Bill Shell

Be prepared to answer the question in the headline in an employee-driven market.

The world of recruiting and hiring in long-term care has changed. With shortages in skilled nursing and caregiving candidates it has truly become an employee (candidate) driven market.

What are you doing to compete in this employee driven market? What new approaches for recruiting have you put in place? What do your most recent hires say about your process? Has your volume of applicants increased?

Long-term care workforce challenges, including shortages and turnover, is not only a problem today, but is forecasted to be a greater crisis over the next five years. The recruiting landscape of long term care has become an employee-driven market with providers in competition with others — just to ensure adequate staff ratios. How do you answer the question, “Why should I come to work for you?”

I remember when my wife, Dr. Linda Shell, RN, entered the field of long-term care. There were multiple candidates for each job opening. She applied with many organizations just to get an interview, let alone the job she really wanted. It was indeed an employer-driven market at that time. How times have changed!

As a relative newcomer to the field of aging services, I view this as an opportunity to learn from other industries such as retail, fast food, hospitality, and technology that have experienced similar challenges. It’s time providers got out of the staffing rut and started to think in more innovative ways — from a sales and marketing perspective.

Consider this: If the key to successful recruiting is a well-prepared approach to an employee-driven market, then providers must take the time to assess each step of employee recruiting and hiring process, confirming each element is conducive to attracting the best and brightest. In simple terms, you need to get your sales pitch and sales process down … yes, you are selling. In today’s long-term care marketplace, recruiting and hiring is indeed a role of marketing, not simply HR or staffing.

Start by answering the following:

•  How well are you prepared to compete for limited talent in an employee driven market?

•  Is your provider organization positioned to attract the best and brightest, or are you simply willing to take whatever comes your way?

•  How easy is it for someone to apply for the positions you have available? Is your online process simple, easy to use and mobile friendly, or is it time consuming and frustrates applicants?

•  What will applicants see when they check online reviews and social media posts? Yes, they will do this … and much more.

•  Is your organization’s mission, vision and values evident to candidates via social media? Are you living those out on a daily basis? The best applicants will be able to sense and observe if you truly live the mission.

•  Are your interview sessions a positive experience or simply a question-and-answer session where you do most of the talking?

•  Do you have a development plan in place for each applicant that you share with them at the time of the first interview?

•  Do you ask them about their professional goals and share opportunities for advancement with them during the interview?

•  Are you prepared to “sell” them on why you are the employer of choice?

You may wonder — are all these steps necessary? Aren’t they going to leave us when a better offer comes along?

That is possible, and with most unprepared and poorly positioned provider organizations, this is a greater risk. But should you really be willing to simply settle for less than the very best for your residents and families?

Are you willing to continue to bear the cost of time and valuable resources with constant turnover, or are you ready to enhance your recruiting and hiring process, taking incremental steps to not only attract, but also retain the very best? Yes, it is less far expensive to retain a team member that replace them.

Here are some suggestions for getting started:

•  Shop your organization from a candidate’s perspective – yes, I mean shop, just like you would for any significant purchase decision.

•  Play “the potential employee”

•  Peruse your website and try to apply for an open position. Are you able to see all the positions available? Is the online process simple to do and fast to complete (less than three minutes)? Do you receive a timely thank you and welcome via email after the online application process was completed?

•  Interview recent new hires to get their feedback on your recruiting process. What did they see as the pros and cons of the process?

•  Website and social media review. Access your organization as any potential employee would. What do you see that confuses or creates any areas of doubt? Is the vision and mission easily accessible?

•  Create caregiver features for your website and social media. Tell the stories of present team members and why they choose to work in your long-term care community.

•  Review your entire recruiting and hiring process. Simplify the steps, educate the teams involved, get everyone on the same page.

•  Incentivize staff to share open positions with friends on social media pages.

•  Lastly, ask your staff if they would refer a friend to work for your organization? Be open to their feedback. Address any issues you come across. Your current employees are your best referral source (and salespeople).

In conclusion, workforce will continue to be a significant challenge for long-term care. The question isn’t the challenges ahead — we can see those— but the way in which we address the problem and turn it into an opportunity.

Questions for getting started:

•  What will be your first steps to engage an employee driven marketplace?

•  What can your organization do today that will make it easier to attract the best of the best?

•  What will be your first move to fundamentally transform the way you approach the challenges ahead in workforce?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and action plans. 

Bill Shell is CEO and Chief Strategic Officer of He can be emailed at [email protected] He is a Certified Professional Coach with 30+ years of experience in starting, growing, and managing successful businesses. As co-founder of he partners with his spouse, Dr. Linda Shell RN, in working with aging services providers to offer executive coaching, leadership development, team building, strategic planning, project management, marketing plans and business start-up.