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Situation

As the nation’s largest integrated health care system, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) must be prepared to provide medical care to 23 million Veterans and serve over nine million Veterans currently enrolled in VA health care while supporting national, state and local public health, emergency management, safety and homeland security efforts. As of September 2019, VA had 49,000 vacancies to be filled—many of them critical health positions such as physicians, nurses, mental health professionals and pharmacists. 

Focus Areas
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Media Planning and Placement
  • Campaign Development
  • Social Media Strategy
  • Partnership Development
  • Event Planning

Need

To continue providing quality care to the nation’s Veterans, VHA must reduce shortages in physician specialties, nursing and other occupations and replenish the increasing number of positions that will be left by retiring VA employees. A first-class, competitive recruitment and retention program is critical to realizing those goals. As the office leading VHA’s recruitment marketing efforts, VHA Workforce Management and Consulting (WMC) must reach numerous prospects, attract the interest of those who are highly qualified—amid a highly competitive national recruiting environment—and hire the best.

Action:

Aptive developed an aggressive, multifaceted strategic marketing plan to bolster recruitment and hiring through targeted advertising, career events, marketing and media outreach, and internal and external partnerships. We recommended innovative, cost-effective strategies to build awareness of VA health care careers through effective strategic communications and partner engagement, as well as stronger media buy tactics.

Key actions

We devised a comprehensive strategic plan. We created an annual strategic marketing plan that identified internal and external partners, and key tactics and recruitment messages for segmented audiences. We also developed marketing plans for several specific recruiting initiatives that focused on military spouses, transitioning service members, nurses, retired health care professionals and housekeeping staff.

We crafted compelling communications. Our posts to VA’s VAntage Point blog promoted recruitment campaign initiatives and provided job seekers with tips and useful information on finding a position at VA. We created brochures, flyers and ads promoting the benefits and rewards of a VA career that recruiters could print and take to career events. We used social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, to promote our blogs, videos and other resources. Our contributions to VA’s internal newsletters and publications have kept VA recruiters, administrators, executives and other employees up to date on WMC recruitment efforts and informed them of new tools and materials they could share with co-workers and potential VA employees.

We ran an innovative paid media campaign. A central component of our integrated recruitment marketing approach was a media buying plan. We used a digital-first approach with the primary goal of limiting wasted investment on a traditional television buy, targeting audiences based on data segments relevant to VHA’s mission-critical vacancies. The approach allowed our team to be fast and flexible when targeting audience segments and optimizing strategies, media and creative. The plan included PSAs, Hulu ads and radio and television spots.

We launched a successful organic social media campaign. To support recruitment across social platforms, we developed a social marketing plan to educate, engage and activate potential VA health care employees. Our messaging was shared by outlets such as NPR, NBC’s Today and Military Times. We created four multicast events for Veterans, transitioning military and military spouses on using LinkedIn effectively that were broadcast on VA Careers’ LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter channels. We also developed and promoted a series of 20 videos highlighting the many health care careers available at VA.

We developed and attended popular hiring events. Our onsite and virtual career events for local and national recruiters have been widely well-attended. Support for in-person events included developing event marketing plans; creating and distributing pre- and post-event GovDelivery emails; and developing paid digital marketing, promotional blog posts and social media promotions on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Our virtual career event marketing support included working with hiring managers to build the event shell on the Brazen platform; coordinating training sessions; promoting the event through social media, paid advertising and GovDelivery; and providing live technical support and troubleshooting during each event.

Results and Benefits

  • Increased leads, applications and hires. Our combined marketing and advertising strategies for FY2019 contributed to 2,068,159 total applications received and 49,409 total hires, a nearly 50% increase in hires from the previous year. Results for the following mission-critical positions included:

  • 17,095 physician applications — 2,964 hires, at a cost-per-hire of 1/25th the industry average.

  • 232,628 nurse applications — 8,160 hires at a cost per hire of 1/10th the industry average.

  • Increased presence on social media. Organic social media presence via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn increased dramatically in one year:

  • Messages sent: 2,630 messages — 100% one-year increase.

  • Followers: 37% increase in net follower growth to 228,631.

  • Impressions: 301% increase for a total of 121,751,575 impressions.

  • Engagement: 967% increase for 4,268,672 total engagements.

  • Clicks: 930% increase for 2,000,000 total clicks.

  • Increased website views and referrals. Google Analytics showed 6,043,340 user visits to VACareers.va.gov in one year and 7,181,442 referrals from VACareers.va.gov to USAJobs.

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Aptive

421 King Street
Suite #200
Alexandria, VA 22314

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