As you probably know one of the hardest things about recruiting care staff is getting them interested. It is an incredibly competitive market and care staff really do have their pick of jobs. It’s important to stand out as not only a great Care provider but a great place to work. This can be done by making sure you engage applicants, follow a clear recruitment journey and showing why your home is a great place to work.
Showing potential residents and their families round your home is part of selling every aspect of the Care home, the décor, the staff, the food, the service. It is great to mirror this when you show round potential staff. This helps them become invested and increases not only chances of them taking a role but also staying in the role.
Remember yours might not be the only role they are applying for so making them feel welcome and that your home is the right place for them is key.
Best practice is to make the recruitment process as clear, timely and positive as possible. Hopefully whether they are successful or not they should leave with a positive impression of the organisation and be willing to recommend you to colleagues and friends.
As soon as you know you need staff, get the word out as quickly as possible to help fill your vacancies. Advertising can sometimes be costly and time consuming so here are some quick, cheap and easy ways to promote jobs for your service:
It may seem obvious, but it is often the easiest thing to get wrong. It should be a balance of informing potential employees what you are looking for and letting them know what benefits you can offer them. Tell them if your home is small and cosy or large and modern. Is it a fast-paced exciting home where no 2 days are the same? Is it small and intimate where you get to really know the residents? The good points you make to potential residents when you are promoting the home are exactly what potential applicants need to hear too. If you are struggling with writing adverts contact our Proud to Care Team who will be happy to help you firstname.lastname@example.org
Local job centres
Local Job Centres are a great FREE way to promote jobs. You can advertise roles on “Find a job” (a job search page used and promoted by Job Centres) Job Centre advisers can promote your roles and you can often book tables in the Job Centres to promote jobs too. Jobs Centres regularly run job fairs in their centres which are free to attend.
You can find out more by visiting Job Centre Plus. Or pop into your local Job Centre and have a chat with one of the advisers.
You can advertise by popping an advert in the window of your care home if it can be seen by people walking by. If not, try your local newsagent who will often let you put up an ad in the window for a small fee.
Websites such as Friday ad, Gumtree and indeed allow you to put basic online ads on for free!
If you have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts for your service make sure you use these platforms to promote vacancies. Encourage people to like and share to reach a wider audience.
Refer a friend scheme
One in five people are in jobs they heard about from a friend or family member. Speak to your staff to see if they know anyone or ask them to post on their social media. You can even offer incentives that if someone they recommend is successful and passes probation, they get a bonus or time off.
Many supermarkets have community notice boards as well as community centres or churches, use these to place ads. Even ask if they have a local newsletter or online presence they can use. The more people you can reach the better. Even mention it to resident’s friends and families when they visit. Don’t forget to contact local College’s offering Health and Social Care Courses and keep an eye out for local job fairs.
Gone but not forgotten
Ever had a member of staff you were sad to see go? Get in touch with them. 30% of leavers return within 6 months of being contacted. Also, go through applications from previous adverts you have placed. People’s situations often change.
Offer work trials
If people have not worked in Care before, the idea can be quite daunting. By offering candidates a chance to work a trial shift it gives them a chance to see what the job is really about. It also gives you a chance to see what they are like in a work environment rather than a nervous interview.
Keep them informed
It’s important to keep candidates informed. Not just about the job, but the recruitment process and time frames. We have included some handouts in this pack which can be very handy especially if you are at job fairs or events talking about working in Care.
Remember the elements
Keep in mind, with your adverts, who you are targeting. If you are looking for students, why not mention in your advert shift flexibility to fit around college or university. Depending on the season you could include earning money for summer holidays or Christmas. Can you offer term time hours or shifts to fit round the school run? These little things can help reach out to your target audience.
Fancy a coffee?
Host a coffee morning, you can tie this in with charities and raise money with events such as Macmillan Coffee Morning or host a cake sale with donations going to a local charity. You can set this up in your care home or even hire a community hall for a reasonable price. If the community hall knows it is for charity you can often get reduced rates. Put together application packs and information about the job roles for people to take away with them. Invite your existing staff so they can chat to people about the job.
Leafletting can be a cost effect way to get your name out there. Leaflets can be produced in house. The important part is to look at your target audiences and where to approach them. A Sunday morning car boot or get a school to put leaflets in book bags, school fetes, park runs any local event where there will be people!
Trial and error
It’s important to remember that every service is different and so is every community. It may be a case of trying different approaches or combinations to see what works best for you.
You should have a clear pathway for your recruitment process. This ensures you are meeting the expectations of your organisation and the candidate. One of the biggest complaints from candidates is not hearing back from applications. While it may seem time consuming this is vital. If you do not reply to an application because they are not suitable, when they see you advertise again in a years’ time when they have more experience or gained a qualification they may not apply because last time they didn’t hear back from you.
It is important to give candidates a good experience when they apply for a job as it ensures they would be happy to apply again in the future and have a good opinion of your service.
It should take no longer than 20 days from receiving a CV or application to making an offer. I know in the real world it is not always that easy but remember to keep your candidates informed. Even if on day 7 you email to say you are going to offer an interview, but you are waiting to find time to schedule it in. If you haven’t been able to decide because you have been short staffed, give them a call to tell them informed. Keeping them informed shows you have good communication skills and that you are interested in them for the role.
Once you have your applications/CVs in it is time to select who you would like to interview. You may want to look for experience and qualifications but also remember to consider the values and attitudes of the candidates. It is easier to teach someone how to do the day to day tasks than it is to teach them how to be a caring person.
Try and get a good selection of people but make sure you look out for red flags.
Below are some red flags that you should look for when reviewing applications. Quite often there are simple explanations for these which can easily be explained with a pre interview phone call:
Gaps on a CV with no explanation
Most of the time these are easily explained, but if there is a long gap (3 months plus) without an explanation it would be a good idea to ask the candidate.
Attention to detail
While it is easy to make 1 or 2 mistakes, more than this could be an issue, especially when writing up care plans or medicines. A CV/Application should be a candidate putting their best foot forward. A poorly done CV could suggest laziness or a lack of investment in getting a job.
Where is their career going/Overqualified?
Is this a career change? Are they continuing their career? Or is this their first proper job? If a candidate’s career has taken a sudden change, find out more. It could be they are ready for a change or they could see a job in care as a stop gap. Likewise, if they have had a lot of jobs for short periods of time is this job going to be another one on the list. This is very important for retention to discuss these things with candidates. Keep in mind how long you want an employee to be with you for when reviewing CVs.
What are they applying for?
Often people have a generic CV they use to apply for jobs and if their background and experience is in care then that makes sense. If, however, they are looking for a career change, have they tailored their CV to reflect this? Have they shown transferable skills or shown their values in their personal statement that would make them suitable for a job in care? This will help you decipher if they have a genuine interest in the job or just applying for the sake of it.
Not following instruction
If you have asked them for specific information in your advert, such as: Do you have training? When are you available to start? Why are you interested in this role? And they have not responded this could be due to lack of attention or lack of interest.
These red flags do not mean you should not consider the candidate just proceed with caution. Maybe have a quick chat on the phone first to get a better read on them before investing time in a face to face interview.
Interviews should always be a two-way conversation. It is about whether the person you are interviewing is the right candidate for you and whether your service is the right place for them to work.
If you have some candidates that have applied who you are unsure of, rather than booking them in for an interview straight away (which can be time consuming) call them for a chat about their application. You can ask a few questions on the phone and get an idea of whether they would be a suitable candidate to progress to the next stage.
Prepare the candidate
Information is key. When you invite somebody for an interview let them know how long you expect them to be there. Do you want them to shadow someone for half an hour before a sit-down interview? Do you want to show them round the home? Who is the interview going to be with?
This helps the candidate be as prepared as possible and able to put themselves across in the best possible way.
Try and give yourself 10 minutes before the interview and 15 minutes after to give you an opportunity to review the application/CV of the candidate before the interview and review the candidate’s answers afterwards.
Interviews are best conducted with 2 members of staff. If you have a small admin team, ask a senior member of care staff to join you. They will be able to get a good idea on whether someone would be a good fit for the role.
Make a list of questions you want to ask and leave space to make notes. These can be helpful to refer to especially if you are interviewing over the course of a few days.
It is always good to have varied questions in interviews as much as it is important to know what experience and qualifications somebody has. It is equally important they have the right values for your service.
One of the ways to do this is Value based recruitment.
Value Based Recruitment is making sure someone has the right qualities to be a carer within your service. While experience and qualifications are great it doesn’t always give you a sense of who a person is and what their values are.
Value based recruitment covers the following key areas:
Dignity and Respect, Learning and Reflection, Working Together, and Commitment to Quality Care and Support
Dignity and respect
- Treat people with dignity and respect regardless of their culture, religion, age, race, sexual orientation, or disability
- Accept and respect people’s individuality
- Take time to listen to people, protect and respect people’s confidential personal information
Learning and reflection
- Commit to learning and developing themselves in their work and reflect on the work that they do, how they do it and the impact they have on those being supported
- Are honest and transparent and not afraid to say when they have done something wrong
- Are open to learning from others and willing to share knowledge and best practice
- Understand that you can achieve improved outcomes through people working together
- Putting service users first by working as a team with the residents, their family, carers, and other professionals.
- Contributing to the service’s values and best practice
Commitment to quality care and support
- Able to deliver high quality of services and aim to get the basics right all of the time
- Take responsibility and communicate
- People’s feedback is welcome to help us learn from our mistakes and build on our success
You may also have values specific to your service which you would like to include. Value based recruitment is being used across the Care Sector including the NHS and has been shown to increase retention, improve quality of service and reduce staff absence.
For more information on values-based recruitment see:
Skills for Care – Values-based recruitment and retention
Alternatively see the Proud to Care Guide to Value Based Recruitment
Below are some example interview questions both standard and value based you can use in interviews:
- What three things do you need to be a good Care Assistant?
- What most appeals to you about this role?
- How do you deal with job-related stress?
- Why are you looking to leave your current role?
- What made you want to apply for this job?
Dignity and respect:
- What would you do if you saw a colleague treating a resident badly?
- How do you maintain client dignity and respect when delivering personal care?
- Can you tell us a time when you listened carefully to someone? (Follow up – what difference did it make to them, to you?)
- Please give an example of how you have worked with people to identify options and choices?
Learning and reflection:
- Describe a situation where you made a mistake. What happened? What would you do differently another time?
- Tell me about a time you learned a new skill. How did you approach it and how to did you apply your new learnings?
- Could you give an example where you have learned from feedback?
- What would you do if you had to work with a person you didn’t get along with?
- Describe a situation where it was important that you worked as part of a team
- Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a coworker complete a task. How did you assist him or her?
Commitment to quality care and support:
- Describe a time you managed someone making a complaint. How did you manage to address their complaint?
- Could you give me an example of a time when you have helped people who have required support or assistance?
Do you have any questions?
It is always good to give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions and remember it is about you selling the job to them as much as it is them selling themselves to you!
Try and give them a time frame they will hear by and make sure it is realistic. You want to offer candidates a good experience so they think well of the home and your recruitment process.
Letting them down gently
The general rule is good news by phone, bad news by email or letter. It is important if you are rejecting an application to do so politely and professionally. An example:
Thank you for taking the time to apply for the Care Assistant role at (Name of Home). We received a number of applications and unfortunately on this occasion you were unsuccessful.
Thank you again for your time.
Sometimes the candidate may ask you for feedback. Always try to be constructive and offer something they can work on. If, of course, they simply were not right for the role you can advise that someone better suited was chosen on this occasion.
Make sure you acknowledge every applicant who has been in for an interview by phone, email, or letter. They have taken the time to come and see you and show their interest in the role and you want to leave them with a good impression of your service.
Making an offer
Normally a candidate will accept an offer as soon as it is made or within a few days. Once they have accepted get them in to see you with any ID/DBS documents you need to see. This will give you a chance to see them before they start, and it will also ease their nerves about coming in for their first day.
As we all know, references and DBS can take their time. With references you can be proactive. Remember you can always ask the candidate to chase these up with their previous employer.
It is important to maintain contact. Even just a weekly email to check in, let the candidate know you are still waiting and more importantly the job is still there waiting for them. It can be a scary time changing jobs and being left in limbo not knowing what is going on. This is an opportunity to build rapport with your new employee and keep them engaged.