Seeing potential: widen your talent pool

Recruiting people from all kinds of backgrounds. Some people face barriers to moving into work, and not everyone has recent experience or qualifications to support them.

People from all kinds of backgrounds can have the right values to work in social care and bring a wealth of skills, experience, perspectives and ideas to your workforce.

Taking an open approach to your recruitment can helps to:

  • recruit from a wider talent pool
  • attract a diverse range of candidates for your roles. 

In turn this can benefit your organisation, existing workforce and, most importantly, the people who receive care and support. 

How can we help?

We’ve got practical resources and guidance to help adult social care employers confidently recruit and retain people who may face barriers to employment and safely and fairly recruit people from different backgrounds.

This could include, for example, care leavers, single parents, disabled people, people with mental health needs, people with convictions, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Safe and fair recruitment guide

This guide supports employers to reach the potential of people with convictions by implementing safe and fair recruitment policies and procedures.

Download the safe and fair recruitment guide

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for adult social care roles

The Disclosure and Barring Service has produced this leaflet to address the eligibility of a range of roles across the adult social care sector. 

Download the leaflet  

Open recruitment is the removal of any unfair and unnecessary barriers that could unintentionally prevent the employment of talented people from all kinds of backgrounds.

People can face multiple challenges at different points in their lives, some of which may cause barriers to employment. That’s why it’s important that recruitment policies don’t automatically exclude people who may have overcome many of their personal challenges and have the right values to succeed in social care.

An open recruitment policy involves reviewing relevant aspects of the recruitment process to ensure it attracts and assesses the talents of people from different backgrounds, including marginalised and socially excluded groups.

This review can include:

  • changing the wording of job adverts
  • adapting how and where the vacancy is advertised
  • revising questions asked during the application process or at interview
  • modifying how candidates are short-listed for interview
  • refining how gaps in career and address histories are tackled
  • adjusting how working hours are set out
  • altering how and when applicants are asked to disclose criminal record history.

Open recruitment can also mean getting involved in or delivering pre-employment training programmes including apprenticeships, traineeships, work placements or work trials to those furthest from the labour market, whose skills might otherwise be overlooked. (See ‘Getting started with open recruitment’ below.)

Download our ‘Did you know’ see the person, value the difference resource. 

  • Open recruitment can be a cost-effective means to resolving skill shortages and creates a work-force representing local communities.
  • Evidence suggests that people from disadvantaged or marginalised groups can become some of your best employees.
  • Many individuals can bring fresh ideas and solutions to problems faced by people who need care and support.
  • Organisations have reported positive benefits including:
    • going the extra mile to secure results
    • stay with their employer for longer
    • have a strong commitment to their organisation 
    • have lower rates of absenteeism.

Values at the heart of everything

Placing values-based recruitment and retention approach at the heart of recruitment processes enables social care and health organisations to employ the right people with the right values in the right roles.

We've developed several resources to support employers in the sector embed values-based recruitment and retention initiatives.

JobCentre Plus

JobCentre Plus  provides a range of free services and support for employers. This includes advice on recruitment, help with job adverts and  creating  partnerships. They also offer specialist support for businesses e.g. setting up work trials to give employers the opportunity to try out potential recruits. Find your nearest JobCentre Plus or find out more about employing disabled people and how the Disability Confident employer scheme can help your business.

See Potential

The See Potential step-by-step guide to open recruitment developed by the Department for Work and Pensions in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC) is a practical toolkit which gives employers the framework needed to develop open recruitment policies and make their workplace more inclusive.

Engage with your local community and support organisations

Employers can compare their own workforce data to the local population to identify groups that may be under-represented in its workforce using this comparison tool developed by NHS Employers.

The results can help employers access resources and guidance to help them understand the barriers to employment people may experience. Employers can also access ideas and tips on how to strengthen their recruitment approach to target these community groups to help establish a workforce that reflects the local community.

There is a huge array of voluntary organisations that are dedicated to supporting people from marginalised groups into work. Some may be listed in the local area and will feature in the results of the comparison tool analysis.

Download our list of organisations and resources as a place to start. 

If an employer needs advice or support, it’s important they seek advice from expert organisations. 

Pre-employment training

Getting involved in or delivering pre-employment training such as traineeships, apprenticeships, and sector-based work academies can be a great way to help people get ‘work ready’ and support more people from all kinds of backgrounds into work. We've developed a wealth of practical resources to support employers.

Work experience opportunities

Our guide: Offering meaningful work experience includes practical information and downloadable templates that support adult social care and health employers provide meaningful work experience.

Information on carrying out criminal record checks on people doing a work experience placement is contained in this guide.

Case study examples

Read what other organisations have been doing to recruit from under-represented groups:

It’s important to have effective recruitment processes in place, however, some recruitment practices can unintentionally exclude people with criminal records from employment. This results in employers missing out on a huge pool of potential recruits who may have the right values to make a positive contribution to a role in adult social care.

Download our 'Did you know...myth buster' about employing people with criminal records.

Our ‘Safe and fair recruitment’ guide helps social care employers understand their legal rights and responsibilities when carrying out criminal record (DBS) checks. The guide helps employers understand that having a criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is unsuitable. It provides information and practical examples to help employers confidently implement safe and fair recruitment policies and procedures.

The guide includes:

  • information on legal rights and responsibilities regarding criminal record checks (DBS)
  • DBS eligibility criteria and appropriate level checks for different roles
  • help in addressing any existing barriers to recruitment
  • support to make recruitment processes more open
  • information on risk assessments for applicants with criminal records
  • guidance for making informed decisions about applicant suitability.

Download the guide.

 In 2017-18 we funded four initiatives to test some new approaches to recruiting for potential from under-represented groups.

Using the findings from the projects’ self-evaluation reports, this learning report looks at the barriers, challenges and successes of the projects, and pulls together important learnings and recommendations.

Download the report here.

Following on from these learnings, we're working with organisations during 2018 -19 to pilot some ‘longer-term’ approaches to recruiting for potential from under-represented groups.

Testing pre-employment approaches to support people from under-represented groups.

Learning from the 17/18 pilots clearly showed that people who experience barriers to employment often benefit from a broad range of supportive pre-employment activities, helping build confidence, employability skills to become ‘work ready’.

During 2018/19 the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the CareTech Foundation have very kindly funded a further five pre-employment projects to test out longer-term approaches to engaging people under-represented in the sector. The projects began in October 2018 and plan to run until March 2020. Find out more about each project below:

Leeds city council – Step into Care

Project location: City of Leeds, West Yorkshire

Leeds city council’s ‘Step into Care’ project aims to make a long-term impact on the supply chain of the social care workforce through raising the profile and awareness of careers within the care sector. The project will target groups furthest away from the employment market and currently under-represented within social care, including those living in disadvantaged areas who are likely to face barriers to education and employment.

The ‘Step into Care’ programme offers different pathways for people new into the care sector. These include: skills development, confidence building, qualifications and internships. In addition, they will also offer taster days and work with teachers and schools to develop and support the delivery of the curriculum.

The Growth Company

Project location: North West, including Manchester and Salford.

The Growth Company supports people struggling to find work across the North West of England. This project will support a range of people including those who are: recovering from addiction, have criminal convictions, have mental health needs or are long-term unemployed.

The Growth Company will offer a comprehensive pre-employment package of training to people who may not have previously considered a career in social care.

The project aims to equip these groups with the relevant training and qualifications to get them employment-ready helping fill some of the recruitment gaps employers are facing.

Upturn Enterprise Ltd – ‘Transforming lives and communities’ (TLC)

Project location: Greater Manchester

UEL’s ‘Transforming Lives and Communities (TLC)’ project will deliver a blended learning package with integrated work experience and highly-personalised support which reflects individual needs of each beneficiary. They aim to support people living in areas of multiple deprivation gain employment and remain in employment via their dedicated in work after-care support package. This supports local people (often hard to reach and long term unemployed) with diagnosis of needs, personalised training and development, ongoing coaching and supervised/mentored work experience in Health and Social Care Sector.

Inspirative Development (training arm of Inspirative Arts Derby CIC) – peer mentor programme

Project location: City of Derby, East Midlands

Inspirative Arts Derby is a social enterprise providing arts therapies and therapeutic arts for vulnerable adults and children. They also provide clinical supervision to support staff in the education, health and social care sectors. 

Inspirative Development focusses on how to work creatively with people, working in person-centred ways, and providing holistic support for staff and clients. They work with ‘non-traditional learners’ and people furthest from the workplace, offering non-accredited learning opportunities, and level 1-4 accredited qualifications.

Inspirative will develop and test a level 2 BTEC course in peer mentoring, to be used within the social care sector. The aim is to ensure social care employers are well-equipped to support volunteers, placement students, and new staff who might have additional needs.

If you would like to know more about any of these projects, or are interested in being involved, please contact

It’s both legal and beneficial to employ young people (aged 16 and 17), in social care services including home care and community-based services. Employing young people gives them the opportunity to start a career in care. The right employee, who has the right values and behaviours, can provide fresh thinking, challenge status quo and support with succession planning. They may also bring with them ‘lived experience’ that reflects the people employers are supporting.

view the guidance