Oct 19

Recruitment success

Posted: 9 October 2019

Veronica Thomson, HR Project Manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, shares her experience of running a successful local recruitment campaign connected to the Department for Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) national recruitment campaign for adult social care.

The DHSC national recruitment campaign began on 12 February 2019 following successful pilots with Gloucestershire and Tyne and Wear Councils. We decided to use this as an opportunity to do things differently at Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) and rebrand our recruitment for adult social care roles.

Key learnings from DHSC campaign

We used the research published by DHSC in the lead up to the national recruitment campaign to inform our plans. It highlighted:

  • the importance of direct contact between the employer and potential employee, as this more than doubles the chance of applying
  • those with family and friends already working in the sector were found to be significantly more likely to apply
  • there’s confusion amongst applicants as to the qualifications required for roles, putting many off applying
  • marketing was vital to increase job enquiries and improve perceptions of working in the sector
  • digital channels were the primary job search avenues and the most effective way of spreading information to potential applicants.

Using local intelligence

We also used the local intelligence we had on turnover and vacancy rates. A workforce intelligence report, published by Skills for Care in June 2018, showed the turnover rate across all sectors within the County of Nottinghamshire to be 30%, whilst 9% of roles in adult social care are vacant at any one time, equating to approximately 2,000 vacant posts. Our local adult social care workforce plan identified several social care posts which had proved challenging to recruit to and retain people in.

Planning the campaign

Based on all of this information, we developed a communications plan and secured funding from our senior leadership team to deliver a local recruitment campaign. We decided to target the following posts with the campaign:

  • social worker
  • occupational therapist
  • reablement support worker
  • community care officer
  • personal assistant.

We set evaluation measures at the start so we could see how successful the campaign was.

A staff survey was conducted in the run up to launching the campaign to better understand how our staff view their roles and to inform the development of the campaign. Staff were invited to make suggestions around how recruitment could be improved, and we found that these aligned with the learnings from the DHSC pilot evaluation.

What we did

We started by looking at our web presence. Working with our communications and digital team, we created a new user-friendly landing page with information for each role we were targeting. To help bring them to life we produced videos with people currently in the roles as we felt hearing someone talk about their job is much more powerful than just reading a job description.

The videos were also used as part of a digital communications campaign which utilised our social media platforms to raise awareness of roles available at NCC and direct people towards the updated webpages and job adverts. As well as organic posts, we used Facebook advertising to target information to our key audiences.

We developed materials that aimed to portray NCC as an employer of choice with information on the benefits of working for us, alongside information on the roles we were recruiting for. We used the branding from the national recruitment campaign and the ‘Every day is different when you work in social care’ strapline.

Staff were encouraged to make a ‘pledge’ and describe how they would promote NCC as an employer of choice. These included distributing leaflets at community meetings and sharing content on social media.

Alongside this activity we attended multiple job fairs with staff from a variety of roles, supporting us to share their stories. We also engaged with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and attended job centre recruitment sessions focusing on promoting the department’s unqualified job roles. These sessions gained substantial interest and are set to continue beyond the end of the recruitment campaign as we seek to build upon the relationship established with the DWP.

For the personal assistant aspect of the campaign, we largely focused on attending career fairs and job centre events to generate face-to-face contact with individuals with the right profile and values to be carers. Social media posts supplemented this by providing a more wide-reaching, if less targeted, approach.


We found that the events we attended and the opportunity to talk to people face-to-face was beneficial. It provided us with the chance to talk people through application forms and what’s expected, encouraging them to apply.

We also learnt that our application form was too complex for some key frontline roles. We were using the same form for an entry level post as we were for our senior managers. We made the decision to change the recruiting process, starting with an expression of interest form to make it easier.

The digital communications campaign was a resounding success and comfortably exceeded the targets we set in terms of the numbers of people reached, visits to our website and job adverts viewed. Our Facebook activity was highlighted as a success, with 37% of the job advert clicks coming from Facebook. This channel was particularly effective for less specialised roles.

The overall campaign was successful in generating a substantial increase in application numbers and a significant number of these applicants have taken up jobs or joined the supply register. There was an increase in the number of applicants being shortlisted and passing interviews.

We were most successful in recruiting to the community care and reablement officer roles. We had previously tried to recruit to these roles on three separate occasions with no applications. During the campaign we received 50 applicants and appointed 21 people. We also saw a 50% increase in applicants to the personal assistant role.

Next steps

Following the success of the campaign we’ve set up rolling recruitment events and introduced a supply register that we can add interested people to and fill our vacancies from this list. We’re also considering how we get involved in the next phase of the national recruitment campaign from October to April to focus on recruiting Home care staff.

The next phase of the DHSC national recruitment campaign launches in October. It aims to drive a new generation of people to consider and apply for a job in adult social care. Find out more.