How first impressions can make or break social care hiring plans 

6 min read | Brendan Ryan | Article | Retention | Recruiting

Woman in social care helping child

There is an ever-increasing need for talent across the social care sector, but unfavourable first impressions are causing many organisations to lose out on opportunities to secure candidates. According to our 2024 Social Care Salary and Recruiting Trends guide, the overwhelming majority (97%) of employers faced skills shortages within the last year, showing the urgent need for talent acquisition strategies that translate into effective hires. However, 64% of social care professionals have been put off from continuing with a job application because of a bad first impression of an organisation – showing that attraction methods are falling short. 


At a glance: how to make a positive and lasting first impression on social care staff 

  • Start off strong to set the tone 
  • Rethink what makes a good candidate 
  • Deliver on first impressions 

Whether it’s writing an engaging job advert or meeting a candidate for the first time, first impressions are very important to get right. Understanding what social care professionals really want and how you can develop your organisation’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to meet their needs is therefore critical.

So what can employers do to make a positive and lasting first impression on social care candidates? 


1. Start off strong to set the tone 

Good first impressions aren’t just a potential employee’s responsibility – employers must also ensure they are presenting the best version of their organisation to candidates during the application process. This crucial initial interaction sets the tone for the entire hiring process and can significantly influence a candidate’s decision to pursue a role. 

Employee movement in social care looks to be high in the coming 12 months, with more than half (52%) of professionals considering changing jobs in the year ahead. Motivating factors include their salary and benefits, the location of their role or concerns about job security, but other aspects such as how engaging and supportive the team culture is, and whether the organisation has a clear commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion also play a part. 

An understanding of what it is that employees in the social care sector value in a new role gives you the opportunity to better tailor your employee value proposition (EVP), helping you stand out from the competition and nail that first impression. Don’t forget to brief your hiring managers so they also feel confident promoting your EVP during the interview process.


2. Rethink what makes a good candidate 

Traditional approaches to hiring, such as requiring certain qualifications or experience from a candidate, could be holding you back from attracting and retaining a diverse range of talent.

Nearly seven out of ten social care employers (68%) don’t think it’s necessary for prospective employees to have a degree, and so hiring for potential could be a good way to broaden your pool of candidates and close any skills gaps. You could also consider hiring candidates from outside the sector – focusing less on experience and qualifications and more on a professional’s soft skills and attitude can help to improve retention rates and lower hiring costs.


“You can’t teach someone to care, you can’t give them that passion, so values from the onset are key” (Amanda Cunningham, CEO, Horizon Care and Education – Hays Social Care Salary Guide 2024 launch webinar)


3. Deliver on first impressions 

It’s critical that organisations maintain the positive first impressions they have generated during the hiring process once an individual starts their new job.

With career development a key motivator for job satisfaction, providing upskilling and training opportunities can help organisations solidify the positive first impression made during the hiring stage. As Jayne Stutt, Chief People Officer at Priory Group mentioned on our 2024 Social Care Salary Guide launch webinar, it’s all about making career pathways visible and a reality to staff.

Putting in regular career development reviews with staff, setting clear and achievable goals, and providing opportunities for employees to take on new responsibilities and challenges – including sideways moves – can help to achieve this. Actively and regularly communicating the opportunities available to employees, whether through team meetings, internal comms like company newsletters, or one-to-one discussions, can also help ensure transparency.

By taking the time to understand what motivates employees, employers in the social care sector can ensure they maintain the positive impressions made during the hiring stage, thereby helping them attract and retain the best talent in a skills-short market. 


Don’t underestimate the power of first impressions 

First impressions are pivotal to successfully finding and retaining social care candidates who can work towards delivering high-quality care and support to those in need. Delivering a good first impression can lead to more effective hiring outcomes, a stronger employee value proposition, and a workforce that feels valued and understood. 

We work with hundreds of organisations across the sector to help them deliver great first impressions and secure the candidates they need. If you’re hiring, register a vacancy with us today. 


About this author

Brendan Ryan, Director of Social Care

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