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By deploying OnDemand Recruiting, Recruiting Optimization and Recruitment Marketing services

Client Testimonial Video: Brent McCombs, Division VP of Human Resources at UT Health

About Proactive Talent:

Proactive Talent is the leading power partner to your recruiting engine.

We're a coalition of recruiting and talent brand practitioners who provide the necessary tools to tighten your hiring gaps, bolster your retention rates and embolden your company mission, giving you the competitive edge needed in the ever-changing recruiting industry.

With a holistic approach, we work alongside clients to help them build a powerful recruiting engine that enables them to efficiently attract, recruit, and retain top talent.

About UT Health East Texas (UTHET):

Formed in 2018 through the combination of East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System (ETMC) and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UT Health Northeast), UTHET provides care to thousands of patients each year through its extensive regional network of hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, freestanding emergency centers, urgent care facilities and other locations.  

The Challenge

UTHET, owned by Ardent Health, was struggling to fill their job roles and had limited resources and time to fulfill the necessary job requisitions required to sustain its business operations.

Case Background

Prior to Ardent Health’s acquisition of ETMC, the facilities functioned entirely independently of each other when it came to recruiting. Additionally, they had no technology in place to support their individual recruiting processes, and instead they were using paper applications. Following the acquisition in April of 2018, Ardent quickly put an automated tracking system (ATS) in place to alleviate the pain of paper applications. Additionally, they took initial steps in centralizing recruiting efforts by having a single recruiter and two recruiting coordinators manage the ATS. Unfortunately, due to the volume of open positions (almost 600), the team’s ability to proactively and effectively manage the volume of applications was extremely limited.  

The team was only able to screen applications for minimum qualifications, then forward to the hiring manager, and then assist with offers. Time and resource limitations kept them from being able to do manage these processes consistently or with any real intentionality and purpose driving it.

The lack of process meant that most of the recruiting activities were impossible to track. It was also impossible to gauge how many applicants were interviewed by a hiring manager, how many were passed on (and/or received no communication after having been contacted), how many people applied and how many total applications were even reviewed. Without these metrics, it was impossible for leadership to have any real insight or understanding of how ineffective and costly this process has been.

Finally, there were no sourcing efforts taking place due to time constraints on the single recruiter; the recruiter’s workload excluded them from being able to provide support in sourcing efforts, and there were no funds invested in recruitment marketing efforts. Because of these obstacles, there was no focused effort on increasing applicant flow.  

Outside of the internal challenges, UTHET was faced with the external realities of a talent shortage in healthcare. There is currently a shortage for available nursing and clinical talent -- one that is expected to continue to shrink as Baby Boomers retire. Clinical programs struggle to have enough educators in place to increase class sizes in support of turning out more healthcare professionals at a faster rate.

Even top-rated hospital systems struggle with recruiting clinical and nursing staff quickly enough. For a relatively small, rural hospital system, the lack of a recruiting strategy created an even larger gap in being able to attract and engage candidates.

UTHET partnered with Proactive Talent and utilized our holistic approach to build a recruiting and talent attraction engine to quickly add firepower to help them catch up in the fight for talent.

Challenges Faced

  • UTHET was tasked with hiring over 600 people specializing in nursing, nursing support, physical therapy, and other roles to start in August of 2018 with only a handful of recruiters supporting over 120 hiring managers.
  • By September/October, UTHET’s hiring requirement need doubled to 1,200 people
  • There were other hospital systems in the DFW area that offered higher wages.
  • They went through a company rebrand and had an unknown employer brand.
  • Hiring for critical RN areas such as RN-Critical Care, RN-Emergency and RN-Medical/Surgical was very difficult and retention was low.
  • Low supply of talent in challenging areas such as Nursing & Physical Therapy.
  • Low unemployment rates of the Tyler, TX and East Texas regions.

Our Solutions

Proactive Talent deployed a specialized team of health care recruiting experts and lead consultant to execute a fully integrated OnDemand Recruiting, Recruiting Optimization and Recruitment Marketing strategy to help UTHET increase their number of hires, reduce overall time to fill and minimize their overall recruitment costs.

When we engaged with the team at Proactive Talent, we had 500+ open roles, one recruiter, minimal processes, and over 100 hiring managers doing their own hiring from paper resumes. We needed to build a modern recruiting team and strategy quick! During the 6 months we worked with Proactive Talent, we tripled our hiring volume while at the same time decreasing our cost per hire by over 50% resulting in over 1,300 positions being filled over that time. Proactive Talent added the firepower we needed in the short term while also building a comprehensive strategy for the long term. No other service provider could have accomplished this for us or worked as such a natural extension of our team as Proactive Talent. I would highly recommend them to other companies needing a partner to fuel their hiring and talent attraction capabilities. - Brent McCombs, SVP Human Resources

OnDemand Recruiting (ODR)

Proactive Talent originally deployed 12 highly experienced healthcare recruiters and quickly added 5 more as the hiring demand grew shortly after the engagement kick-off. At the time of kick-off, there were 563 open positions. Within the first week, the Proactive Talent lead consultant assigned to the engagement evaluated the number of open positions, designed a requisition distribution strategy, crafted communications to be delivered within the organization for introduction of the ODR model, assigned requisitions to recruiters, and developed a new recruiting process. Within two days of requisition assignments, all hiring managers had received an initial outreach from their recruiter to immediately begin recruiting on their roles and recruiters had a process in hand for immediately taking action.

Within the first 45 days of the ODR engagement, the recruiting team extended 236 offers, accounting for 42% of positions open at the time of the kick-off. During this same period, though, UTHET opened and additional 395 jobs. Over the course of the engagement, the Proactive Talent ODR team managed upwards of 2,000 job postings, filling 1,332 positions, which is more than 2x the original goal. Of these filled jobs, 70% were external hires and 41% were nurses.

Prior to the Proactive Talent ODR engagement, UTHET’s cost per hire was averaging over $4,000 per hire, on par with the national average across industries. With the Proactive Talent ODR strategy in motion, the cost per hire was cut in half to less than $2,000 per hire. This resulted in an over 50% reduction in staffing costs equal to $2.6M dollars in total cost savings.   

Recruiting Optimization (RO)

During the course of the six month engagement, Proactive Talent provided Recruiting Optimization (RO) consulting services in conjunction with ODR efforts. Engagement of these two pieces together allowed senior HR leaders at UTHET to leverage the functional expertise of the recruiters on current job openings while building a strategy for future recruitment success.

Upon kicking off the engagement, the lead consultant immediately partnered with UTHET’s internal HR team to design and deliver a recruiting process that created a positive candidate and hiring manager experience while simultaneously creating a data-driven recruiting process that allowed clear line of sight for UTHET leaders to understand the effectiveness of their recruiting efforts.

The lead consultant spent time one-on-one with hiring managers and senior leaders in order to understand their perceptions of the current recruiting function and their hopes for the future of recruiting. These conversations resulted in identifying common themes where leaders across the system saw opportunities for improvement, as well as where they believed UTHET was already being successful. This allowed the lead consultant to be instrumental in building out a more efficient recruiting process, better utilization of their ATS and recognized significant gaps that we could fill in the process.

The impact of this specific engagement resulted in UTHET bringing down the average days to hire from 68 days down to 41 (shaving an average of 27 days and a 40% improvement off time to fill).

In addition to the implement a new recruiting process, the lead consultant:

  • Conducted an evaluation and assessment of ATS capabilities followed by an overhaul of ATS utilization to better support the recruiting process and the delivery of recruitment data
  • Led the evaluation and selection of recruiting technology and tools
  • Designed the hiring manager portal experience
  • Collaborated on the creation of the recruiter playbook
  • Provided hiring manager and recruiter trainings
  • Provided one-on-one coaching to recruiting team members
  • Designed future state organizational structure
  • Evaluated internal talent and identified opportunities for career development
  • Led the recruiting effort to build in the internal recruiting team
  • Created communication plans for rollouts of recruiting changes and programs


Within the first 45 days of the ODR engagement, the recruiting team extended 236 offers, accounting for 42% of positions open at the time of the kick-off. During this same period, though, UTHET opened 395 additional jobs. Over the course of the engagement, the Proactive Talent ODR team managed upwards of 2,000 job postings, filling 1,332 positions, which is 2x the original goal. Of these filled jobs, 70% were external hires and 41% were nurses.

Prior to the Proactive Talent ODR engagement, UTHET’s cost per hire was running about $4,000/hire, on par with the national average across industries. With the Proactive Talent ODR in motion, the cost per hire was cut almost in half to just over $2,000/hire. This resulted in a $2.6 million dollars in savings.

The Proactive Talent team achieved massive success for UTHET's recruiting efforts:

An additional 600 roles were opened within first two months of the engagement

1,300+ roles were filled by the recruiting team reducing overall time to fill by 40%

in Recruiting Cost Savings

Recruitment Marketing

Proactive Talent built and implemented an entire recruitment marketing strategy for UTHET based on data-centric strategies and technology to optimize ROI from targeted advertising. The entire strategy was powered by an award-winning recruitment marketing analytics, programmatic advertising, and optimization platform, Recruitics.

Today, UTHET is now using modern strategies to target and recruit candidates such as:

  • Programmatic job advertising
  • Targeted, industry-focused marketing
  • Social media & Facebook Mobile Apply
  • Brand Awareness
  • Sourcing & Engagement Tools
  • As recruitment Agency of Record, the Proactive Talent Recruitment Marketing Team provided on-going support in managing the recruitment marketing strategy, media channel relationships and continually optimizing all facets to the best possible performance. Media planning, media strategy, media execution, optimization, reporting, analysis of strengths and weaknesses, recruitment tool training, learning opportunities, media trial opportunities, numerous cost-saving negotiations and more.

Recruitment Marketing Highlights

Proactive Talent setup several trial opportunities with negotiated budget “matches" where the media matched UTHET’s investment. This allowed the opportunity to test channels at a low risk before investing more deeply.

  • $12,000 in negotiated “free” budget matches offered by media vendors for the first 3 months, in addition to discounts on other media buys.
  • Cost Per Apply benchmarking. Proactive Talent used recruitment marketing analytics to discover the optimal, competitive cost per completed application.
  • Proactive Talent executed data-driven, programmatically optimized ad campaigns across a marketplace of hundreds of job boards, search engines and niche sites – all optimized to the cost per application goals.
  • Proactive Talent installed campaign performance data-insights by ad channel, by job family/department and specific jobs req IDs.
  • Proactive Talent focused on hard-to-fill areas of RN-Emergency, RN-Critical Care, RN-Med/Surgery, Physical Therapy and more.
  • Proactive Talent enabled several multi-channel engagement strategies: Niche destinations, Programmatic ad campaigns, Social, Email, Text (SMS), Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Search Engines, Job Boards, Industry Associations, ATS re-marketing.

Within the first 3 months of the engagement Proactive Talent Recruitment Marketing team dramatically increased inbound applications and candidate quality

How We Accomplished This

  • Proactive Talent immediately increased applicant flow​ to key job departments with programmatic job distribution to more and better-performing and optimized marketing channels​.  
  • Proactive Talent benchmarked the first 3 months of media spend performance, followed by in-depth analysis of performance across all job departments/job titles.
  • After understanding the strengths, weaknesses and where there were opportunities to optimize the strategy, Proactive Talent built a data-driven strategy, with programmatic rules to support those business goals:
    • Always On rules; Automatically sponsor your most critical jobs with a specific Job Title, Department or Location keyword, for example: ((Title:"RN") or (Title:"Med/Surg") in (Location:"Tyler, TX"))
    • High Priority rules: If/Then rules, for example, if a job has been live 7 days with less than 5 applications, that job will be higher-prioritized with an increased bid and/or more exposure.
    • Stop! Spending rules: For example, if a job gets 10 applicants, or has spent $100 in advertising, then automatically stop spending on this job. This will keep jobs from getting too many applications (and wasting too much of the budget).

Recruiting Event Promotion

To support the large hiring demand, UTHET partnered with Proactive Talent’s OnDemand Recruiting team to hold career fair events in Tyler, TX and surrounding facilities in East Texas. "Work where you live and love where you work" was the tagline of the events. With limited time to prepare, the challenge was raising awareness and getting candidates to register in a very short period of time. That's where our Recruitment Marketing team came in.

The career fair events were well attended in collaboration with a multi-channel recruitment marketing plan executed in partnership with Proactive Talent’s Recruitment Marketing Team. The campaigns targeted candidates in the Tyler area, as well as other regional metro areas of high interest. For a very nominal media investment, the campaigns resulted in several unique candidates registering for the event in a very short period of time. The events were considered a great success, resulting in over 50 hires.

Recruitment Marketing Highlights

  • Multiple channel engagement strategies: Social, Email, Text (SMS), Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Search Engines, Job Boards, Industry Associations, ATS re-marketing
  • Less than $20 Cost Per RSVP
  • Over 750+ RSVP Responses and multiple leads
  • Tracked Influence of over 50+ hires
  • Multiple channel engagement strategies: Social, Email, Text (SMS), Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Search Engines, Job Boards, Industry Associations, ATS re-marketing.

Additional Outcomes of Our Work:  

  • Proactive Talent launched programmatic advertising, niche-targeting and social media campaigns that increased hires 51% in Month #1 (October) and 126% in Month #2 (November).

Example of a Proactive Talent- run text messaging campaign

Example of an industry association engagement with American Association of Critical Nurses

Example of Indeed posting for the recruiting event

The Overall Payoff

By deploying Proactive Talent’s Recruiting Optimization, OnDemand Recruiting, and Recruitment Marketing services holistically, UTHET was able to find top talent while setting them up for long term recruiting success.

Proactive Talent’s team aided in hiring over 1,300 people, saved UTHET over $2.6 million, and implemented a strong recruitment marketing plan. Throughout the engagement, Proactive Talent was able to save UTHET millions as well as tighten the hiring gaps all while emboldening UTHET’s mission of “delivering the highest quality care with unmatched compassion, outstanding service and innovative technology.”

Proactive Talent successfully worked with UTHET to give them the necessary fire power and tools to competitively power their recruiting engine.

We're Ready

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