Promoting VA Career Options Across the Nation
With a health care worker shortage leaving 50,000 unfilled positions every year, how can the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) successfully promote their career opportunities and recruit quality candidates?
The nation is facing a health care worker shortage. Like other medical systems, VHA faces challenges attracting health professionals and support staff to apply for vacant positions. VHA faces the additional challenge of replacing a large portion of its workforce at or near retirement. Providing high-quality care to our nation’s Veterans requires that VHA strategically recruit, hire and retain generalists and specialists, particularly in mission-critical occupations. As the country’s largest integrated health care system, VHA must fill close to 50,000 positions yearly to staff its more than 1,300 medical centers and facilities, all while facing intense competition from the private sector.
Promoting VHA careers required an enterprise-scale, multi-modal approach
Within VHA, many health care professionals are retiring or approaching retirement age. And like the rest of the nation’s health care system, there is a shortage of personnel entering the workforce. This growing shortage in physician specialties, nursing, pharmacy and facility support—like housekeeping—is particularly pronounced in rural areas.
Tasked with caring for our nation’s Veterans, VHA must attract and retain the highest caliber employees. With Veterans from every walk of life, attracting a diverse candidate pool is essential to providing them with high-quality care. And with recruitment needs that span the nation, effectively marketing VHA careers is challenging.
While salaries may not be as competitive as those in the private sector, particularly in large metropolitan areas, VHA positions offer exceptional benefits and the opportunity to serve those who have served us. VHA needed a broader and more aggressive approach to bolster recruitment and hiring for positions across its health care system. To accomplish this, VHA partnered with Artemis and Aptive to strategize and implement a public career awareness campaign.
Meticulous planning and strategic implementation to spread VHA’s career messaging
Our team brought a multitude of experiences and strengths to the project to ensure top results, including talented program management and marketing professionals, data scientists, business analysts, writers and editors, systems engineers, video producers, graphic designers and event planners.
We employ an integrated recruitment marketing approach underpinned by data-driven, innovative media buying. This holistic approach to all recruitment marketing efforts combines media buys with communications strategy, public relations and outreach, social media, creative strategy and content, and event management. The approach enables VHA to reach and further engage stakeholders along the recruitment marketing funnel.
STRATEGIC MARKETING PLAN
The first step was to collaborate on a comprehensive strategic plan to identify all involved stakeholders, key messages and tactics to reach multiple target audiences. The strategic plan focused on numerous target audiences, including Veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses; students; Spanish-speaking health care professionals; and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The plan included a diversity of marketing materials, information on best practices to ensure top marketing performance and a fresh look and feel that communicated the many advantages of working for VHA. Messaging emphasized VHA’s diverse workforce, substantial benefits and the ability to work anywhere in the country and to have a good work-life balance. Our team also analyzed every aspect of recruitment advertising when creating the strategic plan to facilitate a competitive approach.
MULTI-MODAL MARKETING APPROACH
Generating active leads for the tens of thousands of open VHA positions required a multi-modal marketing approach. After designing cohesive themes, creating organic video content and integrating key messaging into a diversity of marketing materials, VHA and our team positioned recruitment marketing across:
- VA Careers and recruitment websites
- Public service announcements (PSAs)
- Social media
- Weekly live broadcasts
- Flyers, brochures and fact sheets
- Paid advertisements on digital platforms
- In-person and virtual recruitment events
- External partner websites and social media channels
Staggering hiring numbers at a fraction of average industry hiring costs
VHA set out to market and advertise exciting career options and unique opportunities to serve Veterans through working in VA’s health care system. In the first four years of the project, VHA observed increasing applications and hiring numbers. Our efforts resulted in:
- 49,409 hires from 2,068,159 total applicants in fiscal year 2019 (FY19)
- 51,003 hires from 2,065,001 applicants in fiscal year 2020 (FY20)
- 50,724 hires from 2,601,964 applicants in fiscal year 2021 (FY21)
- 53,000 hires from 2,616,886 applicants in fiscal year 2022 (FY22)
IMPRESSIONS AND CONVERSIONS
Across all marketing platforms, VA had strong engagement with target audiences. Airings and impressions of VA’s English and Spanish career PSAs rose significantly from FY21 to FY22. In addition, VA Careers’ 110 blog posts received more than 686,000 views and search engine marketing drove nearly 1.5 million clicks to the VA Careers website for an overall click through rate of 7.45% and cost per click of $0.56. Industry averages for employment related search ads are 5.93% and $3.94, respectively.
In FY22, VA Careers’ combined marketing and advertising strategies and tactics resulted in 1,202,234,567 impressions which led to approximately 53,200 hires. With continued support and award-winning engagement campaigns, VHA can meet its hiring challenges and attract top candidates to serve those who served the United States.
For its successful career outreach efforts, VA Careers won numerous awards from reputable organizations, including:
- 2022 Hermes Creative Award for career recruitment video
- 2022 Hermes Creative Award for career social media graphics
- 2022 MarCom Award for recruitment video
- 2022 MarCom Award for best print media (brochure)
- 2021 Public Relations Society of America Bronze Anvil Award in the LinkedIn Engagement category for VA’s first-ever LinkedIn Live broadcast to advertise health care careers — “Talk About It Tuesday”
- 2021 PR Daily Digital Marketing and Social Media Awards for Best Annual Report
- 2021 Silver Telly Award for Best Promotional Video (“Innovation” PSA)
- 2021 Communicator Award of Distinction (“Innovation” PSA)
- 2021 Hermes Creative Award for Best Recruitment Video (“Innovation” PSA)
- National strategic campaigns
- Data-driven recruitment
- Tailored, effective outreach
Our Team’s Advantage
- In-house media buying and creative capabilities
- Strategic planning
- Award-winning multimedia outreach
- Diverse expertise in business, systems engineering, data science, program management and marketing and communications