Ask not what the job candidate can do for you, but what you can do for the job candidate.
Job candidates exploring the direct-care job market are wading through a “sea of sameness,” where one agency looks just like the others, said Leigh Davis, owner of Davis+Delany, which helps companies implement unique methods for attracting and retaining top hourly talent.
Agencies not only tend to use the same online job boards, which further contributes to the sea of sameness, but these listings are usually written based on an old methodology where agencies emphasize themselves and their needs, and don't engage with the applicant, Davis told HealthLeaders.
"We want to start immediately changing the direction away from 'look at what we've got, aren't we great'," he said. "We want to turn that direction around and engage the applicant by giving them more and better information about the opportunity."
Generic headlines such as “Now hiring caregivers” or “CNAs needed” doesn't tell an applicant anything about the opportunity, Davis explained.
"Let's tell them what the opportunity is,” he said. “Let's give them information so we're magnetic."
Focusing on the applicant will engage and draw in a job candidate, so one way is to start by asking a question in the job listing’s headline that reflects what the job seeker wants, such as recognition, flexibility, to be part of something, to be valued and appreciated, and communication, to name a few.
Using Davis’ advice, an advertisement that reads, “Nonmedical home health caregivers needed” could be written in a more dynamic, engaging way: “Are you a caregiver who enjoys working in a one-on-one setting?” or “Are you a caregiver who needs a flexible schedule?”
"What we're doing is we're telling stories that engage the reader—the applicant, the caregiver," Davis said. "And we give them enough information where they're like, 'Oh, that looks interesting.'"
Such listings create trust, authority, and offer candidates a value proposition, Davis said, and as a result, agencies will begin to attract the best candidates—the ones they want in their organization.
Hiring the right people
Hiring the right people is crucial because the role of private duty caregivers in the care continuum cannot be understated; while they do not have medical training or certifications, the time that they spend with their clients is often equal to, or more than, that of the family, Davis said.
"They see the personality changes. They can sometimes see what's coming before the medical professionals see it coming," he said.
"They're giving the subtleties, the color, the inflections, the tone of what's happening and changing with that client so that the healthcare provider, the skilled care folks, can deliver better patient outcomes," Davis said.
Davis, who has nearly three decades of experience in the caregiving sector, knows the effects of subpar caregiving firsthand. His parents, who took care of his grandmother, dealt with a number of callous situations from caregivers, including theft, neglect, and inattentiveness.
With less rules and regulations at the time, Davis described the caregiving market then as "the Wild West," with companies sending anyone without screening beforehand.
Davis+Delany was created to develop processes and methods to form a framework to find better caregivers, he said.
In learning the innerworkings of caregiving agencies, Davis focused on recruitment and retention and discovered agencies were still using methods dating back to the 1940s to attract baby boomers.
"The words we're using, the methods we're using were developed to try to recruit folks that are a different generation," he said.
With that knowledge, Davis began building methods from the ground up that would be more applicable to current generations.
Prior to the pandemic, agencies had a balanced need for more caregivers and clients. Now, according to Davis, while most agencies aren't struggling to find clients, they are struggling to make good hires.
"There's also been this work-life assessment which has caused the caregiver to look at what they really want out of life," he said. "Is it all about work? Is the paycheck all I'm looking for? When the pandemic first hit and everyone was getting paid to stay at home, the number one [thought] was pay. Now, as the reality of life sets in, there's a little more of a balanced look."
“We want to start immediately changing the direction away from 'Look at what we've got, aren't we great.' We want to turn that direction around and engage the applicant by giving them more and better information about the opportunity.”
Leigh Davis, president, Davis+Delany
For talent recruitment, selection, and retention, many companies still use the same methodology used in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.
Nonskilled caregivers' observations of a client can be instrumental to the care that skilled care workers provide.
To attract the best job candidates, agencies must construct job listings in an engaging way that focuses on the candidate.