Recruiters Target Specific Jobs

August 18, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Internet job sites, internal referrals and networking are the ways to find people to fill open positions, according to some of the area’s human resource directors and recruiters.

Beth DeWilde, president of Paragon Recruiting, specializes in matching those looking for work in technology with those seeking the best and the brightest employees for their technology-based positions.

DeWilde said she is seeing positions open up in software development and quality assurance, as well as a demand for employees with specialization in different technologies.

There is also a variety of systems analyst positions and jobs for project managers with a technological background, she said.

“A lot of people are looking for not only the specific technology, but they’re looking for star performers,” she said.

DeWilde said her clients are looking for people who are passionate about the work they do, and for creative problem-solvers and strong communicators.

“People want people who can solve problems, who can recognize an issue and not put a short-term fix, but can make it so those issues do not occur,” she said.

As for experience, DeWilde said employers are hiring across the board from junior- to mid- to senior-level positions, with mid-level positions being the most common.

The companies that are hiring the most are those with 100 employees or more, and those with one to 50 employees. Companies with 50 to 99 employees are not hiring as much, she said.

To find the right employee for a client, DeWilde said she takes the characteristics the employer is looking for and searches her database. If she does not find a suitable candidate, she said she starts networking with people she knows about whether they know someone who would fit the criteria. If she finds someone who may be interested, DeWilde contacts them and, if they are interested, sets up an interview. If they are not interested, she asks if they know anyone who might be.

“There are many people who are so generous with their thoughts of who they would like to help,” she said.

DeWilde said that to attract the right people, companies need to show prospective employees that they value technology.

“Technology people want to see the owners of the widget company value technology,” she said. “They want to see that management values IT and doesn’t just see it as a necessary evil.”

In health care, recruiters are looking to fill jobs almost across the board.

Linda Sloat, director of physicians’ services and corporate recruitment for Metro Health, said although her hospital does not have many openings for nurses at the moment, there are openings in primary care, pediatrics and surgery, as well as positions for X-ray technicians, medical technologists and nurse educators.

“Most any health system is going to have openings in different areas,” she said. “It usually doesn’t take that long to fill them.”

Sloat said Metro is currently hiring to fill positions at its new campus.

“We’re expanding and our patient population is increasing; therefore, you need more people in the different areas,” she said.

Recruiting has taken place through Internet advertising, job fairs, college career fairs, open houses and networking. Sloat said the employees at Metro often will recruit within professional organizations to which they belong.

“A lot of times you have a person that’s real happy in their position and they pass it on to their organization,” she said. “I think it’s fairly easy to recruit people into the Metro Health system.”

Sloat said there are many aspects that make the system attractive to potential employees, including competitive salary and benefits packages, as well as the occasional help with moving expenses, student loans or hiring bonuses.

“A lot of it is determined by the level of the position in the organization and also the shortages,” she said. “When you have your hard-to-fill positions, that’s when you may add some additional things on it to attract candidates.”

Tom Karel, vice president of human resources at Saint Mary’s Health Care, said the majority of openings there are for registered nurses. Because of the shortage of nurses, Karel said, Saint Mary’s has become creative in its recruitment. One tactic is “blitzes”: events that feature one-on-one interviews with managers and instant hiring.

Using Internet job boards and getting involved with organizations such as the Black Nurses Association and the Association of Hispanic Nurses, as well as churches and community organizations, also helps. Karel said the health system also has extensive internship and job-shadowing opportunities.

Nurses returning to the job market have the opportunity to take a refresher course that Saint Mary’s offers in conjunction with Michigan State University.

“That program allows nurses who have been out of the field for some time to go through a refresher program and come back into the work force,” he said.

Crystal January-Craft, systems director of employment and organizational development for Spectrum Health, said her organization is hiring across the board with a focus in clinical areas, nurses, respiratory technicians and in the emergency department.

“There’s a shortage in many of those areas,” she said.

January-Craft said Spectrum is mostly using Internet sites and referrals to hire.

“The candidates we get on referrals tend to be very strong,” she said.

Cheryl Johnson, vice president of human resources at Wolverine World Wide, said there are a variety of positions open at her company, some in leadership roles.

“The majority of positions are in marketing and sales and retail,” she said. “As our company is growing, we are becoming more and more a brand marketing organization.”

Johnson said Wolverine is looking for people who can get excited about footwear and apparel and bring the Wolverine story to clients.

The positions are posted on the Wolverine Web site, as well as in a variety of journals. Johnson said they have also tried recruitment tactics such as sponsoring tailgate parties at Michigan State University and working with different student groups.

“We’re trying to do innovative things on campuses,” she said. “It’s working pretty effectively for us.”

Johnson said the firm also tries to give potential employees a true glimpse of what working for Wolverine is like by using informational packets and the company’s Web site.

“We try to hire in a way that we can give people a very realistic perspective,” she said. “We believe the hiring process is a two-way street.”    

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