How Ministry Health Care Improved Its Recruiting Digital Footprint

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Dec 6, 2011

Ministry Health Care is a health care system of clinics and hospitals, primary and specialty care physicians, home care and related services, in Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota. Michael P. Schmidt, Director of Recruitment for Ministry, joined the company in February 2009.  When he started, he knew he had a project on his hands to bring Ministry up to speed with its social recruiting efforts.

I spoke with Schmidt recently and he shared with me some of what Ministry has done over the last two years to update its digital footprint by involving a couple of its vendors in the process.

When Schmidt joined Ministry, it had virtually no social media presence. In fact, Schmidt admitted that even he personally didn’t have a Facebook account. He’s what he calls a “skeptical innovator” – it took phone calls and observations from vendors looking to do business with Ministry for him to realize that things needed to change.

Things had to start with an upgrade of the backend system. Ministry used Taleo for its applicant tracking, and by upgrading the system they prepared themselves for integrating a social media presence online and being able to measure this through the technology the company used. Once this was completed, Schmidt knew the next step was getting his team up to speed.

On his team of fourteen, eleven recruit for specialty skills and three have dual roles – these individuals recruit for hospital support functions (operations, accounting, etc.) an also provide scheduling support for the other recruiters. He also has one Taleo certified Systems Administrator who runs all the metrics from the system for the team (a function Schmidt says is probably the most valuable position on his team… take note big data proponents!) Most of the team, he says, had little, if any, digital footprints of their own.

The first step in changing this, starting in 2010, was for Schmidt to set some goals for his team. Goal #1: a Ministry social media presence. To do this, he knew some things had to be done:

  • Train the team on appropriate social media involvement
  • Designate a “Social Media Person” on the team to champion the efforts
  • Create a Ministry Careers Facebook Fan Page
  • Develop a metrics plan


Getting the recruiters involved in LinkedIn was the first task. Ministry created its own presence on LinkedIn and then encouraged recruiters to take advantage of what it has to offer. Some of the initial usage goals they were responsible for meeting included inviting at least six people per week to join their network, spending at least 25 minutes per week researching groups, starting at least one discussion per week per group joined, and sharing relevant jobs to groups. Result? Rapid success – Ministry recruiters began connecting with more prospects than ever before. “It’s become a way of life,” says Schmidt. As a side benefit, Ministry’s employee referrals went up. Prior to this time, the company didn’t have a big or good referral program, but once they started hiring people through alternative avenues like LinkedIn, that changed. In fact, LinkedIn is now in Ministry’s top 5 sources of hire. Previously it had been in the top 10.


Next was developing a presence on Facebook. Goals for the team on an individual basis included logging in to Facebook daily and posting a minimum of 1 status update, “friend”ing at least six people per week, and joining 1 Facebook group per week that is related to their recruiting discipline.  With the creation of the Ministry Careers Fan Page, Ministry posts jobs to its wall directly from Monster through a feed and has a jobs tab directly on the page which uses Taleo’s Facebook Application Platform. Initial recruiter engagement tasks included updating the page at least once per week and spending at least 25 minutes per week researching Facebook content and groups (sourcing/intel activities). Result? Ministry’s Facebook page has grown and has good interaction from both its recruiters and the fans of the page. The “awareness factor” was the big win here.

Twitter and Video

With efforts that work always come things that weren’t so great. Ministry discovered that its target geographic and demographic audiences weren’t taking much advantage of Twitter, so it decided to discontinue its recruiting use of Twitter after about six months. (Note: Ministry Health Care still has a corporate Twitter account, @Ministry_Health, that is active)

Also, Ministry had explored the use of video to share its job opportunities with a company called JSTN, but for Ministry’s needs it was not an appropriate fit. However, out of this developed a creative use of video that Ministry still uses. Schmidt bought flipcams for the whole recruitment team and tasked them with recording 30-60 second videos of employees and managers that could be uploaded to and stored on YouTube. Word got out and many employees and managers wanted to take part in this. Recording one video per month was the goal, but most were turning in over ten. Schmidt then went to Taleo and asked if these videos could in turn be embedded within the applicant tracking system and attached directly to jobs. Taleo said yes, and the result is candidates staying on job descriptions five minutes longer on the ones with videos and an overall 10% in applications to jobs with videos attached to them.

Results and What’s Next

Overall, the revamp of Ministry’s digital footprint has resulted in some tangible results. There was a significant drop in the use of job board postings. While Schmidt said he did not take away the ability for his team to post on job boards they used, his team discovered on their own that they didn’t need to post jobs as much because they could post things for free on Facebook. Ad spend went down by 18% and this saved money was in turn converted to other services. Additionally, 47 hires were directly related to social media.

The next thing on the horizon for Ministry is improving its Careers page and engaging in mobile recruiting — specifically, SMS. While many of you may think that this is a little “johnny-come-lately,” consider that the healthcare industry, along with education, is one of the slower adopters of new media when it comes to employment branding, and this is more than what most hospitals and healthcare systems currently have in place. Additionally, a dedicated sourcing function may also be on the horizon. Currently, Schmidt says that his recruiters do their own sourcing, though he sees the value of having a dedicated sourcing function. To arm them with appropriate skills, he just had all the recruiters go through AIRS training to earn the CIR designation.

By looking at what Ministry’s unique recruiting needs were, taking advantage of currently used and readily available tools, and partnering with its vendors, Schmidt and his recruiting team have helped to increase Ministry’s digital footprint and thus its recruiters’ sourcing activities. His recruiting team is regularly engaged with potential candidates in the most appropriate social networking locations. And candidates in turn have a better, more rich experience in learning about what Ministry has to offer.

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