At UK Care Guide we’re used to helping care professionals to find the next step in their career. We work with both employers and candidates – so we know how difficult it can be on both sides.
Employers find it hard to locate quality staff, and job hunters don’t always have easy access to vacancies and applications. This is why healthcare recruitment agencies are so valuable for both parties.
Care recruitment agencies are a great way for those already working in the industry or newly trained professionals to easily find work. It’s much quicker (and less stressful) to enlist the help of a care recruitment agency as opposed to spending hours applying individually for positions on your own.
But whilst there are numerous job applications to trawl through, it’s also true that there are just as many agencies.
Choosing the right healthcare recruitment agency is a key factor that determines your success in finding your dream job in care. Each agency is different – some are better than others. Some specialise, others don’t. This makes it hard for job hunters to find the right agency – but it also benefits candidates.
Having such a wide range of recruitment agencies to choose from helps you to increase your chances of finding work – provided you adopt a targeted approach. In this article, we share our 11 top tips to help you choose the best recruitment agency for you.
1. Be clear about the type of role you’re looking for before you begin your search.
Before you start you search you need to sit down and carefully consider where and how you’d like to work. The care industry is vast – and serves as an umbrella for a huge variety of careers and job types.
Firstly think about the hours you can commit. Care jobs can involve long, intensive hours and shift work. But there are also part time, casual positions available.
- Do you want a part time or full time position?
- Would you rather not work weekends?
- Do you have children and need to work early shifts?
Secondly consider the type of work you are looking for. Do you only want a home care role taking care of general housekeeping and providing companionship?
Or would you prefer to work in a nursing home with greater responsibilities involving personal care and medical tasks? Are you a qualified nurse? Investigate which roles you are eligible for, and decide whether you’re comfortable with them or fancy trying something new.
Many agencies specialise – as we explain in further detail below. So being specific about what you are looking for in a care role will help you to match yourself to an agency which focuses on the type of jobs you prefer. It will also help tem to find you perfect roles, increasing the chances of you finding employment quickly.
2. Be prepared before you apply.
Most care recruitment agencies will want to see an up-to-date copy of your CV, a list of credentials and details of your qualifications. They will also need details of past experience and a reference, if applicable.
It’s a good idea to gather all of this information and have it in place ready before you reach application stage. Common information required by healthcare recruitment agencies includes:
– A detailed, well laid out CV
– Certificates relating to your relevant qualifications
– References or details of referees (either character or professional depending on your level of experience)
– A detailed work history
– Any extra qualifications, experience or personal qualities that set you apart from other candidates
If you’re unsure of anything, contact a couple of agencies to see what they require. Often they can provide support and help you gather information and reformat your CV if they feel you are a promising candidate.
3. Get organised with an initial hit list of healthcare recruitment agencies.
There are many healthcare recruitment agencies out there. For this reason it’s a good idea to get online and make a list of healthcare recruitment agencies which fit your basic criteria.
You can also check your local papers and even directories to see whether there are any healthcare recruitment agencies looking for candidates in your area.
It doesn’t matter how long this list is. Make sure every potential company is included, even the ones you’re not so sure about. Bear in mind at this stage that healthcare recruitment agencies are all different – and that appearances can be deceptive. You can do some digging and make a definitive selection at the short list stage and beyond.
4. Make a short list of health and social care recruitment agencies.
Once you’ve considered your individual criteria, it’s time to make a short list of health and social care recruitment agencies. Using your original list you can condense or prioritise based on each one’s credentials.
As the name suggests, your short list needs to be short – so be ruthless. Although you’re going to condense your list of health and social care recruitment agencies further, it’s still worth eliminating any which simply don’t fit your criteria. For example, you may be looking for a live in care role, but one agency on your list only specialises in care home work.
Or you’re a qualified nurse looking for jobs in hospitals or nursing homes, but one of the health and social care recruitment agencies you’ve listed only deals with low-level care roles and companionship. This is a quick and easy way to cut out the dead wood, leaving only the health and social care recruitment agencies that offer you a real opportunity of employment.
5. Ask to see each agency’s success rate.
When it comes to healthcare recruitment agencies (or recruitment agencies of any kind, in fact) the proof is often in the pudding. From both an employer and a candidate perspective they need to be dedicated, persistent and informed.
They need to be able to locate appropriate jobs, get clients on board, then effectively match you with the perfect role. This benefits all parties.
When you’re first introducing yourself to agencies you’re within your right to enquire about their success rate. Without stats and figures you may find you don’t get an honest response – but client testimonials speak for themselves. If they can show you evidence of content employers and candidates, it’s a pretty good indicator of their success.
6. Ask to see which companies each agency works with.
If you’ve got big ambitions and want to be part of a large independent company or a nationwide franchise, it’s best to investigate the types of clients your agency works with.
If they have secured big names like Bupa, Home Instead and Four Seasons you can be sure that they are experienced and can find you a role in a larger company. Even if you haven’t heard of the companies your agency works with, it’s still best to give them a try. Knowing what companies your agency works with gives you an accurate idea of the type of role, salary and benefits you can expect.
7. Make sure you choose the right geographical location.
Some healthcare recruitment agencies operate nationwide. Others are very specific about the area they cover. If you’re willing to work further afield or can be flexible about your location then a national agency might be a good option for you.
However if you’d prefer to stay local companies based near you are likely to have a better selection of roles close by.
When making your short list decide how far you’re prepared to travel, and even investigate transport routes to and from the areas your prospective agencies cover. This way you can be fully prepared if you are offered a job interview slightly outside your desired area.
8. Get independent recommendations from others.
The best way to obtain an accurate impression of the agency you’re about to enrol with is word of mouth recommendation. If you’re already working in the care industry, ask around (carefully) to see if any colleagues have experience of the recruitment agencies you’re considering.
They’ll be able to offer a candid, honest perspective and explain the pros and cons of each from a candidate point of view. This is a great way to narrow down or prioritise your short list, as you then know first-hand whether the agencies you have chosen are likely to help you find a job quickly.
9. Remember that no two agencies are the same. Is a social care recruitment agency more suited to you?
The term ‘healthcare recruitment agency’ covers a wide range of firms who specialise in certain types of roles. This is good news for job hunters, because it means as a candidate you can effectively target certain agencies based on your criteria.
However if you’re looking for a specific type of role (or want to explore a different career path) it’s worth investigating a different type of agency.
A social care recruitment agency specialises in social care roles. These include (but are not limited to):
– Social workers
– Probation officers
– Home carers for vulnerable people and adults with learning disabilities
– Key workers (for families, children, those with alcohol and drug abuse problems and more)
– Play workers
If you have been working in the care industry for some time you might want to branch out or try something new.
Many of the roles advertised by a social care recruitment agency may offer training on the job, or additional benefits. You might not require specific qualifications. For this reason if you’re looking for something a little different it’s worth signing up with a social care recruitment agency as well as other healthcare recruitment agencies.
You may find you’re perfect for a surprising role that you’d never considered before.
10. Only want to apply with care home recruitment agencies or social care recruitment agencies? Target your efforts.
Care home recruitment agencies specialise only in work in care homes.
So if you’re looking specifically for work in a care home (or nursing home), it’s definitely worth targeting care home recruitment agencies in particular. Bear in mind that there won’t just be one type of job available.
Care home recruitment agencies will provide employers with support to find a wide range of people who occupy a number of roles in care homes. These include nurses, care workers, cleaners, cooks and receptionists.
As above, social care recruitment agencies will specialise in roles in social care.
These include key workers, carers, social workers and more. Social care recruitment agencies are perfect for candidates who prefer a slightly less physical, hands-on role, or want to work in different sectors with a more diverse range of individuals.
If you are still exploring the range of jobs available on the market within the care industry and aren’t sure which agency to choose, it’s worth researching each role in detail. Then you can sign up with care home recruitment agencies and social care recruitment agencies to get a feel for the types of jobs out there, and see which ones could suit you best.
11. Match yourself to each healthcare recruitment agency’s criteria.
Take a look at each healthcare recruitment agency in turn and see how they describe themselves. See what they look for in candidates.
If they have posted details of current vacancies, investigate what type of criteria they need you to have. One healthcare recruitment agency may focus on personality in particular – another may only be interested in qualifications.
Once you’ve determined the key aspects of interest for each healthcare recruitment agency, make a note of them under each entry on your list. This means that you can tweak your CV and approach, tailoring them to each healthcare recruitment agency to ensure maximum success.