Most agencies today can’t grow because they can’t fill the demand for their existing shifts.
Marketing and recruitment are two sides of the same coin—and these days it’s usually easier to get clients than to get caregivers.
It’s not the time to give up on marketing just yet, but it’s time to make an intentional, scientific recruitment strategy a focus of your agency if you haven’t already done so.
I’ve watched hundreds of agencies try and tackle recruitment, and led recruitment for a multimillion dollar service business that hired from the same labor pool.
In my opinion, these are probably the three easiest mistakes to make as you’re trying to hire caregivers:
1. Focusing so much on paying competitively that you neglect being competitive in other areas
It’s true that pay is likely the factor at the top of caregivers’ minds and merits a lot of attention. Without a competitive pay scale, you’re going to struggle (even more than usual) to get qualified caregiver applicants in today’s bonkers job market.
However, focusing on pay competitiveness comes with a huge danger. I’ve seen too many home care agency owners raise their wages, get a few more applicants, feel good about their pay, and move on too quickly to other parts of the business because they feel like they’ve checked the box on being competitive.
Don’t do this. There are several other factors that are make-it-or-break-it for a caregiver’s experience. In addition to getting pay right, take time to ensure that the following are competitive advantages for your agency’s hiring:
- Hours and scheduling for caregivers
- Supervisors/care coordinators/managers that your caregivers will love
- Client/caregiver matching
- Opportunities to skill up
- Ensuring that they feel personally known and valued
- Ensuring that they feel ready and prepared for their first shift with a new client
2. Having a sluggish or unnecessarily complicated hiring process
When I worked at Home Care Pulse, one of my assignments was to manage the production of the annual Home Care Benchmarking Study (now HCP Benchmark Report) for a few years. One of the statistics we gathered that has stuck with me is that the top reason caregivers chose to work for a given agency was because it’s the first one that offered them a job.
When hiring is hyper-competitive, this makes it clear that one of the most important things you can do is simply move qualified caregivers through the process as rapidly as possible. Here are a few ways I’d suggest doing so:
- Figure out what you have to do to be able to prioritize contacting every qualified applicant within 24 hours on a weekday or 72 hours on a weekend.
- Use an Applicant Tracking System to consolidate your communication and information about candidates. I’mnot just saying this because I’m publishing a blog on their website, but I’ve heard exceptional things about Hireology and recommend looking into their system.
- Use the type of communication that the candidate prefers. We’ll go into this a little more in Part 3 of this article.
- Don’t wait for reference checks before moving forward; conduct the reference checks on the side and move forward in good faith.
- Schedule a paid orientation with them in the same conversation as they accept an offer (generally the same conversation as the offer is given). This gives them a concrete milestone to anticipate and helps reduce no-show rates on the first day.
3. Not meeting candidates where they’re at
This takes several forms. It can refer to communication, where/how you’re advertising, and how you communicate the value of working with you, among other things.
More than anything, it entails taking the time to truly understand the people you’re trying to convince to work for you and letting those insights, rather than your own wants and judgments, inform the ways you communicate with them.
- Learn how your applicants prefer to communicate and lean into these methods. Typically, this is going to mean using texting more than calling. You should also plan to use texts to confirm with candidates before job interviews if you aren’t already.
- Learn where your target applicants are spending their time online and find ways to build relationships with them there. (Perhaps the best example I’ve heard of: a friend of mine runs a skilled nursing facility in Texas. He discovered that many of the nurses in the area follow a Nursing Humor account on Instagram that’s run by someone who’s also based locally. He’s looking into acquiring the nursing humor account (including the person running it). This will allow him to periodically use the account to issue calls for applicants at his SNF while engaging with them in a way that they’ve already shown they value.)
- Ensure that the timing and location of interviews is convenient for applicants. I know of a highly successful agency in Michigan whose recruiter meets applicants for interviews at their homes or other neutral locations close to the applicants’ homes to make it convenient for them; this has worked wonders for their show-up rates. This may not be feasible for every agency, but it’s a good example of the type of thinking that will give you a leg up in hiring.
Don’t get burned out
In closing, avoid mental burnout on recruitment at all costs.
It’s easier said than done, but with the challenges of recruitment in home care today, it’s too easy to fall into a discouraged spiral where lack of results drives frustration, which drives less effort and in turn less results.
Keep trying. Keep pushing. You can make recruitment your competitive advantage.
Here’s to your success.
I hope this was helpful. By the way, I work for Careswitch, a new home care agency management software designed for staff to learn in minutes rather than days. It has all the tools you’d expect (scheduling, care documentation, caregiver app, team chat, etc.) in a super easy-to-use format, but it also has extras like built-in payroll processing. The agency management software is free—we make our money if you choose to upgrade to the payroll processing, which has a monthly fee. You can learn more and get started for free in five minutes here.
About the author: Connor Kunz is VP of Growth at Careswitch, the first free home care agency management software. Before working at Careswitch, Connor led marketing and agency education at Home Care Pulse, including founding the Home Care Growth Summit and being the project lead for the annual Home Care Benchmarking Study. When he’s not working, Connor enjoys hiking with his wife, eating shredded cheese out of the bag, and watching TV while his cat judges him from across the room.