How to Keep Hiring Caregivers While Applications Are Down

While applications are down for many agencies, there are still candidates applying. The trick is getting your job postings to stand out. Here’s how to do it. 

Across the country, many agency owners are reporting that applications are down. Unemployment benefits, a renewed spike in cases, and future uncertainty have combined to make this a particularly tough time to recruit home care workers.

To help out, we’ve talked to agency owners and industry experts around the country to see what’s working and what’s not.

We’ve combined our key takeaways into this article; we’ll be focusing heavily on how to optimize your job postings to attract more of the existing applicants, but we’ll also delve into a few out-of-the-box approaches to hiring caregivers.

While approaches may vary a little depending on the job site, these principles are generally true for all of them.

Let’s get started.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Optimizing Job Postings

Don’t give up on traditional job posting sites like Indeed and myCNAjobs, even in times like now when the hiring world is off-balance. These sites are the bread and butter of the home care industry’s recruitment, and there are still applicants going to these sites even if there are fewer than usual in some areas.

The trick is getting them to stand out.

A job posting is the top of your recruitment funnel; thus, any change in the number of applicants who click on your posting headline is likely to be reflected in the rest of your funnel.

(20% more people clicking on your headlines will usually result in 20% more applicants, 20% more interviews, etc.)

However, most job seekers scan job descriptions for only a split second each and make a snap decision about whether to open it based on what they read.

If you can simply get more people to click on your job headlines, you can drastically increase (or decrease) the number of applicants you get in a single step.

Want proof? Ziprecruiter did some research on how alternate job titles for the same position affect clicks, and the results are tough to refute.

For administrative positions, for instance, they found that postings titled “Receptionist/Administrative Assistant” received an average of 122 applications per posting, while postings that said only “Administrative Assistant” or “Receptionist” received an average of 57 and 90 applications respectively.

Those might sound like high numbers of applications, but the principle holds. It’s likely that there are similar differences in the performance of different caregiving job titles; the right variant that sounds different, appeals to more people, or grabs more attention might get drastically more applicants.

Why You Need to be Testing Job Headlines

If people scan job headlines for a split second and make a snap decision about which ones to look at, your headline matters a lot.

We don’t know yet which variants will win, but you can easily test variants until you find what wins in your area.

Our advice is to take advantage of free job postings to create multiple versions of the same posting but with different headlines, and test them against each other.

In marketing, this is known as AB testing, and it’s a staple in the process of adapting your message to resonate best with your target audience.

When marketing teams send out mass emails, they’ll nearly always test multiple subject lines with a few people to see which one gets the most people to open; then they’ll use the better-performing subject line and send the email out to everybody. Your job postings should use the same principle.

How to Test Your Job Headlines

So many caregiver applications simply say some variation of “Caregiver Needed.” Being concise is great, but is this going to help you grab eyeballs when a candidate is scrolling through a page?

You most likely need one or both of the following: a) something different or creative enough to stand out at least slightly from the other postings on the page, and/or b) something that will specifically address what the applicant is looking for in a job.

Consider running different job postings with headlines that test each of the following:

  • Variants of the job title

  • Specific pay (if the platform you’re using displays pay in the job preview from the main page, make sure you have pay listed so that it shows up!)

  • Specific shifts

  • Specific benefits offered (travel pay, flexible scheduling, hazard pay, COVID safety training, ability to start ASAP)

  • Specifics about training/experience (no experienced needed, training provided, best training in area, etc.)

  • Creative phrasing (“Awesome People Needed as Caregivers”)

  • Combos of the above

Many agencies are already doing these, and maybe you are too; however, it’s unlikely that very many agencies are truly testing them to the extent that will drive real results. Be scientific about it, keep trying different combinations, and zero in on what works.

Other Tips for Making Caregiver Job Postings More Effective

It’s interesting that despite how critical job postings are to your agency’s success, many agencies treat them as a throwaway task without putting in proper time and handling them strategically.

Here are other things to keep in mind:

Use the preview text. Most sites like Indeed pull the first few lines from the posting to serve as a preview beneath the headline. Make sure you’ve intentionally crafted text for this section that will help attract candidates’ attention rather than simply listing off bullet points from the job.

If you’re just listing bullet points about bathing and toileting, you’re wasting real estate on your job postings.

List the pay! Candidates gravitate toward the postings that answer their questions the fastest, and pay is often at the top of their list. Even if there are competitors paying more, listing your pay is usually an advantage for you because so many agencies don’t list it at all.

Ask all of your current caregivers to review you on Indeed. Having a high employee rating is another key way to stand out at a glance. While any agency that does this is likely to get a few negative reviews (no business is perfect), trust that most caregivers will give you a good rating will help your score.

(If you have legitimate reason to believe that a majority of your caregivers will give you negative reviews, you’ve got bigger problems to solve before you should be recruiting, and we specialize in helping with that.)

Use any social proof you can. If you’ve won Employer of Choice, make sure that’s featured in your job postings. It doesn’t hurt to show caregiver satisfaction scores as well—saying your caregivers rated you a 9.5 out of 10 says a lot.

Other Tips For Recruiting Caregivers In a Challenging Recruitment Environment

These are by no means new strategies, but these ideas might be particularly helpful right now. Some of them are simply best practices that will help you make the most of the applications you’re already receiving.

Use videos of your caregivers. Ask caregivers to make simple selfie-style videos (it can be filmed on a phone) talking about why they like working for your agency—and use these videos everywhere. Post them to your website. Link to them in job postings. Share them to social, and ask employees to share them to personal accounts.

Leverage partners and other community resources. People want to help people who help people. In other words, if you explain that you’re struggling to find caregivers to look after the seniors in your care, people want to help you. Consider asking partners and other community resources to post your video or job postings on their social channels, include them in their newsletters, or feature them wherever else they can.

Use texting to line up interviews and coordinate next steps. Rapid, convenient communication on what is many people’s preferred channel can work wonders.

Contact all applicants within 24 hours. According to the Home Care Benchmarking Study, most caregivers choose a job on the basis of where they can start the soonest.

A Cornerstone of Healthcare

In a year that’s already felt like ten years, who’s to say what the future holds?

What we do know is that home care providers have a reason to keep their heads up.

Home care is rapidly becoming recognized as a cornerstone of healthcare, and the pandemic gives us a chance to prove it.

It’s a tough time, but there are better days ahead.

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