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How to Recruit the Right Direct Care Staff

By Kezia Scales, PhD (she/her) | June 25, 2018

Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from Growing a Strong Direct Care Workforce: A Recruitment and Retention Guide for Employers.

The key to retaining a committed and well-qualified direct care workforce is to recruit the right individuals from the start—those who are most likely to succeed in the caregiving role. Here is what you can do:

Involve frontline workers and supervisors

Engage your current frontline staff in planning a new recruitment strategy, developing outreach materials, or speaking to potential applicants. By seeking input from staff, you will strengthen your recruitment approach while acknowledging their value to your organization.

Consider the message

Design your recruitment materials to attract candidates with the right mix of attributes, values, and experiences. Be sure to lead with your organization’s unique mission, and emphasize the complexity and rewards of caregiving.

Identify a range of potential applicants

Adapt recruitment methods and materials to reach new populations—like younger people, older adults, and men—as well as traditional candidates.

Personal Referrals Count. While job advertisements may attract a lot of candidates, personal referrals lead to more hires. When one agency tracked its recruitment methods, it learned that its hiring rate was 3 percent for candidates recruited online versus 44 percent for referred candidates.[1]

Develop targeted outreach strategies

Although broad outreach may attract a lot of candidates, it often leads to high attrition. Instead:

  • Build partnerships with schools, colleges, workforce development organizations, and other agencies that serve unemployed or low-income workers, immigrants, younger or older workers, and others.
  • Connect personally with potential workers through job fairs, information sessions, and other events in the community.
  • Seek referrals from current employees. Consider offering a bonus for successful referrals, but make it clear that there will be no penalty for referrals that don’t work out.
  • Spread the word on social media. Reach motivated candidates (those who do extra research online) by featuring personal stories and employee reviews on your social media sites, along with your other recruitment materials.


How can long-term care providers improve their recruitment and retention? Read our new guide, where you can also find a list of citations.


  1. Source: Dudzinski, Tracy, Debra Schultz, and Jordan Gabrielson. 2017. “Lessons Learned from Cooperative Care Recruitment Drive.” Paper presented at the National Home Care Cooperatives Conference, Dulles, VA, November 6-9, 2017.
Kezia Scales, PhD (she/her)
About The Author

Kezia Scales, PhD (she/her)

Vice President of Research & Evaluation
Kezia Scales leads PHI’s strategy for building the evidence base on state and national policies and workforce interventions that improve direct care jobs, elevate this essential workforce, and strengthen care processes and outcomes.

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