Healthcare Recruiting

How To Get into Healthcare Recruiting

The healthcare recruitment industry has grown enormously in recent years. Of course, the pandemic accelerated medical advancements faster than ever before, and it’s clear that the healthcare industry is on the cusp of further explosive growth.

If you’re keen to get into healthcare recruitment, having a comprehensive understanding of industry-specific terminology plus a passion for the sector’s intricacies and technological innovations will clearly give you a competitive edge.

It’s within this landscape that one of our experts lends their insights to aspiring individuals seeking to carve their paths in this demanding field.

In this interview article, Mike Walmsley advises potential healthcare recruiters to conduct detailed but quick and easy industry research to understand job titles, and to be able to showcase expertise during interviews signals to recruitment, directors that you are likely to succeed in the healthcare recruitment sector. 

How does one get into the healthcare recruitment industry? 

  • Research the healthcare industry on YouTube and use AI chat tools like ChatGPT to understand terminology and decide if it’s the right sector for you.
  • E.g. find 30 healthcare job titles using AI, and have the AI explain them in simple terms so that you can understand them quickly.
  • When you enter the industry, start building your LinkedIn network by sending connection requests to hiring managers within the healthcare industry and also begin posting consistently about your healthcare recruitment expertise.
  • Attend healthcare industry specific networking events. Of course you can research this, but you can also ask candidates and clients which networking events they value. 
  • Master of the art of selling. This is even more important than deep knowledge of the healthcare recruitment industry, because regardless of what recruitment sector you enter, recruitment is a sales job.

“The first thing is to ask yourself is; “is the healthcare industry the correct one for me?” Because I’ve worked with hundreds of recruiters over the years and sometimes people have started off in a sector and then told me they don’t enjoy it. So question number one to ask yourself is, ‘Will I enjoy healthcare recruitment?’ If the answer to that is yes, then do some research. Now, the obvious places to start are YouTube and AI such as ChatGPT. The sad fact of the matter is most human beings want a quick fix. They’ll see this advice about investing their own time on YouTube or AI, but they will not prepared to put in the hard yards. Ask yourself this, will it kill you to go on YouTube for 30 minutes this evening and 30 minutes at the weekend in your own time researching the market? So I would definitely be on YouTube. I would search for job titles within the healthcare industry and then go on YouTube to see if someone has created a video explaining those job titles.

I would also strongly recommend using AI tools such as chatGPT, Copilot, Google Genesis, and I would put a prompt in there. I would prompt the AI so that it understands better what I’m trying to get from it. Something like this,

Prompt: you are a healthcare recruitment expert with other 20 years experience. You have in-depth knowledge of job titles in that sector. Do you understand?

After I have prompted the AI, I would then instruct it, something like this,

“List 30 job titles from the healthcare industry.” 

And then I would get the AI to explain those job titles to me, perhaps something like this

Job title number one: write a typical job description for XYZ job title, then explain it to me in layperson’s terms.’ 

And if there are any acronyms or things that I don’t understand, I would say, 

‘Break that down into simpler terms. Explain it to me as if I’m a 17 year old.’ and so on.

So I would get the AI to teach me the rudimentary elements of healthcare and then that would give me a good foundational understanding. It would help me to decide, decide whether or not I want to get into this market? So the next thing is, if I want to get into healthcare recruitment is to imagine that when a director of the healthcare recruitment company is interviewing you, they want trainees who are sharp and hungry with great attitudes. How many of the people they interview do you think would’ve done the things that I just recommended? By default, you will be impressing that healthcare recruitment, director, because you’ve already researched the healthcare recruitment industry.

So by now, perhaps you have already spent 5 or 6  hours on YouTube. You already understand the terminology. And you don’t just understand it in a basic sense. You’ve gone deep, you’ve put the effort in. And therefore, if I’m interviewing you, and I’ve got a short list of three people, two of whom have got great personalities and they’re hungry and they’re driven, and you with a great personality, hungry and driven, but you’ve got a better understanding of the healthcare industry, I’m thinking, “I’ve got a special person here. I’ve got somebody who doesn’t just talk the talk about being a quick learner. They’ve actually proven it to me on the interview. They’ve already done their research, they’ve already done their homework, and they’ve already got the passion for my sector.”

What are the essential skills and qualities needed to excel in the healthcare industry?

“The most essential skill is the same whether you’re in finance, recruitment, IT recruitment, construction, recruitment or any market sector – and that is sales. The sector knowledge is the only difference, and the passion for it. So if someone said that they want to get into IT recruitment, I would give them the same advice that I’ve just shared, which is do the research, understand the terminology, is it the right sector for you? Do you have the passion for it?

Because you don’t need to be a complete expert in every single job title in order to become a top recruiter in healthcare recruitment or finance recruitment or IT recruitment. And if you think the proof of that is, for example the HR director of let’s say, Glaxo or a big pharmaceuticals company. That HR director hold a highly responsible position, but does he or she know every intimate detail of every single job title of every single person they hire in Glaxo each year? The answer to that is no. But they are highly skilled at interviewing, i.e. they are a recruitment expert.

Of course you’ve got to have an understanding of your market, but you’ve got to become a recruitment expert. So it’s less about being an expert in healthcare, although what I’ve just described is obviously very valuable to do that research. And it’s more about becoming an expert in recruitment and in sales. Like the HR person in Glaxo, you need to master the right questions to ask when interviewing healthcare professionals. And that’s a skill which you can learn. Even more important than that though is understanding how to sell. The reason I say that is that the hidden secret of top sales people is questioning and questioning is a key skill when interviewing, so you need to master both interviewing technique and sales.”

Is networking important in healthcare recruitment? If so, what are the networking strategies?

“Networking is important in any recruitment career, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be physical networking, although those kind of events are valuable. There’s the skill of networking a room, being able to introduce yourself to target individuals in the room, being able to disengage so that you meet sufficient numbers of target candidates and clients. This is a skill a real life events. But nowadays a lot of networking can be done kind of virtually of course. 

Now, that’s a bit dangerous for me to say, because some people will just rely on social media only. To become a top recruiter you need to  build your offline networks, which are physical, real people, real events as well as virtual events. Those virtual events might include live streams, which is a skill to master in today’s world. And then you’ve got networking within your LinkedIn network and building your brand profile, your personal brand within healthcare recruitment. If that’s your sector, is hugely important to build your personal LinkedIn brand profile as an expert within healthcare recruitment. So your LinkedIn profile needs to look like you are an expert, you do have to be truthful. But you can easily position that with some creative thought.  Try googling, ‘Best performing LinkedIn profiles for healthcare recruiters. And you’ll get ideas from other people in other parts of the world.’ 

I saw one from a guy on LinkedIn, who worked in in IT recruitment in Texas and he put ‘the most connected IT recruiter in Texas’ on his LinkedIn profile. That says something to his target audience, doesn’t it? And it’s like, well, this guy is saying he’s the most connected, maybe he is. Let’s test him out. So you got to think carefully about your LinkedIn profile. Then you got to build your network. And building your network requires some effort. LinkedIn currently has a cap of 100 new connection invitations per week. If you get a 20% to 30% acceptance rate, then you’ve got 20 to 30 new potential candidates and potential clients per week in your network.

And then you want to be looking at Social Selling strategies on LinkedIn, posting consistently on LinkedIn about your expertise in the healthcare recruitment industry. Learn how to do this and your network will grow and grow on autopilot. So you’ve got online networks, which you can joinn, and social selling – i..e. the ability to post on LinkedIn to attract inbound candidates and inbound clients within your niche, which is very important nowadays. Many recruiters still. don’t understand the power of this. We’ve built a twelve part training series just on that, and it’s very, very important, but it’s only one part of building your personal brand.” 

The biggest tip I would give for physical events is what I call “Research on the fly”

“Research on the fly is quicker than Google research. For example, I’m talking to a healthcare candidate or whatever sector I’m in. I say,

‘Thanks, John. Have a nice weekend. Oh, by the way, just before I go, I’m doing some research on networking events in the healthcare industry. What, if any, networking events do you go to?’

‘Oh, you go to the XYZ healthcare networking event.’ 

‘Really? What kind of people go there?’ 

‘Hundreds of people like you.’ 

‘Really? How do you get a ticket?’ 

These things happen for the kind of person who’s prepared to ask that one additional question than others ask. So, to identify the best networking events is very important. 

If you don’t do the research, you could end up attending a generic networking event, for example the Milton Keynes chamber of Commerce networking event. So there you go. You buy your ticket, you go to the event, and the room is full of plumbers and dentists and doctors and architects and engineers, not healthcare professionals that you place. So the mantra I have for networking is very simple and it’s this, 

“Find out where they go and go to those places”

So why would you not do that? Why would you not find out where the healthcare professionals go and then go to those places rather than going to generic networking events with people that are of little value to you? So that was my strategy. Talk to candidates, talk to clients, find out where they go, and then see if you can go to those places.”

Do you need to have a particular certification or courses to enter healthcare recruiting?

Do you need to have a particular certification or courses to enter healthcare recruiting?

No, I think it’s overblown. Is there a value of having a certificate? Yeah, there’s a value. Much more important, however, is to learn how to sell. The most important part of recruitment is selling. Does a qualification help you get through the door? Does it look good on your LinkedIn profile? Yes, but if you want to get a qualification in some kind of healthcare related area, then of course that is likely to enrich your knowledge of your sector. But it’s not going to help you to recruit. What’s going to help you to recruit is sales ability, knowledge, how to headhunt candidates, how to overcome objections from candidates such as, “I’m happy where I am”. “I’m not looking to make a move”. 

Mastering the ability to overcome those kinds objections is much more important, as is mastering the ability to overcome objections from clients. “We’re not hiring at the moment” “We’re happy with our current suppliers” “We use internal recruiters”.

“We’ve got a preferred supplier list”. “Send me your details”. “Let me think about it”. “I’m not interested”. These are the things that the best recruiters in any sector, healthcare or otherwise, master. And that’s one of the main reasons they go to the top.”

What trend do you foresee that will shape the future of healthcare industry?

“Technological advancements, in particular, AI.

There is a futurist that I followed called Peter Diamandes. The current advances in medicine are truly incredible. One that I read relatively recently is about advancements in treating eyesight problems. Of course, it’s well known that you can get laser surgery to correct many eyesight problems nowadays. And, when you enter all age, you might at some point be unfortunate enough to get a cataract. You may know that the treatment for that currently is to replace the eyesight lens with an artificial lens. It’s called interocular.

My father had it, and he said to me, he’s got better than 20/20 vision. And he was 80 years old! He told me that he woke up and the colors and the vibrancy and the brightness and the sharpness of his vision was just the best it’s been for 30 or 40 years. He was like a little boy. It’s fantastic to see. 

Well, how about this? In the not too distant future, you won’t need that. They can inject a liquid lens, which will give you, I think it’s called 40/20 vision. It will give you twice the vision of a normal human being. Elon Musk was in the press just a few days ago where talking about a guy who’s paralyzed who was playing chess just with his brain. He was able to think and the chess pieces move. Is it any wonder that Musk has invested in that biometrics company?

So we all know about these advancements in medicine. And if you look at the pandemic and COVID and all the rapid advancements in vaccines that were unparalleled until that major catastrophe, that’s all now mainstream. And then you’ve got AI, which accelerates research and can do things in seconds, and these supercomputers, which are hundreds of times more powerful than the most powerful computer we’ve ever used, can solve huge problems that might take 1000 years, ordinarily in ten minutes. So I think the healthcare industry is going to go through seismic changes and I only see growth.”

Q: So if you want to be a healthcare recruiter, you should research all these new technologies as well?

“I think you should be aware of it. You might wonder how am I aware of it? The simple answer is because I’m widely read. I read the news every day. It’s just a habit I’ve had since I was a little boy, really. I’m also ‘widely read’ on YouTube! I do my homework, and and I’m curious. I think a great attribute of any recruiter is curiosity. And I would advise if you want to go to the top in any job, have that curious nature. You know, when you’re a child and you go in the garden and there’s wonder in your eyes as a little insect goes on your hand and you look at it and you think, “wow”. And you ask that question to your mummy and your daddy, “why does it do this?” Why do we stop doing that as we get older?

Why is there not that curiosity to learn the wonder of things? Regain your child-like curiosity and be curious for curiosity’s own sake. That will do wonders for you. You’ll become more passionate about your industry, you’ll learn more about it then your competitors. Some simple examples: when you’re on a client meeting, ask clients to explain things. When you’re interviewing a candidate, say something like, ‘Could you break that down to me in its simplest terms?’”

If I’m interviewing a candidate and I don’t understand some healthcare recruitment terminology, then I’m going to say, 

John, could you break these things on your CV? Break them down into the simplest terms. Please explain them to me as if I know nothing whatsoever about healthcare.’ 

Get them to explain things to you and that’s a good tip to get improving your understanding of the healthcare industry on a daily basis. 

Another way of doing it, and I’ve done this in the past, particularly when I’m new, is I phone a friendly candidate, and they help me.

‘Hey John, it’s Mike here. How are you, John? I want you to ask for your help. I hope you don’t mind me asking and please feel free to ask for my help in return. If there’s anything I can do for you.

But I’m relatively new to the healthcare industry. I think I mentioned to you. Would you mind just explaining these things to me please?’

There’s nothing wrong with that. If it’s with a particularly friendly candidate. I wouldn’t do it with someone who’s a little bit, I don’t know, stern or agitated in any way. I would just choose the right person and you’d be surprised how many people say, yeah, no problem.”


In conclusion, navigating a career path in healthcare recruiting requires a combination of industry knowledge, sales ability, a great attitude, networking, and dedication. Mike Walmsley’s insights provide valuable guidance for those looking to embark on this rewarding journey. By leveraging the expertise shared in this interview, aspiring healthcare recruiters can take proactive steps towards achieving their career goals.

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