Comparing Methods of Healthcare Recruiting – Part 1

In Physical Therapy Articles, Recruiting by Steve Passmore, DPT1 Comment

Staffing is a huge problem in a healthcare practice.  You have an opening that is jeopardizing your business or you have practice needs that are nagging at your practice.  As an expert in healthcare recruiting, I have been asked many times “What is the best method to recruit therapists or nurses?” The simple answer is “there is no best method”.  Just as there is no “best method” to treat shoulder pain, we have to review the current practice, determine optimal resources, and develop a healthcare recruiting plan.  If that sounds similar your clinical approach to treatment… it is.  Cookie cutter solutions don’t work in patient treatment and they don’t work in healthcare recruiting.  We have multiple methods of active and passive recruiting; and each has its pros and cons.

Should I use email blasts, direct mail, internet job sites, or newspaper ads?

In 2010, the ICOM (the largest network of independent advertising and marketing communication agencies) conducted a study of response rates to advertising.  The relevant comparisons to healthcare recruiting sales are listed in the table below.

healthcare recruiting response comparison

So how can you use this data with healthcare recruiting?

First, it is obvious that telephone sales (cold calling) has the highest rate of response.  Next would be oversized mail and clearly the smallest would be email.   With direct mail, bigger is better.

Does this data surprise you with all the current push toward email blasts?  It really should not… how many unsolicited email blasts do you really trust or read.  Also, how many of those unsolicited emails are blocked by your server or sent to a junk file by your software?  People simply don’t trust unsolicited emails.  So why do we still see huge numbers of unsolicited email blasts?  The answer is in quantity.  If you have a huge potential audience of millions; then, even a low response rate can translate into large numbers.  In healthcare, we don’t have the advantage of a huge quantity of therapists or nurses in the target area.

From the table, you also see internal lists have a higher response rate over general lists.  In-House (internal) lists are those that you build from trade shows, off your social media site, etc. of people who are interested in your company.  We would expect responses to be higher with internal lists compared to a prospect (general commercial) list.

Active Recruiting Methods

Some common Active Recruiting Methods include: Email, Direct Mail (post cards, over-sized cards, & letters), Internet Job Boards, and Cold Calling.


  • Pros – Sophisticate links available within the message so people can link to your sites
  • Cons – Typical match rate for locating email address for a list of names is 10-15% (submit 200 names and you will only find 20-30 email addresses). In addition, spam filters or peoples’ distrust of unsolicited email will block most of these emails.  Finally, you have to be careful with the CAN-SPAM act and fines and web site blocking of contacting people if you don’t follow that act.
  • Best Use – Keep an internal list of people who have an interest in your practice. Use email to contact them with any opening.

Direct Mail (letters and cards)

  • Pros – Places your message in the hands of a target audience. Also, they may pass the card/letter to a friend or hold for a future date.  Finally, the card can perk interest, even if the candidate is not actively seeking a job.
  • Cons – Poorly designed cards will be tossed unopened. (Correct design and accurate delivery equals success of message.)
  • Best Use – Places a strong recruiting message to the regional area.

Internet Job Board

  • Pros – Nationwide audience. Some sites are inexpensive and may even offer referral to other sites for coverage.
  • Cons – Requires a person to be actively seeking a job. Also, there is a lot of competition among job boards.  (We recommend you use a site like or, which specifically targets therapists.  We DO NOT recommend using sites like,, etc. which is more likely to send a non-therapist to you.)
  • Best Use – Use the job board as a supplement to attract the tech savvy person seeking jobs. You get the punch of nationwide appeal.

Cold Calling

  • Pros – One on one contact and able to answer questions. You can provide a positive response if they show interest.  Phone cold calls is an old method, but it works.
  • Cons – It is becoming more difficult to find phone numbers (We used to find 80% of phone numbers but now we find around 65%).
  • Best Use – Places a strong recruiting message to the local area.

Let’s do some math.

If your practice is in a moderate size metro area, you might find 250 therapists in a driving distance of your clinic.  Those 250 are your prime candidates for hire, since they do not require relocation.

With email, you would expect to find 15% of the emails, which would be 38 therapists.  From the marketing study, we would expect less than .1% to open and respond to the email (.001 x 38 = 0).  We really don’t expect any responses.

With cards, we would expect to locate almost all of the 250 therapists (subtract a few who have moved with no forwarding or have their email sent to a corporate office where that card could be discarded and undelivered).  Assume 220 cards are delivered.  We expect 6 to respond to the message (220 x .025 = 6).

With calls, we start with 250 therapists, but only locate 65% of the phone numbers, which is 163 contacts.  With calls, we have the higher response rate (163 x .09 = 15).  We expect 15 to respond.

The above numbers assume a market where we expect people to only consider the offer.  It loses some effect with people who are not wanting a job change, but the math is clearly on the side of calls and direct mail for contacting a local market.  Combine that with the national market of internet job boards and you have optimized the math.

In upcoming articles, I will expand on effective recruiting and advertising techniques.

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Steve Passmore, DPT

Dr. Steve Passmore graduated as a Physical Therapist in 1977 and has enjoyed a unique career from clinician, to management, to operations, to consultant. In 2002 he established Healthy Recruiting Tools and later Focused Mailing Services. Healthy Recruiting Tools provides the “tools” for companies who need to recruit healthcare workers (primarily therapists and nurses). Focused Mailing Services, on the other hand, provides discount direct mail services for any company that needs to advertise by direct mail. We work with mega corporations, to charities, to the mom-and-pop operations who need to grow.

For additional information please feel free to contact at Steve at [email protected], visit our web site at or, or call at 888-993-9675. Also available is an in-service training course for conferences and our book Recruiting in Healthcare: Unlocking the Methods and the Magic 2nd Edition available thru Amazon hard copy or kindle.


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