Seeing potential: widen your talent pool

Seeing-Potential-Word-Cloud-Web-250-x-250Recruiting 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. However, people from all kinds of backgrounds can have the right values to work in our sector. They can bring a wealth of diverse skills, experiences, perspectives and ideas to your workforce.

Taking an open approach to your recruitment can help you recruit from a wider talent pool and attract a diverse range of candidates for your roles. In turn this can benefit your organisation, existing workforce and, most importantly, the people that access your services.

We’re developing 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.

Find out more by exploring the sections below.

New for November 2018: Safe and fair recruitment guide

Our new 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 here

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. This includes people who, given the right support, training and development could make a valuable and positive contribution to an organisation. 

People can face multiple challenges at different points in their lives, some of which may cause barriers to employment. For example: someone may be experiencing homelessness as a result of other challenges such as family breakdown or leaving care or the armed forces. 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 have overcome their own personal challenges which can bring fresh ideas and solutions to problems faced by people who need care and support. Organisations report positive benefits to an open recruitment approach, including that employees from these groups go the extra mile to secure results, stay with their employer for longer, have a strong commitment to their organisation and have lower rates of absenteeism.

Values at the heart of everything

Placing values-based recruitment and retention (VBR) 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. Visit our toolkit to find out more.

“The right values, behaviours and attitudes are the raw materials for quality care and support - good induction, training and management will do the rest." ADASS

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 them the opportunity to try out potential recruits. Find your nearest JobCentre Plus here.

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. Or you can 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:

Medway Council 


Inspirative Arts

Unique Personnel 

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 'myth buster' about employing people with criminal recrods

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.

We will soon be announcing the organisations taking part in this longer-term pilot.



Safe and fair
recruitment guide


A guide to employing people with convictions in social care.



Supports employers to implement safe, fair and open recruitment practices.

Download here