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Unlocking Success: Empowering Hiring Leaders to Optimize Talent Attraction

Recruiters use candidate-centric approach to meet job seekers’ needs


It’s a new world in talent recruiting. Hiring leaders across industries find themselves navigating a challenging terrain. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find talent with a smaller workforce, as candidates are being more selective – and are more sought after – than ever before.


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A joint survey by Mercer, The Network and the Boston Consulting Group found that 72% of all workers are approached multiple times per year with job offers; 40% say they would refuse a job if they had a negative experience during the recruitment process.

Medical institutions are not immune to these challenges. According to a 2022 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, 12.3% of healthcare establishments nationwide had at least one vacancy that was open for more than 30 days. In 2022, 750 unique Cleveland Clinic candidates reported receiving a competitor’s offer first, and 23% of unique job seekers withdrew their application or stopped responding.

“We have transitioned from an employer-centric market to a candidate-centric market,” says Kiersten Kanaley, Executive Director, Talent Acquisition Operations. “To remain competitive, Cleveland Clinic has taken a candidate-centric approach.”

The power of moments

As an element of the candidate-centric approach, Kanaley recommends that recruiters and hiring teams use the “Power of Moments” model. “As a recruiter or hiring leader, you have the unique ability to be a hero in someone’s career journey and leave an incredible mark in their lives,” she explains.

Dan and Chip Heath’s “Power of Moments” model, or EPIC, consists of four steps:

1. Use storytelling to elevate the ordinary.

2. Create a sense of pride in joining an organization.

3. Build new insights by highlighting how the candidate will have an impact in their role.

4. Create meaningful connections by listening to understand what matters most.

Finding the candidate’s “why”

“It’s important for candidates to visualize what it would be like to work at a particular institution,” Kanaley says. She suggests that recruiters and hiring leaders share their own personal experiences, and those of fellow caregivers, to illustrate how a candidate can find their own “why.”

“Ask job seekers questions that can help you understand what matters most to them,” she says. For instance:

If you could name one thing that matters to you most about the place where you work, what would it be and why?

What has been one of your biggest pain points about places you’ve worked before? One of your greatest joys?

Kanaley also suggests connecting with candidates on a personal level. “Ask them to share an experience in which they received gratitude or acknowledgement for making a difference,” she says.


This also provides an opening to talk about the advantages of working for your organization, she adds.

Staying connected

Another innovative way of connecting with a candidate is the “Reverse Thank-You Letter” – a method developed by the Cleveland Clinic Nurse Recruiting Team.

Using this approach, the hiring manager communicates directly with the candidate by thanking them for taking part in the interview and sharing what matters most to them. The letter also lets the candidate know what to expect in their first 30 days on the job and emphasizes the benefits that come with joining the organization.

“This letter sets the candidate up for success, both with their team and with the organization,” Kanaley says. “We’ve found this to be an effective tool. It’s definitely produced a higher acceptance rate from candidates when in a competitive offer situation.”

Why is it important to express thanks in this manner? "Taking the time to share gratitude is important during every part of the candidate life cycle,” Kanaley says. "By doing this, we aim to create an environment where candidates feel valued and maintain a genuine sense of belonging within our organization.”

ABC (always be closing)

The most critical parts of any recruiting effort are the pre-close and close. Kanaley emphasizes that her recruiters are closing at every step of the process. "We are providing transparency and a blueprint from the time the candidate lands on the job posting," she says. "We have moved beyond checking boxes to creating EPIC moments, such as storytelling and creating connections, which are personalized for each job seeker.”

When implementing this approach, Kanaley cites several different closes that recruiters can use for a successful hire:

Testimonial close: Share stories of how you and other employees have benefited by working at the organization while relating back to what is important to the candidate.

Need close: Clearly articulate how your organization meets the candidate’s needs.

Ben Franklin close: List the pros and cons of the decision.

Summary close: Summarize the highlights and help the candidate visualize what saying “yes” would mean.

“When we actively listen, we begin to understand each candidate’s motivations," Kanaley says. "We've created candidate personas and validated recruiters' skills as a strategic investment, which leads to predictive performance; the creation of brand ambassadors; and ultimately, improved close rates."

Each scenario is unique, she explains. “One candidate might have reservations about their potential for growth and impact in a global healthcare organization, where they perceive themselves as a smaller player in a larger landscape,” Kanaley says. “Another candidate may want flexible scheduling so they can spend more time with their family or continue their education. Applying one of these closing techniques can significantly increase the likelihood of securing a ‘yes’ from the candidate.”

Staying in touch

The interview shouldn’t be the only point of contact with a candidate, especially if the candidate has turned down a job offer, says Kanaley. “A ‘no’ is just a ‘no’ for now,” she adds. She also suggests recruiters check in with any candidate who turns down a position – once after 30 days, and again one year later. “Find out how they are doing and if they are happy in their current job,” she adds. “Just maybe, you can be the hero in the candidate’s journey.”


Kanaley, Darlene Morocco, Chief Nursing Officer, Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, and Terri Murray, Chief Nursing Officer, Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital, recently conducted a series of "Getting to Yes" presentations for Cleveland Clinic Talent Acquisition caregivers. Tailored to hiring leaders, the sessions provided skills development in attracting talent and maintaining connections with candidates throughout the recruitment process.

Kanaley says attendees found the seminars to be valuable and informative, and expressed appreciation for the new insights they gained. Their feedback included the following comments:

  • "I love the idea of sending a letter to the candidate after the interview."
  • "Loved the focus on getting to know the 'why' of the candidate."
  • "I found all of it helpful, from the storytelling to letting candidates know how Cleveland Clinic meets THEIR needs."


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