What does it take to keep the best healthcare candidates in your talent pool? Finding the right jobs, quickly, is the highest priority. Beyond that, today’s healthcare workers expect frequent communication and tailored technology to support placement, credentialing, and payment. We surveyed 150+ healthcare contingent workers in the US to determine what they want from staffing firms.

Read on to discover:

Why do healthcare workers choose to work with a staffing firm?
How do preferences differ among healthcare roles and generations?
Where does the talent experience let candidates down?

Candidate sentiment

Post-pandemic, contingent workers in healthcare are reevaluating how they want to work and what they expect from staffing firms, platforms, or apps. Many are considering full-time alternatives, but those who remain in the contingent workforce want to work with full-service firms that offer a seamless candidate experience.

86% of healthcare contingent workers are considering full-time work

When asked if they are considering full-time work in a health system or hospital, fully 86% of healthcare contingent workers said they are, and that is consistent across all types of workers (allied, locum tenens, per diem, and travel nurses). They seem to be looking for stability and predictability, especially as contingent wages are declining from the COVID-era highs.


What are your top reasons for making this change?

More than ⅔ of respondents are seeking the stability of full-time employment — not surprising in a period of economic uncertainty. Reaching out proactively with new opportunities can give employees the stability they seek while keeping them in contingent staffing.

64% would work with their current staffing firm again

Most healthcare workers are willing to stay with their current staffing firm, but what makes candidates choose a firm in the first place? The right jobs are the most important — but so are reviews.

Candidates pay attention to reviews

What is the primary reason you chose to work with your most recent staffing firm/recruitment agency?

The top reason healthcare candidates choose a staffing firm is because of the jobs they post. But it is interesting how much impact positive reviews and recruiter outreach can have, influencing more than 40% of candidates between them. Carefully managing online reviews could be an easy way for firms to win over more talent.

79% of candidates stopped working with a firm because they weren’t placed quickly enough

With candidates craving stability and security, it is no wonder they tend to take the jobs that are available quickly, whether they come through a staffing firm or some other avenue. 71% of healthcare candidates hope to be placed in a job in four weeks or less.

Candidates want a fast, frictionless process

If you gave up working with a recruiter or staffing agency at any point, what were the reasons?

Many candidates dropped out of the process because it didn’t deliver results fast enough, either because they found a job elsewhere faster or they simply got frustrated with the process. And nearly a quarter found the process too complicated. Automation can help with both these issues, improving the candidate experience.

What do healthcare candidates expect from staffing firms?

79% of healthcare workers prefer staffing firms to on-demand platforms

In spite of the talk about self-service, on-demand staffing platforms, respondents overwhelmingly indicated they prefer to work with a staffing firm to handle their job search and placement. Why is that?


What do you expect a staffing firm to handle for you?

Healthcare candidates seem drawn to the level of support they can only get from a full-service staffing firm. First and foremost, they still trust staffing firms to recommend the right jobs. And candidates don’t want to filter through job assignments or handle all the communication with employers — they are happy to outsource this work to recruiters.

46% of candidates said credentialing was complicated or improperly handled

Credentialing remains a pain point for many healthcare contingent workers. They not only want recruiters to pre-filter jobs that are appropriate to their licensure, but also to make the credentialing process seamless and transferable from one job to the next.


How could the recruiter most improve the credentialing process?

32% of candidates want a self-service app for credentialing — driven largely by per diem employees with more than half listing this as their top choice. And over ⅕ want a digital credential wallet that they can use again and again.

67% of healthcare workers say their recruiter reached out with new opportunities before the last assignment ended

Given the desire for stability and predictability, staffing firms that want to keep scarce healthcare talent should be sure to track this metric and provide automation that enables this proactive outreach by recruiters.


How often would you like your staffing firm to reach out while you are on an assignment?

Whether it is to check in or to line up a next assignment, contingent healthcare workers want to hear from the recruiter at least once a week. This is similar to what they expect during the job search process and can have a significant impact on candidate loyalty. Right now, 9% said their recruiter never reached out while they were on assignment.

Most candidates prefer email, but pay attention to differing communication preferences

35% of respondents prefer email when it comes to communication from the recruiter, but this can vary depending on the candidates age and role.


What is your top preference for how recruiters reach out to you with opportunities?

When asked how they prefer to be contacted and how their recruiter actually reaches out, there is pretty good alignment, but some areas for improvement. Recruiters seem to rely on phone communication 50% more than candidates would like. And there is the opportunity to rely more on text and app notifications. The key is to let candidates tailor their communication preferences.


Communication preferences differ by healthcare role

While email may be the best way to reach travel nurses, 36% of locum tenens want to deal with recruiters through an app, and more than ¼ of allied professionals still want phone calls. Understanding different communication preferences can help create a truly candidate-centered talent platform.

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Communication preferences differ by age group

Although email is the top communication choice across age groups, there are some subtle differences when it comes to other methods. Gen Z workers are a lot more comfortable with WhatsApp, a trend that will likely increase over time. And text may be a great way to communicate with Millennial talent.

Recruitment cycle: What is working and what isn’t?

Most healthcare candidates are satisfied with the recruitment cycle, but there is definitely still room for improvement, especially around job search and credentialing. And candidates of different ages in different roles have varying expectations of the process.

64% of healthcare candidates would work with their current staffing firm again

And 76% are satisfied with the overall experience with their recruiter. Although it’s good news that the majority are satisfied, that still leaves ⅓ of candidates who wouldn’t keep working with their recruiters, a big risk for staffing firms, especially in an industry where talent is limited and many placements rely on word of mouth among candidates.

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Generally positive candidate experience

For most recruitment experiences, about ¾ of candidates had a positive experience. However, only 46% felt the credentialing process was simple. Firms who want to retain the best healthcare talent will need to improve their credentialing process.

⅓ of candidates aren’t satisfied with the recruitment process potentially impacting loyalty

When asked their satisfaction with the recruitment process, only about ⅔ of candidates are satisfied with most stages. And the research shows that all the stages of the talent lifecycle matter when it comes to candidate loyalty.

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Rate your satisfaction with each stage of the recruitment process

66% would be a failing grade on most exams, and it is no better in this case. With healthcare talent pools as tight as they are and so many candidates considering permanent work, staffing firms need to create a truly frictionless talent experience to keep candidates satisfied.

More than half of candidates find job search to be a challenge

Job search is a key driver of candidate loyalty and, given how early it is in the process, really sets the tone of the candidate experience.

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Which part of the recruitment process is a challenge?

52% of candidates find the job search stage of the lifecycle to be a challenge. And more than ⅓ find job fit to be challenging. Automation and AI can help address both these challenges, making the process faster and more accurate to improve the candidate experience.


Challenges differ by role

The biggest challenge for locum tenens and travel nurses is actually job fit, highlighting the need for firms to deploy the right technology to filter jobs by licensure, credentials, and specialty. Whereas per diem and allied professionals are most concerned about support for their job search.


Contingent workers in healthcare want to work with staffing firms, but they expect them to provide a level of support, communication, and technology that they can’t get with self-service platforms. With so many considering full-time employment, they need a candidate-centered experience that removes friction and gives them stability and predictability similar to that of full-time employment. To deliver on these expectations, staffing firms need to offer automated, tailored service that addresses the unique requirements of the healthcare industry.