Eight best practices for recruiting nurses

5 nurses in conversation at hospital

The UK is chronically short of nurses. As of June 2022, 11.8% of nursing positions were unfilled, and there were a total of 45,000 open nursing positions within NHS England.

Many nurses are approaching retirement age, there aren’t enough nursing graduates, and we’re facing increased healthcare demand due to the pandemic backlog and an ageing population.

Finding nurses to fill those open roles is a challenging task.

Part of the problem is low pay. Research shows that the salary of an experienced nurse has, based on a five-day week, fallen by 20% in real terms since 2010.

And as if that wasn’t enough, nurses are striking in the biggest walkout in NHS history. They’re demanding better pay and improved patient safety.

It’s never been tougher to recruit nurses.

But we’re here to tell you that there are strategies you can put in place to make your organisation and your open roles more attractive to qualified nurses.

Let’s take a look.

Eight best practices for recruiting nurses

1. Advertise job listings in the right places

There currently aren’t enough nurses to go around. So you need to make sure that as many people as possible see your job advertisements. There are lots of places where you can advertise nurse vacancies. So don’t limit yourself to just one or two.

Instead, place your job ads in nursing outlets like medical journals, continuing education programs, and specialised medical recruitment boards, and generalist job boards.

And don’t forget about the importance of social media. You’ll reach an even bigger audience by encouraging followers to share your job ads.

2. Highlight the positives

Nursing can be a rewarding profession. There are a wide variety of roles available and lots of different specialities. It’s a job where no two days are the same.

A recent survey conducted by NHS England revealed that 8 in 10 people say nurses have made a positive impact on their lives. So nurses can be confident that they’re making a real difference to the patients they care for.

Unfortunately, there’s lots of bad press right now, and nursing isn’t being painted as a desirable career. Glossing over the genuine issues facing the industry would seem disingenuous.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t highlight the positives associated with the profession, using your job ads to remind people of what makes nursing so great. 

3. Emphasise career advancement

Show prospective candidates that you’re willing to invest in their futures by emphasising career advancement opportunities during recruitment.

Tell them about the various career paths that can stem from each role and what training or support you’ll provide to help them get there.

This is particularly important for younger generations. According to Deloitte’s 2022 survey, Millennial and Generation Z employees (born between 1983 and 2003) consider learning and development opportunities to be the second most important factor when choosing a job.  

4. Get compensation right

Nursing may be rewarding, but without proper compensation, it’s simply not a viable job option. You need to ensure that your open vacancies come with a salary that promises to pay the bills.

Include a fair and decent salary (or at least a narrow salary range) in your job advertisements. Salary transparency helps you to stand out from competitors and encourages candidates to apply for your position.

You should also consider other benefits that provide real value to nursing employees. For example, you could consider offering tuition reimbursement or loan repayment.

5. Incorporate flexibility and work-life balance

Nursing is hard and can often lead to burnout. Research shows that, in 2021, 40.5% of nurses said they often or always felt burnt out at work. And 34% were considering quitting their jobs as a result.

It’s a vicious cycle. Healthcare settings are understaffed, putting existing nurses under additional pressure. And it makes the profession less desirable to candidates who could help reduce the workload. 

Thankfully there are things you can do to support the well-being and work-life balance of your nursing employees even when you don’t have enough hands on deck. 

You can offer flexible schedules, giving nurses the necessary time away from work to recharge and to fulfil caring responsibilities. And introduce a little more predictability to schedules so that nurses can arrange their home lives more effectively.

Staff well-being should also be a priority. Consider offering counselling for job-related stress, and provide health and wellness benefits that support nursing staff self-care.

Be clear about your ethos around flexibility and well-being in your job ads, and you’ll attract more candidates to apply for a role.

6. Involve your current nursing staff

Nobody knows the nursing profession like your current nursing staff. They can provide inspiration for your job descriptions and job advertisements and act as a resource for prospective employees.

Ask them what benefits they’d most like to receive now and what would have been valuable during the earlier stages of their career. Then incorporate any viable ideas into your job listings and offers.

Try to involve nurses in each stage of the recruitment process — from job ads to interviews.

Current nurses can tell candidates about working days, the culture at your organisation, and their own experience of the job. You could even consider creating nurse ambassadors who candidates can reach out to with their questions. 

Just be mindful of asking nurses to add more responsibilities to their already busy days and find ways to work with them without taking up too much of their time.

7. Expand your talent pool

The wider you cast your net, the more applications you’re likely to get. So try to widen and diversify your talent pool. That means looking to under-represented groups who may not have considered a career in nursing.

Getting more men into nursing could really help with the staffing crisis. Nursing is still one of the most gender-segregated jobs in the country, with just 11% of registered nurses identifying as male.

As well as ensuring your job ads appeal to male-identifying nurses, you should also build relationships with nursing programmes. This puts your employer brand in front of nursing students while they’re still studying and welcomes a huge group of new nurses into your talent pool.

You can also look overseas. The UK government is currently encouraging international nurse recruitment. But you should tread carefully to prevent exploiting nurses coming from abroad.

8. Use the latest tech

There’s only so much you can do with manual recruitment processes. Recruitment automation and technology are key when trying to fill tricky roles. They can save you time and help you find hard-to-reach candidates. 

For example, crooton uses a technology called employer fencing. This tech allows you to target your job ads based on a prospective candidate’s location. This could include:

  • Their place of work
  • Any academic institutions they’ve attended
  • Any medical events or conferences they have attended

Targeting like this allows you to put your ads in front of interested, qualified candidates, improving the quality and quantity of your applications.

Call on crooton for expert recruitment support

We hope you can incorporate these nursing recruitment best practices into your process to fill roles more quickly and effectively.

If you’d like more insight into healthcare recruitment, take a look at the crooton blog. Or dive straight in with one of these posts:

And if you want help recruiting nurses in 2023, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Get in touch to find out about our fixed-price recruitment fees and cutting edge recruitment technology. We’re confident that we can find the nursing staff you need.