29 Ultra-Specific Tips To Recruit and Retain More Caregivers

Connor Kunz Connor Kunz

The biggest challenge for almost any agency right now is recruiting and hiring caregivers. Almost every home care agency is struggling to hire enough caregivers.

There’s no silver bullet to caregiving hiring but there is a lot you can do to improve your hiring processes and stand out from the competition.

Where’d we get these tips?

Not to toot our own horn, but members of our team have:

  • Managed multiple multimillion dollar businesses
  • Been both caregivers and recipients of in-home care
  • Led agency education at a top ten home care franchise
  • Worked as office staff and been on home care company boards
  • Interviewed or consulted with hundreds of home care agencies
  • Led agency education at Home Care Pulse
  • Managed the creation of the Home Care Benchmarking Study

Above all this we talk to home care owners every day and are the type of nerds who study how to grow home care businesses when we don’t have to, simply because it’s fun.

Here are 29 things you can start doing today that’ll make a significant difference in your caregiver recruitment and hiring.

Improve Your Caregiver Recruitment and Retention Starting Today

1. Don’t just write your job postings and forget about them.

Creating good job postings is a science—most platforms, such as Indeed, give you data like impressions and clickthrough rates to give you quantitative insights on how your ads are doing.

You should be revisiting your ads at least weekly to check on their performance and tweak things to see how you can improve them.

You should be constantly trying different headlines and seeing which ones work best. A small difference in performance on one job ad could mean thousands of dollars saved and dozens more caregivers hired over the course of one year.

It may seem like an average job post, but there are a couple things this job ad in my area does really well: it gives shift-specific information ("Night shift") in the headline that attracts the right-fit applicants and automatically screens out others; it lists the pay; and it shows the length of shift. They've also earned the Responsive Employer badge. With these very simple steps, it's already ahead of 50-70% of the job ads I see for caregivers.

2. Run both paid and free ads on Indeed.

Almost every home care agency right now is using Indeed to hire caregivers.

You’re probably aware that Indeed has two general types of ads: paid and free. Each has advantages.

Paid ads ensure better placement and wider distribution, so you can bet that more applicants will see them than free ads.

However, like search results on other platforms like Google, many applicants are conditioned to skip past sponsored or paid results and go straight to the organic, free results, which are often considered more credible.

3. Secret shop your own hiring process.

Most caregivers are bombarded with dozens of options for jobs, and most companies are streamlining their hiring processes to become easier and faster so they can stay competitive. As a result, even a small technical difficulty like a page taking too long to load can cause qualified applicants to lose patience and apply someplace else.

You never know what technical hiccups or unreasonably difficult steps might exist in your caregiver hiring process from an applicant’s perspective unless you go through it yourself.

4. Try everything but zero in on 3-5 recruitment channels that work the best.

In the beginning you’ll want to cast a wide net so you learn what works; however, you’ll quickly want to identify what works and be exceptional at those specific channels. For example, you might try various types of community outreach and realize that you're exceptionally good at networking with CNA schools.

Too many home care owners complain about the difficulties of recruitment but fail to recognize that their difficulties come from doing a mediocre job of many recruiting activities instead of an excellent job at a few recruiting activities.

5. If you’re advertising on Facebook, uncheck the box for Audience Expansion.

Audience Expansion is essentially a way to ensure your Facebook ads reach a much wider group of people; however, it typically means that rather than using specific targeting to reach whatever type of person you’ve identified as being the most likely to apply for your job (for instance, those who have liked caregiving pages on Facebook and live within your geographic area), your ads are hitting a larger and less relevant group of people.

In other words, you’re likely to end up paying more money for the same results.

Audience Expansion helps Facebook make more revenue, so it’s good for Facebook but often not ideal for advertisers.

When you’re creating Facebook ads, the Audience Expansion button is near the bottom of this screen.

Audience Expansion isn't a bad thing to test out but I've almost always found that it makes it more expensive for me to achieve the same results.

6. If you’re advertising the job on Facebook, don’t try to target by age. Facebook will reject your ad.

Similarly, don’t waste time trying to target job ads by age on Facebook. This violates Facebook’s discrimination policies and you’ll receive a notification within a day or two that your ad was rejected.

This tip alone will automatically save you a day or two in getting job ads launched successfully.

7. Text applicants the morning of an interview to confirm.

Every home care agency will feel the pain of no-show applicants sooner or later. Sending a quick text (ideally from your hiring software, for convenience) the morning of the interview not only helps you know what to expect but also makes a difference in interview show-up rates.

8. Act as if you’re in a race to win every new caregiver—because you are.

The agencies growing the fastest today are almost always the ones who are the best at recruiting caregivers. Master caregiver recruitment (including hiring the best caregivers) and everything else is likely to fall into place.

9. Use your own example to set the tone of being caregiver-first in your agency.

Whether you’re a one-man/one-woman band or multi-location business with dozens of admin staff, the behavior of the top leadership toward caregivers will dictate your success in recruiting caregiver talent.

10. Treat your caregivers the way you want them to treat your clients.

Caregivers have their pick of agencies in today’s market, so become known as the best place to work.

The easiest litmus test to know how to treat your caregivers is to model the way you want them to use your interactions with them to model the way they should treat your clients.

11. Know every caregiver by name.

This may sound easy, obvious, and even unavoidable to a startup agency with three caregivers, but to a high-growth agency with lots of caregivers coming and going it’ll rapidly become more difficult. Knowing every caregiver by name is one of the steps to ensure that you’re staying involved with your caregivers and building relationships on an individual basis.

12. Text your caregivers on their birthday.

A little bit of personal interest goes a long way.

Texting caregivers on their birthday is an easy way to remind your caregivers that you value them as people, not just warm bodies to fill a shift.

13. Regularly check in with caregivers just to see how they’re doing.

When I worked at Home Care Pulse, the founder Aaron Marcum (who has owned and run several highly successful agencies) would repeatedly remind agencies we work with of the importance of communicating for relationships, not just logistics.

#12 above is a good specific step, but once a year isn’t enough; ensure that you or a member of your staff (ideally a mix of both) are regularly checking in on the well-being of your caregivers.

14. Ensure that caregivers know who to go to if there’s a problem.

Caregivers should know who they can talk to 1) if they have an issue while they’re working a shift, 2) if they have HR-type questions about their pay, benefits, or other general topics, and 3) if they have feedback on your agency can better meet their needs.

These may or may not be the same person and they likely won’t call for the same channels of communication. Ensure that you’ve created specific processes for each and that your caregivers know what they are.

15. Make sure that in every interaction no matter the context, your staff treat caregivers like the professionals they are.

No one should ever say they’re “just” working as a caregiver. It’s a critical job necessary for a healthy and happy society. Treating your caregivers as autonomous, committed professionals will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

16. Hire a scheduler that 1) is good at solving tough puzzles, and 2) your caregivers will love.

Schedulers (also called care coordinators or various other titles) are typically the office admin who will interact most closely with caregivers. They’re also the staff who will typically have the greatest impact on your caregivers’ day-to-day lives because of their control over the scheduler.

Take the time to find the right scheduler who can solve complex problems AND be a joy to interact with. You’ll never regret it.

17. Pay caregivers when they attend your trainings.

In many states this is a moot point as you may be legally mandated to pay caregivers, but it’s still something that needs to be said.

While it’s tough to justify any additional cost from a business that’s already low-margin, paying caregivers to attend trainings is a matter of basic respect that also directly impacts business results like recruitment and retention.

If you’re asking for their time, you need to pay them.

18. Start an employee referral program as early as possible.

Your most hardworking, reliable caregivers will almost always come as referrals from your most hardworking, reliable current caregivers.

I recommend paying $200-300 for each referral that you hire, with 50% of the money being paid at the time of hire and 50% being paid when the new hire completes their first 90 days.

19. In your job postings, make a note addressing people who are signing up so they can stay on unemployment.

The challenge of applicants applying to jobs to stay on unemployment is all too common; while it’s inconvenient, it’s important to remember that everyone’s circumstances are different and that some of these “false alarm” applicants might be helpful in the future.

Here’s what I recommend: add a line on your job postings that says something like “Applying so you can stay on unemployment? Leave your name on this Google doc (include a link) so that we won’t waste your time.” Then, you can still include their contact info in automated email/text campaigns in the future if there’s a time they decide to pursue working as a caregiver.

20. Keep a list of former caregivers that you’d want to work for you again and touch base with them periodically via email or text.

Similar to the last tip, keep a database of former applicants and caregivers that you periodically reach out to via email or text (likely automated). Over time, this pool will grow and you’ll occasionally get a caregiver back whose circumstances have changed or who’s realized that they prefer working with your agency over others.

21. Take the time to get your approach on Indeed and ZipRecruiter right. They’re most agencies’ bread and butter when it comes to recruitment.

These two sites alone account for the vast majority of applicants for many agencies, according to research I led while I worked at Home Care Pulse.

Take the time to get them right; I definitely recommend meeting with your customer success rep from these companies and building relationships with them as partners for your growth.

22. Make sure your home care software has a good caregiver app—and especially that it has 1) good messaging capabilities and 2) good care plan documentation.

Software that’s simple to use will save you time literally every day.

I can’t mention this without giving a quick plug for Careswitch. Goes without saying, but our caregiver app is top-notch. It’s built by a team of crazy talented designers and engineers with initials like MIT, IBM, and PhD on their resumes, and our customers are loving the simplicity and ease of use.

We even have dedicated engineers who take your feedback and use it to add the features that are most important to you. If you want to try it out for free without talking to a salesperson, you can get started here.

23. Always be recruiting.

I know home care owners who have ended up hiring their waiter at a restaurant, their local customer service rep over the phone, or people they’ve met at a bus stop.

There are great people looking for work (or open to new work) all over, and if you’re a considerate, fair employer who can offer them a better job you’re doing them a favor.

24. Work a caregiving shift yourself now and again so that you can have empathy for your caregivers.

This is a heavy ask for a home care owner; you’re extremely busy, perhaps already working a second job, and starting a business is never easy.

Taking the time to do an occasional shift (even a short shift, or part of a shift), will you give you empathy and practical insights that there’s no substitute for.

25. Contact every new applicant within 24 hours on weekdays and 72 hours on a weekend.

You’re in a race to hire the best caregivers. Want to win the race? Start by beating the competition to first contact.

26. Ensure that the time from accepting an offer to starting a first paid shift (even if it’s just orientation) is no more than 5 days max.

I’ve talked to a lot of home care owners and the time from accepting an offer to first paid shift varies quite a bit. 5 days can be difficult, it’s the absolute max in my opinion. You’re setting yourself up for fewer first-shift no-shows if you can get the number down to one or two days.

27. Continually seek and listen to employee feedback on how to better support them.

Keeping tabs on caregiver experience and watching for blind spots in your business is a key way to make sure you’re being a competitive employer. Caregiver experience is ultimately the backbone of your caregiver recruitment and retention efforts.

I can’t mention this without a shoutout to Home Care Pulse, a company near and dear to me who also provide the only sophisticated feedback survey program I’m aware of that is designed specifically for home care agencies.

28. Aim to pay in the 75th percentile of your local home care market.

Your individual strategy might dictate a slightly different approach, but I find that this is generally a good way to ensure that you’re staying somewhat competitive. Everyone would love to enjoy the recruitment benefits that come with paying very top of market, but I don’t need to tell you that it’s usually not financial feasible to do so.

29. Always give your caregivers the benefit of the doubt—and make sure they know that.

Always assume good intent, and remember that your caregivers will almost always rise to whatever level of behavior is expected and consistently reinforced.

Recruit and Retain the Best Caregivers and Everything Else Falls Into Place

The benefit about caregiver recruitment being one of the hardest parts of running a home care agency is that if you can succeed at it, you’re very likely to be successful in other places.

Good caregivers make your life easier by referring other caregivers, giving such good care that clients refer their friends, and even help you retain the best office staff.

Happy recruiting. 😊

I hope this was helpful. By the way, I work for Careswitch—a new home care software built for small but growing home care agencies. It’s built by a team of crazy talented designers and engineers with initials like MIT, IBM, and PhD on their resumes, and customers are loving the simplicity and ease of use. We even have dedicated engineers who take your feedback and use it to add the features that are most important to you. And did I mention it’s free to use our agency management software? If you want to try it out for free without talking to a salesperson, you can sign up free here.