Matchmaking with Human Resources Recruiter Abigail Caldwell

Story and Photo by Jeremiah Kalb

There’s a line from the 1971 musical Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye’s second daughter, Hodel, voices her wish that Yente looks through her book and make her a perfect match.

The story is set in early 20th century Russia but is not unlike the story that unfolds every day at the desk of one particular employee in the hospital.

Instead of the “matches” living in or around the little town of Anatevka, the “candidates” Human Resources recruiter Abigail “Abby” Caldwell is looking for can be found visiting Indeed.com or a few other job websites.

Caldwell’s applicant tracking software quickly posts jobs to the Indeed site, where 250 million people visit every month, giving her a link to the most talent in every field.

“We’ve been happy with the reach it can give us,” Caldwell says.

Before she posts a job, Caldwell makes sure she knows the position inside and out, including the person-environment fit.

By matching the right personality with the right job, the chances for better synergy, lower turnover, and higher job satisfaction are greater.

“If the hiring manager runs a very quiet department, putting a very loud person in there may not be the best thing,” she explains.

The telephone is Caldwell’s best friend when it comes to sizing up each applicant and their suitability for the organization. “A lot of phone conversations,” she says. “The more individuals call me, the more I get to know.”

Surprisingly, most of them call Caldwell asking her what they are qualified to do in the hospital.

“Most individuals’ exposure to hospitals are from sitcoms on TV,” she jokes.

At this stage in the matchmaking process, there’s a bit of helping the candidate adjust their lens to see better how a hospital actually operates and who does what.

“A lot of individuals do not realize that our nurses don’t do radiology, that we actually have radiology techs who do that,” she says. “And there’s schooling that’s associated with it.”

Once the facts are laid out on the table, Caldwell can begin to explore all the options with the applicant.

She often takes on the role of a ‘big sister’ with any applicant who wants to know what she knows.

“It’s a lot of going through and asking what is it that you like?” she says. Things like, “Tell me about yourself. What’s your dream job? If you’re trying to go this path, we can give it to you in this type of position.”

Caldwell has no problem steering someone away from nursing who does not like blood or asking someone to think twice about medical coding if they do not like staring at a computer screen all day long.

“It really goes back to just getting to know them,” she says.

Ultimately, the right personality and attitude beat skill any day for Caldwell. She likes to point out that every skill can be taught.

What’s the secret to landing a job at Madison?

Caldwell cites a great work ethic. “If we are all doing our best and patients are having a good experience, you can go anywhere in this hospital,” she says.

A good recruiting day for Caldwell is when directors and hiring managers come back to her and say, ‘I had a hard decision. I had to pick between two, and I liked them both.’

Whoever the hiring manager selects, she knows they need to be passionate about the end goal.

Whether it’s a nurse starting an IV or a housekeeper preparing a room for the next patient, they need to be passionate about creating a space for healing. “They need to want to make a difference,” Caldwell says.

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