They want work on something more meaningful, and you should show them that your team offers that. On a quest to integrate mental health into primary care, her team at Quartet aims to give patients help when they need it most. “It’s important for us to share our mission with candidates,” she explains. “We make sure we’re there for our clients in moments when they feel they don’t have anywhere to turn.” When Nyala describes how Quartet connects patients with mental health conditions to therapy programs, for example, she gives candidates concrete insight into the support they provide.

And at HealthEngine, Annie and Stan share their mission with candidates as soon as they walk through the door. HealthEngine is located in Perth, Australia, known as the most remote city in the world. “Think of trying to recruit Silicon Valley talent in Hawaii,” laughs Stan. So how exactly do they pique candidates’ interest? They explain – in detail – how their marketplace for healthcare services is helping millions of patients receive the care they need to live healthier lives. 

  1. Be relentless about updating candidates

Annie and Stan have found that the intricacies of the healthcare industry are sometimes a hindrance when it comes to hiring talent. The technical stack at HealthEngine is complex, for example, and some candidates don’t want to learn it. So how else do they engage candidates? Through transparent, frequent communication. To get back to candidates more quickly, Stan began by equipping his team with Lever, a recruiting tool they actually enjoy using.Before Lever, hiring managers weren’t giving Stan the feedback he needed to update candidates. Now, he sees more than 80% engagement from them. “Lever is the best thing that’s ever happened,” says Annie. “Today, it takes us an average 28-35 days to hire candidates. Without Lever, we wouldn’t be able to get back to candidates nearly as quickly.”

Nyala agrees that the most important element of candidate experience is constant, timely communication. “To build a close relationship with candidates, you have to be respectful,” she explains. “If they’re investing their time with you and your company, you owe it to them to be transparent about where they are in the process.”

  1. Show candidates how health tech diverges from stagnant bureaucracy

In Maura’s experience, healthcare professionals are often used to a more hierarchical environment. “Prior to healthcare reform, there was a very clear way of how things were done in healthcare. It made people’s jobs more predictable,” she continues. “That’s a part of why the industry has been ripe for disruption.” In order to excite candidates who want to break out of that rigid environment, Maura tells them how much they can learn at Bright Health. “I’ve learned more in a year here than I ever could have imagined,” she gushes. “I make sure candidates know that.”

At HealthEngine, Annie and Stan also remind candidates that health tech is a chance to break free from bureaucracy. Straying away from ‘job descriptions’ and creating ‘gig guides’ instead, they prove that their team is a change of pace from the very beginning. Instead of a list of necessary skills, these guides provide an outline of what ‘you’, the candidate, will accomplish in the role. “We also use HealthEngine lingo in the ‘gig guides’ – a tone that is quite informal and specific to us,” says Stan. “It’s a great way to show who we are and how we’re different.”

If we had to choose one takeaway from our conversations above, it’s that both candidates and recruiters in the health tech industry want to see the concrete ways their work is improving the lives of others. We were lucky to learn about the impact that Maura, Stan, Annie, and Nyala have had on hundreds of candidates’ lives.

Months ago, we wrote a post on yet another groundbreaking health tech company in San Francisco called Grand Rounds. They shared how in order to make every candidate feel valued and special, they employ 6 creative recruiting tactics. These are their strategies – ideas that inspired us to take a closer look at recruiting in the health tech realm. Enjoy!