By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.ALLOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – The sign on Melanie Craig’s desk reads, “I AM THE PATIENT.”
Over a year, Craig, the Bassett Healthcare Network’s director of human resources and employee relations, will tell you, she and her staff – five recruiters and two employment assistants – are seeking to fill 250-300 jobs, full and part-time, not counting doctors.
Even with that hiring challenge, it’s still competitive. Last year, 10,000 people applied for non-physician jobs through Craig’s office, which recruits for Bassett Hospital, the 19 school-based health centers, and 31 regional primary health centers, from Walton to Newport.
This doesn’t include hiring doctors, handled by a Medical Staff Recruitment Team, under Debra Ferrari. The other full-service hospitals, including Fox in Oneonta, also do their non-physician hiring.
There are 2,855 employees in and around the Cooperstown hospital. In the eight counties, the total employment is 3,835.
With that many jobs, and that many vacancies, and that many applications, how do Craig and her five recruiters and two administrative assistants avoid getting buried?
Remember the sign on her desk. They stay focused.
“We value experience,” Craig said, “and what we feel is going to bring the best value to our patients.”
Craig’s team, she said, is continuously looking to fill openings in a half-dozen categories: nurses, clerical workers, food service workers, maintenance workers, and “allied health positions,” such as radiation technicians and pharmacists.
The jobs require the whole range of qualifications. On the one hand, housekeeping jobs may not require a high-school diploma; on the other, some nursing positions require an R.N. with a master’s degree.
“It’s harder to recruit,” Craig said, echoing – with a 3.9 percent local unemployment rate – what all other employers interviewed for THE JOB SCENE said. “We’re not seeing the volume of candidates we want to see.”
This requires flexibility.
In one recent case, a manager had passed over a resumé. But the recruiter met the
applicant and communicated back to the manager, “I really think you want to meet with this person,” who was then hired.
“Just because they are applying for one position, that’s not the one position we are considering them for,” Craig added.
Craig’s department has also developed “stronger partnerships” with high schools, “from here to
Dolgeville, Franklin, and everywhere in between,” to make young people aware of the opportunities.
A new component in Bassett hiring strategy, not under Craig’s wing, is international recruitment, from the Middle East, the Philippines, Canada and Trinidad. “That’s huge,” she said.
Once hired, there’s also flexibility. A new hire is required to stay in that first job six months before – having gotten acclimated to the hospital and opportunities – making a request for transfer.
“We encourage that,” said Craig, who pointed out that her boss, Sara Albright, vice president/human resources, is a case in point how that can work out.
Albright joined Bassett’s billing department 28 years ago, when her husband Matt enrolled at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, and moved up the ladder.
So has Craig, who went from CCS to Purdue, where she majored in business, then joined Marriott Vacation Club in Hilton Head, N.C. She and husband Tom returned to Otsego County 19 years ago,
joined Bassett HR 17 years ago. The couple has two children, Hannah, 14, and Dylan, 10.