Part I – What makes hiring so hard, and what makes it worth the challenge?


As part of our hiring experts program, we’re catching up with Golden Living’s talent leader, Shawnee Irmen, who was recently part of an HCI webinar panel.



Why is hiring so hard to get right?

Within healthcare, some hiring managers think a nurse is a nurse is a nurse but in reality, as hiring professionals, we know that is not the case.  For example, a nurse who wants to work in our skilled nursing facility environment has to have the heart, passion and empathy to care for residents, patients and to interact with the families of our residents and patients.  We do not have specialized sections that you may see in a hospital so our nurses all work at the top of the license, consistently being trained on new technology and clinical industry updates to ensure that they are multifaceted nursing experts who deliver a wide range of care to those we serve.

Other obstacles include:

“Too many cooks in the kitchen” meaning, if there are too many people that are part of the interview process and it drags out longer than needed. I have witnessed recruiters and candidates alike get incredibly frustrated at the thought of a 4 week process to interview for a role.

Indecisive hiring managers – managers who are either unsure of themselves making the decisions on a candidate or they are sometimes unsure of their needs for the role and what they are truly looking for in the right person.

Lastly, the fact of the matter is you do not always know what you are really going to get.  Some candidates can be professional interviewers. They seem to fit the part and do well when meeting our team – and this is why we believe references are so important to our hiring process.

What are your biggest sourcing and hiring challenges?

We network but with the high level of requisitions my team is managing at any one time, often they voice the desire to have more time to “hunt” and source.

Healthcare professionals in the Senior Living, Hospice and Therapy environments all know each other.  It is a small world so often times that can lend to great referrals. But it can also lead to major hurdles if a current leader or hiring manager previously worked with someone, for example when they were still green, and are now unwilling to consider them even though they may have since gained 5-10 years more experience.

We are also challenged with competitive pay compared to travelers or hospital settings partly due to our reimbursement rates being less than those of other healthcare sectors.

Do you think ‘soft skills’ are under-rated when managers hire?

I believe our hiring managers focus heavily on soft skills, sometimes more so than competencies.  We often have to assist them with balancing what is most important.  I am thankful that they do acknowledge and interview looking for people who have the soft skills needed to be successful in our organization.

Do you think they are important and if yes, why?

I do believe that soft skills are of major importance.  Depending on the role, I would honestly consider hiring someone who has the soft skills needed for our company culture and who is open to training and learning for a role (example, business office, staffing, sales, etc).  Soft skills in a team member can build rapport with our referral sources, family members and patients so much so that they can help make or break the success of the role, department or facility.

How do you manage the candidates’ and your employees’ expectations about your organization and their careers?

Part of our intake with a candidate is to find out what motivates them and how we can entice them and keep them interested in our organization through the benefits, opportunities, and perks that we offer.  We keep in touch with our candidates throughout their interview process checking in to ensure their expectations of the role are still understood and identifying if their expectations of the company may have changed at all.

Managing our employees’ expectations varies. We do engagement surveys but more importantly, our leaders speak directly with employees to find out what motivates them and if they feel they have the tools and resources needed to do their job. If we have employees who want career progression, we offer various career ladder programs they can enroll in, additional trainings, etc.  We want to make our employees feel respected and appreciated because without them, we could not serve our customers.  And our customer community is comprised of a very vulnerable population– we are thankful they entrust us as an organization to serve their needs.  In turn, we look at various ways to pay back to our employees so that they know they are appreciated and never considered a number, job code or a role only but rather they are invested in the organization, their facility and in turn delivering the best quality care possible.

Hear how Shawnee uses Pre-Hire 360  to turn reference checking into a strategic asset for her organization in this webinar recording.

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