Struggling to Recruit Care Staff? Here’s why.

Struggling to Recruit Care Staff? Here’s why.

Are you struggling to recruit care staff? There are many challenges to recruiting in care, particularly if you’re hiring in volume. Read on to find out how you can improve your hiring process. 


Recruitment strategy is vitally important across many industry sectors where there is a shortage of skills, but the healthcare sector in particular faces some of the biggest challenges today.


At occy, we’ve dedicated the last 10 years to developing recruitment solutions for businesses, and have worked closely with more than 100 healthcare organisations in that time. So it goes without saying we’re very aware of the most common issues and challenges faced by hiring managers struggling to recruit care staff.


The good news is that once we applied our processes and solutions to these issues, we were able to make significant improvements, and resolve the lion’s share of their challenges. 


It doesn’t have to be a struggle to recruit care staff, but it is for many. Here we share some of the most impactful ways you can start today. 

Table of Contents

Common Challenges of Recruiting in Care

Some of the more common reasons hiring managers struggle to recruit care staff are listed below:

Why you may be struggling to recruit

Below are the 7 reasons why your team may be finding it challenging to recruit in care. These can make hiring care staff much harder than it needs to be.

Your adverts aren’t advertising!

We assessed over 200 healthcare job adverts posted across the 5 largest UK job boards. We measured them against essential criteria that determine if a job ad is likely to succeed, and found that 90% failed.
Most of the ads read more like job descriptions than career ads. Many failed to follow structure, and nearly all the ads used a very formal style or tone. Most of them could’ve focused more on the prospect’s potential.
People who already have a job perform 90% of job searches. These people will not apply for a job just because they can do it or are in need of one. Instead, they need to believe that the role sounds better than what they’ve already got.
It’s also important to remember to use a job title in your ads that candidates are searching for.
Below are some of the ways you can make sure you’re writing a great job ad. 
tips for writing job ad copy

Job ads were usually posted on the wrong channels

Around 75% of all online job-related searches start on Google. It was clear that most advertisers hadn’t tested the job title and location for their job ads on Google to discover which job advertising channels were most likely to get the best results. Ideally, you’d want to select the first three/four natural search results that appear.


Private care job search traffic in traditional job boards exceeds the number of people visiting NHS jobs many times over. In a survey of more than 100 applicants who had applied for a nursing role for an NHS trust, more than 70% said that they started their search on a search engine like Google, and visited several traditional job advertising channels before going into NHS jobs.


So keep in mind that even though it might be free, it’s not necessarily where the majority of online search traffic is going…


Your recruitment process is too slow 

According to research performed by Indeed involving more than 250,000 candidates, over 70% said that they were assessing the company that they’d just applied to by their experience of the company’s recruiting and interview process.
In the healthcare sector, if you take more than 48 hours to respond to a new application, there’s a 25% chance that they’re no longer available.

If you take more than one week to respond to an application, even if it’s to arrange an interview, there’s a 50% chance the candidate’s no longer interested.


This can get worse, especially for harder-to-fill roles. In many cases, we discovered that a nurse who has just uploaded their CV onto a job board to apply for a job, will have received more than 5 job-related telephone calls within the first 48 hours. So time really is of the essence.


Your recruitment strategy is all about you

Passive applicants, particularly those already in work, need nurturing to win them over. Whether that’s in your job ads or in the way you engage with them during the recruitment process, you should be building a database of interested candidates that you can approach if a vacancy arises.


If your adverts or selection process is all about filtering out unsuitable applicants, then you won’t get the candidates you need. You’ll want to entice candidates and give them something they’re not getting where they’re currently at. If it’s not a financial incentive, it could be offering them training days, mental health days, flexible shifts etc. 


You are not performing your due diligence

There are two equally important factors that you need to assess candidates against:

  1. Can they do the job?
  2. Will they fit into your organisational culture?


The tools and processes for making these assessments need to be chosen carefully and must be deployed in the right way. By not performing due diligence you will undoubtedly run the risk of recruiting people that under-perform, become disengaged, and ultimately leave.


By delivering these tasks inappropriately, you will put off some of the best candidates who will subsequently drop out of the process. High levels of attrition in the first year of employment within the healthcare sector can often be put down to poor cultural and behavioural alignment, and a bums-on-seat recruitment strategy.


Your recruitment process needs automation

If you are re-directing applications from your job adverts to a careers page or an application form, then you’ll be losing over 50% of the candidates that hit the apply button.


Getting candidates to hit the apply button is the hardest bit – so why re-direct them to a pre-screening questionnaire? If you’re doing this, then statistically you’re losing a high percentage of candidates that wanted to apply to your vacancy.

quote that redirecting applicants to a careers page loses candidates

It gets worse… research proves that the most passive (and probably the best) applicants are the most likely to drop out.


Multiple-stage interview processes can also lose great applicants. Unless the level or the complexity of the role determines it (and that usually means the salary will reflect this too), then more than one face-to-face interview places the best applicants at risk of dropping off.


Whilst certain situations might call for a second interview presentation and a meet the team type exercise; for most roles, getting the candidate to keep coming back is quite frankly unnecessary, and reflects badly on the company’s organisational ability.


Brexit has changed our ability to rely on migrant care workers

Migrants make up 17% of the entire care workforce in England. By 2035, it’s likely Britain will have over 14.5 million people aged over 65. That means to cope with such increasing numbers, Britain would need an extra 650,000 care workers. To make matters worse, Brexit led to a reduction in migrant care worker applications by 89%.
Further evidence suggested those same migrant workers are more likely to take on evening and weekend shifts and work as live-in carers. What’s more, Britain’s reliance on foreign care workers is amongst the highest in Europe.  This combined with many of the other factors mentioned above, mean the care industry faces some serious challenges in the coming years? So what can be done?


Aside from making the care industry more attractive to British nationals, which can be done not only by increasing pay, but also by emphasising the benefits of helping people, as after all most carers get into it not because of the money, but because they want to help people.
Other benefits such as good pensions, training, progression, cover for fuel/transport will always help, and importantly help to fight the high staff turnover, which in the care sector is among the highest, at close to 30%. 
Starting the process to improve your hiring can be a challenge, which is why we’ve put together The Ultimate Care Recruitment Toolkit. Check out this free toolkit – it’ll save you a lot of valuable time and resources. 
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