Publish realistic job descriptions

Especially for first-time caregivers and career switchers, set clear expectations around what the job entails so there are no surprises on either end. Provide a realistic job preview and caregiver testimonials.

“We review hundreds of applications to hire one, maybe two caregivers that are still around by the end of 30 working days”

How it is today

With high caregiver turnover rates, we know many have this experience. Over the hundreds of conversations we've had with industry veterans over this past year, we've heard variations of this statement and recommend making one change to the way you approach job postings / job descriptions.

There are plenty of articles written about the various sections that should be included in a caregiver job description, so we're not going to rehash anything that's already been done, but if you're new to caregiver recruitment and looking for that information, the two following pieces are helpful starting points:

  1. Caregiver Job Description - from Betterteam
  2. Personal Caregiver Job Description - from LiveCareer
A sample search for Philadelphia-area caregivers
A sample search for Philadelphia-area caregivers

What we see from the descriptions above (and most of the industry) is that there are lots of bullet points with fairly industry-specific language ("monitor aspects of the client's health under the direction of a nurse") but that information can be easily presented in a more reader-friendly way.

A new approach

Here is an example of a job description for the same position, but framed in a way that a first-time caregiver or career switcher can easily understand what a typical day looks like.

Why you might love this job

Caregiving is the job for you if you want to make a real difference in people's lives during a difficult time. You'll build relationships with your clients, their families as you work in their home, and your coworkers as you spend more time providing care and communicating your client’s condition with other members of your client's care team (e.g., nurses, doctors, etc.)

Why you might hate this job

You will be responsible for the health, safety, and happiness of your client, which is a big responsibility. There will be days when you may have to accept a last-minute shift that is far from your home, or with a client who isn’t the most polite. We (in the office) get stressed out too, and may not be able to explain everything, everytime. You’ll need to work both independently and with other team members (e.g., other caregivers, nurses), which may be frustrating at times.

What you'd do in a regular day

Depending on your client’s specific condition, you can expect to bathe, feed, and dress them on a regular basis. You’ll learn your client’s preferences and quirks and possibly know them better than their own family members. For some clients, this includes taking them on activities and driving them to doctors’ appointments, hairdresser (this was more common pre-pandemic), or other appointments. As part of your shift, we’ll also ask you to write down how your client is doing and let us and other members of the care team know if anything is happening with them. Occasionally, you’ll also be working in a senior care facility, where you’ll interact with a wider set of teammates (both from our agency and from others). Over time, you’ll learn about what your preferences are in terms of clients, home vs. facility, etc. and as you share them with our team in the office, we’ll match you with better shifts that match your preferences.

What we need in order to interview you

Because of the people we serve as clients, we require at least a high school education and 1 year of experience as a caregiver. We’ll ask for one reference from a former manager and another from a former client. Please have these handy so we can spend more time getting to know you, and less time chasing down documents / references.

What would make you stand out to our team

Our caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, but they are all motivated by the desire to take care of our seniors and come prepared. What this means is that we can’t help you with the first half, but we can definitely help you come prepared. Prepared caregivers have their documents, references, and schedules ready to go. We value both your time and ours and want to make sure you get an answer from us as soon as possible. We look forward to learning more about you and possibly welcoming you to the team!

Note the difference between this job description/preview and what you usually see on job boards or company websites. The candidate reading this will know what their responsibilities look like in plain English, and understand what a particularly tough day would look like. This also leaves a section for 1) the minimum it takes to get an interview and 2) what gets a caregiver moved to the top of the interview pile.

By offering a realistic job preview at the point of posting, agencies may not get as many applications but will get more motivated applicants. Those who pursue the application process will do so with better knowledge of what the work actually entails, through the good and the bad.

“By offering a realistic job preview at the point of posting, agencies may not get as many applications but will get more motivated applicants.”

One of the best ways to provide a convincing job preview is through testimonials of existing caregivers addressing why they like the job, what they would like to change about the work and who is best suited for this type of work. Testimonials can be written but most convincing and accessible are video clips of real-life caregivers sharing their experience. Your caregivers are the best advocates to appeal to fellow caregivers. One perk of asking caregivers: they will be impressed that you care to involve them in recruitment.

Why we care

The unfortunate reality is that caregiver recruitment today is a numbers game for both caregivers and agencies, but what we're advocating for is a world where that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. By setting realistic expectations from the get-go, your team will both save their own time from interviewing candidates who aren't likely to be a good fit as well as save the caregiver's time from applying to a job they wouldn’t enjoy. After talking to numerous caregivers, what our team has found is that caregivers apply to so many agencies at any given time because they never know when one of them is going to offer them work. By explaining these things upfront, you're much more likely to attract the serious candidates who value both their time, and yours.

Please let Anne-Lise or I know if you have any questions around HR best practices or how to use data and analytics to be the best employer you could be to your caregiver workforce. Thanks for reading and please reach out if you have any questions or comments about this. We’d love to hear from you!

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