Recruitment in all sectors is reaching record levels, with the Great Resignation in full swing. Nowhere is this more clearly in evidence than in healthcare. The pandemic has highlighted to many the deep debt society owes to healthcare workers. Still, it has also led to more stress and increasingly difficult working conditions for the same staff.

This is one reason for vacancies in healthcare reaching all-time highs. In October, there were 39,000 open nursing positions in England alone, with 4,845 vacant nursing posts in Scotland earlier in the year. Currently, we have a UK-wide shortfall of over 100,000 healthcare workers, and things are likely to keep getting worse.

With a massive shortage of qualified workers, growing demand, and difficult working conditions, healthcare recruiters have to pull out all the stops to attract staff. This means reflecting on your healthcare recruitment strategy and making some meaningful changes. Here are our top tips to help your healthcare recruitment stand out from the crowd.

Seven healthcare recruitment tips

1. Understand the pipeline

Effective recruitment relies on knowing where to find your candidates. Your potential new hires will come from a wide variety of possible sources, so make sure you understand all of these potential sources and what applicants from those sources might have in common.

Be alert to the possibility of recruiting trainees for some roles. Trainees may require more supervision than experienced staff, but they are also energetic and eager to gain experience. New graduates may be able to work with more autonomy but will expect higher salaries in return.

Although many healthcare professionals are leaving the industry after COVID, some see this period as a chance to return to work after time away. These candidates may have extensive experience but will often need a short adjustment period to help them get back up to speed. Don’t forget that you can also recruit medical and healthcare professionals from around the world. Recruitment technology like employer fencing allows you to do this more effectively.

Understanding your pipeline means knowing where you can go to source each of these different groups of healthcare workers. You will also need to be alert to potential instabilities or disruptions in your pipeline. Organisations that relied heavily on European-trained healthcare workers, for example, may have had to look elsewhere for staff post-Brexit. Considering risks to your pipeline in advance allows you to quickly adjust if something goes wrong.

2. Communicate differently with different generations

You already recognise that different generations communicate in vastly different ways. Grandparents may struggle with text-speak and emojis, while children can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea of writing a letter. These same preferences apply when you are thinking about how to communicate with potential hires.

Think about the groups you are trying to recruit from, and tailor your communication to match their preferences. Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, often prefer to avoid phone calls in favour of texts, social media engagement, and Zoom calls.

If you aren’t targeting your recruitment at one age range, it’s worth casting a wide net. Increasing the different ways potential hires encounter your brand can help improve your recruitment. If possible, it can be helpful to integrate your recruitment communications into your broader communication strategy.

3. Understand what your workers want

The pandemic put a spotlight on how stressful working in healthcare can be. If you’re looking to attract more talent, you need to understand what potential new hires are looking for, over and above a monthly pay check.

You already have access to the best source of information about what potential new hires will be looking for; your existing staff. Carrying out interviews with team members who are already working for you can help you to better understand the concerns other healthcare workers might be facing and what would attract them to work for you. 

Talking honestly with your existing staff can also help you to address potential problems in your workplace. This may reduce staff turnover, thereby reducing the number of vacancies you have to fill.

4. Reach out beyond your typical recruits

Difficult times lead to innovative solutions. If you’re struggling to find the recruits you want, try to think of groups you may not have considered before. This could include contacting workers who have retired early to see whether they would consider returning on a flexible schedule. It may also be helpful to reach out to schools and colleges, ensuring that school-leavers understand the wide range of healthcare roles available.

5. Take advantage of government funding

If you have roles that apprentices or trainees could potentially fill, you might be in luck. As part of the post-pandemic recovery plan, government spending on apprenticeships incentives and traineeships have both been increased. This may help you to offset the additional costs of supporting and training these workers.

6. Look at the Armed Forces

If you’re looking for well-trained, experienced workers, those with a military background may fit the bill well. Each year, over 14,000 people leave the Armed Forces, and many of these will have specific training in healthcare-related work.

Look for programmes aimed at matching qualified ex-service personnel with job vacancies, such as Step into Health. These can help you to connect with an often-overlooked community of workers.

7. Don’t work alone

Problems in one area of health and social care often have a ripple effect on other healthcare organisations in the local area. Working together with other healthcare providers, organisations, and trusts can help to minimise those adverse consequences for everyone.

Working together allows you to share best practices and gain support from other healthcare recruiters. It also offers you all the opportunity to pool resources and recruit more effectively.

These tips will help you rethink your approach to healthcare recruitment, but they’re not the end of the story. Be sure to visit crooton’s blog for more thoughts on the impact of funding increases on healthcare recruitment, how to improve your workplace culture, and advice on your recruitment marketing strategy.

And when you’re ready to put these tips into practice, speak to the crooton team and we’ll help you get started!