Crisis Recruiting: How To Face the Challenges Ahead

We are navigating through uncertain times in recruitment.

Nurses work in some of the most challenging situations and environments — something people are recognizing now more than ever. The word “nurse” has become synonymous with hero as the public sees them on the front lines putting their own lives at risk to save others.

Nurse recruiters also play an important role in the healthcare community as they shape the staffing landscape of healthcare organizations. Recruiting amid a nursing shortage and during crisis times has shifted the paradigm.

Navigating the many changes and challenges that come with healthcare recruiting is familiar territory for Lisa Marie May, senior director of talent acquisition for Avamere Health Service and Theresa Mazzaro, RN, CHCR, senior talent acquisition specialist for Suburban Hospital, a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Both May and Mazzaro, president-elect of the National Association Health Care Recruiters, took the time recently to discuss their experiences and innovative ways to recruit during difficult times.

Lisa Marie May of Avamere Health Service, Wilsonville, Ore.

Q: Can you share some self-care tips for recruiters, such as something you do each day that helps you with personal productivity?

A: We have a close team. We stay grounded by reminding each other how we may not have a direct patient impact, but we assist with finding the right candidates for the immediate job needs of the organization.

But we also need to have some downtime and share creative more personal things with each other on our twice-a-week business calls. One week we had a “guess our hobbies” [game] and ongoing brainstorming around ways we can connect with the community to attract candidates.

Q: What’s one suggestion that helps you communicate better with your team while crisis recruiting?

AThis is a team effort — not just me. We lean on each other and they are natural leaders. I just provide the space and do not stifle them with limits.

Although it’s been a struggle to garner candidates, the team has to stay light hearted and continue to stay connected in the community and with the hiring managers to understand their needs. We have to be nimble.

Theresa Mazzaro, RN, CHCR, of Suburban Hospital, Bethesda, Md.

Q: As recruiters work through extremely challenging times while trying to fill nursing positions, what is the most important thing they can do a during crisis?

A: As healthcare recruiters, we need to remember, now more than ever, the impact our hiring has on people’s lives. We need to be calm and kind, and remember that we still need to hire the very best for our organizations.

COVID-19 Jobs

Q: How does a crisis affect nurse recruiting efforts?

A: It can be a great recruiting opportunity or a recruiting challenge. We are finding that many nurses wouldn’t think of leaving their hospital/organization right now, out of a sense of loyalty and purpose.

At the same time, it can be the perfect time to recruit if you know that a competitive organization may not be handling the crisis very well (i.e. lack of PPE is often talked about in the news or lack of transparency with leadership). If you can “show” that your organization cares and is there with you and by you through a crisis, it’s a golden opportunity.

Johns Hopkins recently published a video about the extraordinary people at Johns Hopkins. I love this video! It features my director of critical care, shown at the beginning and end of the video, and our amazing nurses. I’ve embedded the video in our job postings. What better way to show the spirit of your organization?

Q: What else can recruiters do to find and hire nurses quickly?

A: Virtual hiring events have become the new norm. Sourcing for nurses has never been more important. The messaging is key right now. Use websites like Indeed,, LinkedIn, or tools like SeekOut to help find those highly skilled nurses who want to work nights.