Profile Picture
The senior living industry has a voice. You can hear it on Bridge the Gap podcast!

CW 123: Chris Heinz

Identifying, attracting, and retaining talent is not an either/or process. In this month’s episode from recruiting expert Chris Heinz, learn about the “AND” method not only find the right people you need for critical roles but to retain them as well.

During our Mindset Moment, BTG Contributor Chris Heinz, Managing Partner of Westport One, discusses creating a dual-track mindset that will set you up for current success and future success.

Chris Heinz 0:00

When you were working to find the best talent, don’t just do one thing. It does not matter how good you are at that one approach, utilize multiple approaches and by doing so, you will strengthen your chances of finding your next superstar more often.


Welcome to the Contributor Wednesday series on the Bridge the Gap Network. This series is sponsored by Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways. Each week, you’ll hear from a thought leader, discussing topics that are relevant and impactful to the senior living industry.


Welcome to the Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. I’m Chris Heinz. Over my 25 years in recruiting, I have heard a lot of absolutes, things such as internet candidates are only the low hanging fruit and they just won’t last. Or if the candidate won’t give you an answer on your offer within 24 hours, pull the offer and never consider them again. Or how about this one? Nurse leaders from hospitals never work out in assisted living, or finally executive directors from skilled will never last in assisted living. I’m sure you have never heard any of those absolutes, right? 

Yes, I am a professional recruiter. I just mentioned, I’ve been doing it for 25 years. My team of recruiters are talent acquisition specialists. After all, we help companies grow and we directly impact the lives of the people that we place. If you are listening to this episode right now, that means that you must have something to do with hiring, recruitment, interviewing leadership, or retention of the team you already have.


Therefore, my friends, you are all recruiters in one way or another. So welcome to the club. Since we are all recruiters here, you know this, recruiting and hiring do not exist in the world of absolutes. It is not a world of either, or a world of or, recruiting is a world of ands. Whether you were doing a search for your next grade hire, working to keep the ones that you already have, or you are recruiting, looking to build better bench strength. There’s not just one process to follow. There are many. 

Now when I started in the late 1990s, you know, back in the dark ages of the 20th century, prior to a company, having a recruiter like myself directly recruit someone for their position, companies recruited in one primary way, ads in newspapers. Remember those, if you looked through a newspaper long enough, you’d get that black ink stain on your fingers and your hands from that wonderful newspaper print.

The want ads, back then, were many, many pages long, especially the Sunday paper. Most of the ads were that itty bitty print. You practically, even at a young age, need a magnifying glass to read. Of course, except for those companies, with the big books that put in a quarter or a half or even a full page ad. Back then the internet was still in its infancy of capabilities. Websites were comically bareboned and comparing them today was practically laughable., One of the very first job boards, was primarily for the IT industry. Funny side note there, when I was an RA in college, back at Bradley University, one of the students on my floor was actually beta testing the original I sure hope back then he got some shares of that company for doing so. Flash forward to the present day, we have many S.A.A.S. or SAAS services, Software As A Service, that have almost every imaginable contact you could want to find.


We have multiple job boards within each subset of the senior living industry, where companies are promoting all of their openings. Even within these specialty sites, unfortunately, few candidates are identified, and yes, there are artificial intelligence platforms that believe that they can match the jobs to the candidates as successfully as a human. But guess what? That is still very much in its infancy. 

There is that little tiny itty bitty website called LinkedIn, where you can use it for networking and for your recruiting efforts, as well as to build an online brand. And I’ve spoken about that many times in previous episodes. There are some in the industry, who have shifted primarily to a digital marketing system, send an email, send a text, send a LinkedIn InMail. And trust me, I am all for working smart, but this career does not have an easy button. And when I talk about this career, I’m talking about my career in recruiting, your career as a senior leader, your career as an executive director, your career is a director of fill in the blank, your career as a caregiver in the industry. There is no such thing as an easy button in these industries.


If you are going to be successful in recruiting, and remember right now, you are all recruiters. You need to utilize the AND strategy. Use LinkedIn to recruit, AND search job boards, AND text, AND send emails, AND send email campaigns to a targeted list of potential candidates, AND search your applicant tracking system for past candidates. AND, I can’t go any higher, so I’m gonna take it back down low to, AND ask for referrals from industry contacts, AND post your positions on the right job boards, AND use an ethical recruiting specialist like myself, AND create compelling digital content and build your digital brand, AND become an industry thought leader, AND connect with universities that graduate students from within your industry, AND attend industry related conferences, like Bridge the Gap VIP Ignite. AND, AND, AND there’s no more ANDs folks. 

If you got what I’m saying there, this is a time to do more than just one thing. Don’t just rely on one source. Don’t just wait for an ad to bring you the perfect candidate. Don’t just think that your referral network is going to land your next hire. Don’t just think that the employee referral program that you have is going to get you enough candidates to consider. You have to do all these different things that I just mentioned with that wonderful world of AND. Which means that it cannot just be you. You need to empower your team to help. You need to encourage your team to be part of the process.


If you were going to one of my favorite places on earth, Disney World, I highly doubt you would go to Disney World with the intention to only ride the same ride over and over again. And don’t get me wrong. There are definitely a couple of rides there that are worth doing multiple times, but if you were going to go to the happiest place on earth, wouldn’t you wanna ride all of the great rides? 

Well, the same holds true in our world. When you were working to find the best talent, don’t just do one thing. It does not matter how good you are at that one approach. Utilize multiple approaches, and by doing so, you will strengthen your chances of finding your next superstar more often. Sticking with my Disney World analogy, by using the AND approach, you’ll be able to ride all the rides. 


It is now time for our Mindset Moment. And I wanna start this mindset moment with a question. If you are listening to this right now, there’s a great likelihood that you have a job. I’ll even say a career, right? And if you are in that career, in that job, you’re probably doing a pretty good job at it. You might even think that you are excelling at what you do.

My question for you is, are you excelling only at the position that you are currently in, or are you excelling and working towards the position that you want to be in? My recommendation is that you always are thinking about two tracks, the one you are on, and the one you want to eventually be on. You have to excel on the track you’re currently on, and in the role that you are currently in to fill, because if you don’t, you won’t have the opportunity to advance to that next path. You need to be the best, the top, I’ll say, 10% of everyone in a similar position to truly stand out. AND, there’s that word again, you need to be doing many of the elements of the position that you like to eventually have, even though you are not being paid to do so, or have the actual responsibilities of that position.

Let’s go through a couple examples in our senior living world. As a director of nursing, your primary responsibilities are the wellbeing and care of the residents, correct? You must ensure that they have the care that they need, that your care staff is providing them with the best possible care and service, and that your community is following all of the necessary protocols of care and safety. Those regulations. I realize that this is a mini capsulation of all of the responsibilities you have as a director of nursing, but you get my point. If you would eventually like to move into an executive director role, or move into a regional position, you need to think about what the responsibilities of that role would be. As an example, moving into an executive director role, while they are too as well responsible for the overall care of the residents, they also have to be thinking about the overall responsibility of sales, maintenance, activities, community involvement, building appearance, corporate relations, and on and on and on.

So if you aspire to eventually become an ED, how can you help with some of those functions? Could you volunteer to be the point person from a care perspective on sales tours, or in community engagement? You could help with the engagement team to create a more meaningful activity program, to create an even better experience for the residents. You can volunteer to provide coaching to newer DONs at other communities within your organization. 

Yes, these are all added responsibilities to your already busy schedule. Yes, they will take time. But if you have that dual track mindset, you’ll be setting yourself up for future success, as well as that, now success. 

Let’s look at this dual track mindset, if you’re an executive director right now. While you may believe that your plate is already incredibly full, you should be thinking about the future you. Do you want to move into that regional role, an operation specialist role, or an executive position at your corporation? Think about the responsibilities that they have and volunteer to add some of those to your responsibilities that are already on your plate. Maybe it is training new EDs into the system, possibly conducting virtual huddles with a group of other EDs. Could you create a program that is so successful within your community, that you could white paper and present to the entire region, or possibly the entire organization? These are the types of things that will help you stand out among your peers.

Now in no way, am I suggesting that you do less in your current position? There is no quiet quitting, if you wanna be prepared for the future role. Remember, I started this whole conversation off with the reality that you have to excel in your current role before you could either unofficially or even officially move into your future role. 


Now, before I end, I wanna hit you with a little bit of a Bonus Mindset Moment. Because I wanted to share a big moment in my life. When this episode drops at the end of September, I will be less than two weeks away from my planned start, survival, and finish of my solo journey to run for 24 hours. 

While I find running fun. I’m not doing this for the fun of it. I’m doing this run and putting my body and mind through all of this to raise awareness and money for three charities that I am deeply passionate about, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Shriners Hospital for Children, and the one that has the biggest impact on most of you listening, dementia care and the quality of life of those living with dementia.

The reality is those that live with dementia, those that are affected by Crohn’s or Colitis, and the children that are being treated at the Shriners hospitals across the country have to live and battle with their diseases 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The least that I can try to do is try to raise further awareness and raise as much money as I possibly can, for those affected. Because they’re living with it for 24/7, I could try to run for 24 hours. 

I will be sharing a lot leading up to this run and throughout the 24 run itself, primarily on my Instagram and a little bit on LinkedIn. If you wanna follow that journey on Instagram, my handle is Recruiter57. 

AND as long as you hear my voice in the episode in October, then you know I survived. Alrighty gang. I hope you got at least one thing from this discussion on utilizing the AND approach, as well as the Mindset Moment of preparing yourself for your future. 

Of course, if you have any questions, comments, complaints, or even conundrums about these points, please message me on LinkedIn and stay tuned next month for the next chapter in our recruiting and mindset adventures. Again, this is Chris Heinz. Thanks for listening to this week’s BTG Contributor Wednesday. Please make sure to connect with me at

CW 123: Chris Heinz