How to solve your recruitment problem in the care sector

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How to solve your recruitment problem in the care sector

If you recruit (or are trying to) in the care sector, you likely don’t need me to tell you just how difficult a task this can be. I would go as far as saying that this is not just a problem, but a nationwide crisis for the care providers in question. Last year, there were several incidents of care companies having to shut down, not because of a lack of demand or funding but because of staff shortages.

A care provider is only ever as good as the staff it trains and having sufficient numbers is crucial for patient care and the success of the business. We’ve recruited extensively in the care industry for a number of years and now boast an impressive client list of hundreds of national providers and smaller independents (both domiciliary and care homes). We’ve only managed to get to this the level of scale in the Care sector from developing a thorough understanding of the real problems that providers face in today’s market.


Figures from the office of national statistics show that of all vacancies advertised, 15% of them are within the Health and Social Care sectors. What does this mean? Firstly, that there is a huge amount of competition but if you dig deeper into the industries problems you quite quickly realise that competition is not the only problem. The Care Sector struggles to attract candidates like no other – particularly for the requirements it’s vacancies have. Even though many care providers recruit candidates with zero experience and train them in-house, it’s still tough finding enough people who are suitable and willing for the roles advertised. Whilst there is no sure fire solution the following considerations do dramatically improve performance.


The content of your advert(s) is the first step in controlling the quantity and quality of your campaigns response. To be able to create effective adverts you need to have a key understanding of seven major factors:

  • What are the bare minimum candidate requirements for this role? In a highly competitive volume industry with nationwide talent shortages you shouldn’t be pitching the advert for the ten time Care Assistant of year award winner.
  • Who could your opportunity appeal to and how can we reach more candidates like this? From experience you’ll know which applications turn to hires more than others, understanding this and then targeting your campaigns according is crucial. Consider not only your job titles and the keywords you use to optimise them, but think about a candidate’s application process. Would it help if your adverts could be shown to candidates who have previously clicked or applied for care vacancies? How about broadening your search to candidates who are immediately available, searching for the right level of pay vacancies and live in the desired areas.
  • Why should candidates apply for your job as opposed to your competitors. In our experience candidates in the Care industry are looking for a number of factors including (but not limited to) job security, job satisfaction, a clear understanding of their earning potential and an understanding as to what challenges they likely will face in the role.
  • Who are they working for? If candidates are applying for care vacancies a lot of the time they have either worked in the sector or they know somebody else who does/has. If this is the case they will often have heard stories of good employers in the industry and bad employers in the industry, differentiating yourself and your track record is very important.
  • Advertise an advert, not a job description. A full job description posted on 2000 job boards will almost certainly produce an inferior result to a well optimised job advert advertised on two. Candidates don’t want a JD at this stage and even if they do apply it’s unlikely they’ll read the JD in its entirety.
  • Optimization. A correctly optimized recruitment advert is usually viewed 12x more than an advert with zero optimization. This is a stage you simply can’t afford to miss if you’re struggling for applications.
  • Be honest and realistic with rates of pay and training requirements. If you’re rate of pay is not a penny over minimum wage, don’t advertise it as more. Equally, don’t tie up overtime and bonus into the basic pay. Candidates (rightly) need to know how much they will be taking home every week/month and they will notice unrealistic rates of pay and discount them accordingly. The same applies to training, if you’re training your new entrants on an unpaid basis – let them know about it upfront. Being transparent and upfront at this stage makes a big difference to how the candidate perceives your brand.


With care jobs, the more relevant candidates that see your (properly written) job adverts the more chance you have of succeeding. When we’ve outsourced recruitment programmes for Care Providers we’ve always delivered better results with a multi channel candidate attraction process. The channels include, but not limited to:

  • Job board advertising. We’re at a bit of an advantage here with over 2000 job boards plugged into the platform but the importance of full coverage can’t be underestimated. Your advert needs to be on at least 80% of the major premium job sites and as many relevant smaller/local job sites as possible. Whilst the smaller job boards aren’t likely to be major contributors, they usually do have a different audience and an amalgamated contribution from job boards that work keeps a steady pipeline of talent coming through.
  • Maintained visibility. Your presence as a trusted recruiter in your industry and area(s) needs to be continuous. You should ensure that any adverts or recruitment promotions you release should have continuous visibility. How you do this will depend on the products available at your disposal. But as an example we would also use Featured Adverts, Premium Adverts, 7-Day Auto refreshes and Sponsored campaigns.
  • Attracting the candidates that you’ve lost. You’re probably aware that on certain job boards, with direct employer adverts, over 70% of candidates who click ‘apply’ don’t end up completing their application. Think about this. For the most part, this is candidates who have searched for a care job in their area, found your advert and reviewed the basics of your offering (job title, location, rate of pay and the first 100 words of your advert). They’ve then clicked into view your advert in its entirety, read the content of it and pressed the apply button. They’ve then for one reason or another, not applied! Think about how frustrating it was just to read about it, now imagine it happening to you in real life every month – hundreds or even thousands of times over. To rectify this you’ll need to think about (or preferrably implement) a regimented program of web service automation, retargeting, a-b testing, heatmap analysis and CRO implementation of the apply pages. This may all sound like a bit much just to advertise vacancies, but successfully rectifying the above once could mean hundreds of additional applications and hires for FREE.
  • Recruiting from the passive market. Ok, so you’ve mastered the job board market to a much improved level but the number of requirements you have are ever growing. How to you develop further growth? You may well need to consider the passive market, candidates who may open to your opportunity and a new career within your organisation but aren’t actively searching for recruitment adverts. These candidates can be found through CV databases, Social Media, outdoor advertising, Local/National Press and Display advertising.

Employer Brand

It’s clear that the Care Industry isn’t a ‘tell me why I should consider your application’ type industry. Recruiting successfully means competing with the other care companies in your area and competing with market conditions. Candidates will always, at some point during the application process, want to know about the company they are considering working for. They will want to know what you stand for and what your reputation is in the market.

The first part of this process is looking at how you’re promoting your own employer brand. What information is their readily available about you, the employer. Does your website have a dedicated careers page? Does it do more than just list the latest vacancies? Do your social channels readily update the word about what makes you a good employer? Are your employees engaged with your brand? Are employees and ex-employees talking about you online? Are your client’s talking about you online? Having a strong employee reputation management program is not only crucial for improving hiring but without one, you could be impacting top line performance. Have you consulted an employer brand specialist such as Employerly

If a potential candidate or client looks up your brand with a simple google search, what do they see? If the first thing they see is negative feedback from 4 or 5 ex employees, how does that reflect on your brand? Do they know that you actually have 1500 happy employees? Can they see input from these employees? Do they know you’ve won a number of awards in your industry? Could you have won a number of awards? Can they see your direct approach to online criticism? If they could, would the perception of your brand be different?

Application Management

The next part of the recruitment process is how the applications you have worked so hard to attract are managed.

“Applications are vanity, successful hires are sanity.” –

How you deal with applications from this point has a significant impact on:

  • How many hires successfully come into the business
  • The first impression successful candidates and unsuccessful candidates have about your brand
  • How many hires you lose to your competition

In our experience, the first thing to be aware of is speed and convenience are key metrics for success in the Care Sector.

Speed & Convenience

Deal with your applications as soon as they come through. In the care market, it is very unlikely that your applicant is just applying for your job. More likely, they are applying for 10+ jobs. If you’re not first the reach out to them somebody else will be. Establishing clear lines of communication and a clear schedule of next steps is also very important at this point.

You should automate certain elements of this process, but not all. An auto-reply email and text message are very useful, particularly for applications that come through when you’re not there. If you can’t reach the candidates on the first call attempt, try again following up with a clear voicemail, email and text message. This voicemail is the first real impression candidates have of the people behind the employer. The tone and detail in the message should be such that the candidate is encouraged to follow their application up further. If you have a USP in your vacancy, remember to mention it in the correspondence to jog your applicants’ memory as to why they applied in the first place. Again, at this point confirm when you will contact again, almost pencilling in a time for them to make themselves available. I would advise not to assume that candidates don’t have a good reason for not calling you back. Perhaps they don’t have enough mobile phone credit to call your 08 number back.

This one may not be a popular suggestion, but, if most of your applications come through between 7-9pm, should somebody be available to deal with them? I can also guarantee that if this step is implemented you will see a spike in performance – we can vouch for this from significant experience. As you progress your candidate through the application funnel, don’t complicate the process unnecessarily until you have to. Application forms and ID requirements should be left until their first face to face interaction. We also recommend you avoid automated CV screening, automated telephone/video interviews and any candidate engagement that happens through a mobile app. All of which are probably three of the most disastrous additions to a recruitment process imaginable.

You should have a systematic process in place for reminders, check-ins and feedback at all points of the funnel. A lot of this can be automated but the automation will likely require an element of human assistance for monitoring.

All of these best practices (and lots more I’ve not covered) enable you to have control over your recruitment process. If you have visibility and control over your ongoing recruitment performance you are much better placed for forecasting, spotting humps in the road and maintaining a uniform and professional process for all candidates and future colleagues.

When you have a regimented process in place you will start to spot reasons for the drop-off, these reasons should be recorded, monitored and when necessary investigated. This knowledge can then be shared with whoever is managing your attraction process to reduce the likelihood of future drop-offs.

Both successful and unsuccessful candidate can be invited to engage in your feedback program (as part of the earlier reputation management initiative). This is a vital (and simple) way of identifying why things aren’t going exactly as you’d like them to be. The data is reliable and often easy to analyse and rectify. This process, we’d recommend, should be continuously ongoing.

Finally, there is ‘how best to deal with the candidates who you can’t reach’. In our experience, this should be a balance of exhausting the enquiry completely and then not repeating the process again for future applications. Exhausting the lead completely will include, telephone calls, voicemail, SMS, email automation, retargeting, direct communication and formalised invitation programming. If at this point the enquiry is completely unresponsive, it is safe to say they are no longer interested in working for your organisation and can be removed from your applicant tracking system.

Recruitment is about people and adapting to the people you want to work for your organisation. The initiatives in this document may sound complicated and extensive but they are almost always worthwhile and if implemented with guidance can be utilised (and improved) for years to come. If we can help at all don’t hesitate to drop us a line.


A few of the great companies we work with...

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What our clients say about us

I have worked with That Recruit for the last four months to find suitable candidates for Abacare, our award winning care business. That Recruit recognise the need for our business to attract quality candidates to care for our service users in the comfort of their own home. I have found them to be helpful and reactive to our business needs and look forward to our continued working relationship.

Peter Abacare, Abacare
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What our clients say about us

Quantity of applicant received was tremendous. Required a lot of sifting but evident that the advert reached a broad spectrum of candidates.

Jonathan, UberRaum Architects
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What our clients say about us

We are happy with the service and quality of applicants.

Collette, Labrums Solicitor
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What our clients say about us

We usually use recruitment agencies, however for this particular vacancy it seemed more appropriate to try a cheaper recruitment option. In setting up the initial advert it was very easy and quick, and the staff at ThatRecruit were very helpful and efficient in coming back to me and in authorizing the advert. The software to manage the vacancy was easy to use and the ability to mark candidates with a status was helpful. As an improvement it would be useful to be able to select all those marked as rejected and be able to bulk message them with a decline message or have an option to allow the candidates to see their status. Overall it’s been easy to manage this recruitment placement through ThatRecruit and we had an exceptional response to the advertisement with 72 applicants and having to close the advert early.

Luan Mahoney, Chadney Bulgin
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What our clients say about us

The process was easy to manage and we received a high number of responses.

Stephen, Cherwell College Oxford
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What our clients say about us

Thanks again for your fantastic service don’t change anything it works great!

Max, Climate Group
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