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Healthcare recruitment best practices: attraction to onboarding

Tags: Candidate Experience, Onboarding, Recruitment Process

Health and social care is consistently one of the hardest sectors to recruit into. You’re battling some ludicrously hard challenges in healthcare, and yet you still turn up each day (mostly with a smile) and keep slogging.

It’s almost impossible to find time to take a step back. But you know the old saying – one step back is how you take two steps forward. 

In that spirit, steal five minutes and read this, to see whether you’re missing any easy wins that could improve your recruitment process. 

Unravelling the healthcare recruitment process

ATTRACTION: Captivate applicants with your jobs 

Deep skills shortages are one of healthcare’s biggest challenges: 

Even where recruiters are doing everything right, talent attraction can be a huge battle. 

Fewer people coming into the recruitment funnel means a smaller pool to choose from. And ultimately, a rock and a hard place: either unfilled roles or filled roles with lower quality hires than you’d like. It’s bad for everyone.

We spoke to experts in this space to get their insights into boosting candidate attraction in health and social care. Here’s what they said:

  • Engage with your local community. Lots of people who might have a brilliant healthcare career don’t realise they’d be suitable. Reaching those people earlier by engaging with your local schools, colleges, and courses can help you attract more people into the sector.   
  • Embrace social media. A career in care appeals to all sorts of people. And at the same time, there are lots of misconceptions about the qualifications you need to work in care. Social media can be a fantastic tool to address both of these, helping inspire more people and lower mental barriers to entry.
  • Think outside the box. Many future care workers aren’t care workers today. So you won’t always find them on Skills for Care or Social Care Jobs and such. Look for wider ways to reach candidates, like recruitment marketing, out-of-home advertising or referral schemes.
  • Work on your EVP. Healthcare jobseekers are inundated with choice, so it’s crucial to stand out with a strong employee value proposition. Authenticity is the keyword, which takes sincere engagement with your workforce. Prioritise this strategic initiative: it’ll pay back dividends for years to come. 
  • Recruit for values. People work in care because they care. Showcase the amazing work you do, to inspire people and give them a taste of a career with you. That’s where rich job adverts can be invaluable, as well as a thoughtful careers site.


APPLICATION: Get candidates over the finish line 

When you’ve done all the hard work to attract great candidates for your jobs, the last thing you want is incomplete applications. But so often, that’s exactly what happens. Especially if you use NHS Jobs or Trac.

Clunky, slow, frustrating application process is a big problem for many healthcare organisations. The fun stuff like employer branding and recruitment marketing is all well and good – but if you’re losing candidates before they even become candidates, you’re making talent shortages worse.

To keep candidates engaged and increase your completed applications, invest time in building a candidate experience that cares

Candidates should be able to:

  • Drag-and-drop apply to a role with a simple CV
  • Apply easily from mobile, tablet or desktop
  • Complete an application that’s relevant to the role they’re applying for
  • Upload documents and images easily to support pre-employment checks
  • Review and sign contracts online
  • Provide references easily, once
  • Track their application progress 
  • Complete relevant assessments easily
  • Get relevant job alerts to their phone or inbox 
  • Complete an application whatever their accessibility needs
  • Add and be consistently named by their chosen pronouns


ASSESSMENT: Understand who’s a great fit  

The main purpose of recruitment is to hire great people. Are you confident that your assessment and screening processes reliably fuel great hiring decisions?

Some things to think about:

  • Including the right assessment questions. Candidate assessments have come on leaps and bounds over recent years, and can make a heap of sense for recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates. Think beyond basic functional and compliance questions. Could you include some short scenario questions, for instance, to better understand job suitability?
  • Banishing unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is still happening. Our Stop the Bias report 2024 found that not only does bias exist, but it’s something candidates are worried about too, from anything to age and personal appearance, to mental health and parenthood. It’s not just unfair – it also gets in the way of attracting and hiring the best people. For example, maybe your team unconsciously prioritises university education when that’s not necessary for many care roles. Do you have the right training and tech, to ensure your recruitment process is fair and inclusive? 
  • Making managers’ lives easier. For many healthcare organisations, recruitment is devolved to a complex web of managers. This makes good sense because managers know their team and needs best. But managers are busy enough and aren’t experts at recruitment. How do you make their lives easier – and safer? 
  • Including video interviews. Video interviewing can accelerate the interview process by 90% and slash scheduling admin. All while giving you a better, richer, deeper view on your candidates, earlier in the process. Plus, video interviews can be brilliant for diversity. Could you weave video interviews into your process, if you don’t already? 
  • Upping the reporting ante. Recruitment reporting is crucial to understand what you’re doing well and where you could improve. Reporting can give you confidence in, and evidence for, your hiring decisions. Or can act as an early warning system if something in your process needs attention. Does your reporting help you prove recruitment’s value? 


ONBOARDING: Set your new hires up for a flying start  

Brilliant news! You like them; they like you – what could go wrong? 

A lot, unfortunately. No-shows and post-hire drop-outs are a common issue across healthcare, and poor onboarding processes are often to blame.

We know your hands are tied with lengthy checks and balances. But there’s still plenty that’s in your control.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do compliance and reference checks happen as fast as possible? Or do they drag along for weeks because you have to manually collect and process info?

Read how HCRG Care Group accelerated compliance checks by 62%. 

  • Do candidates get everything they need to start, every time? Or do they get what a hiring manager remembers to send them?
  • Do you pre-empt candidate questions with useful documents, FAQs, and introductions? Or do you leave them to worry and second-guess?
  • Do candidates get a branded, accurate contract, more or less instantly after they accept the job? Or does it take you days to manually edit and send?
  • Do candidates engage with onboarding processes through a simple self-service portal? Or do they have to keep track of loads of separate requests?
  • Do candidates experience onboarding tailored to their role? Or is onboarding generic, whether you’re hiring a surgeon or a care worker?

There are few things more frustrating than doing everything right through the recruitment process, only to lose great people right before they start. Or just after they’ve started, disrupting teams and patient care. Better onboarding is a critical puzzle piece for healthcare recruitment that’s fast, effective and safe. 

When you recruit into a sector as difficult as healthcare, there’s no room for unnecessary manual processes, avoidable admin, or missed marketing opportunities. Are you ticking the right boxes?

Discover three ways the right talent tech fuels better healthcare hiring. 

Tribepad is the trusted tech ally to smart(er) recruiters everywhere. Trusted by private and NHS healthcare organisations like Well Pharmacy, Bupa, Signature, British Medical Association, HCRG Care Group, Turning Point, NHS Professionals and Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, 25-million people in 16 languages use Tribepad.

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