Employee stories and how they inform recruitment

Throughout the year, we spoke with some of the fantastic people we hired for our social care clients, whose stories were featured in the likes of the Daily Mirror, The Guardian, and BBC Radio Four Woman’s Hour. As we welcome 2019, our Talent Director, Dave Beesley, reflects on how stories can inform recruitment for the year ahead.

Meet Darren…


Darren had never worked in care before, and after a lifetime working in factories, warehouses and gardens, he found himself out of work. A visit to a care event held by Cohesion at a local job centre opened Darren’s eyes to the world of care, and since then he hasn’t looked back.

You don’t need to scrutinise statistics to realise that the sector struggles to recruit males. Traditionally care has attracted more women – but our data is painting a different picture when it comes to new applications.

A review of some 26,000 applications found that 40% of applications to our social care vacancies were made by men in contrast to the current 20% makeup of males working within the sector. I suspect it won’t be too long before the percentage of male applications further increases, yet a higher percentage of men drop out of the recruitment process currently in comparison to female applicants. Will this continue if we don’t adapt our processes?

Hiring managers need to be well-equipped to make sound decisions at interview stages. Make sure interviewers know about gender bias and how to avoid it. Arm them with the tools to assess fairly – creating positive and negative indicators for answers given in response to interview questions.

We gave candidates access to videos of other carers, both male and female, describing the role and what to expect. Feedback suggested that candidates found it useful to hear from male employees, and that seeing other men working in a caring role was refreshing.

We also looked at career websites and whether imagery and wording might turn off male candidates. Pictures and videos of both men and women demonstrates greater gender diversity in your teams, and it’s worth checking out some of the nifty gender bias tools available online that allow you to check advert wording for neutrality.


Meet Jenny…



Jenny is in her 80s and loves her role as a Care Assistant. Her career in care spans decades and her story is both inspiring and humbling – as she describes experiencing racism in her early career, and coping with end of life care. There are Jenny’s out there who would thrive given the opportunity to care in a work capacity but don’t think to apply. This needs to change – and it starts with recruitment.

Be accessible during the recruitment process. Candidates are used to online application forms and communicating via email and text messages – but we find that candidates like the ability to pick up the phone to recruiters and talk. It sounds simple but giving applicants the option to chat about their motivations for applying and transferable skills is far more telling than a CV or application form.

Ask yourself whether you’re being too rigid with shift patterns. Some people need to start slightly later in the day or don’t feel comfortable travelling home late at night – but they’ll make excellent carers. In Jenny’s case, she’s opted for night work – and that works for her and the home she works in. Flexibility can be important to all ages, so make sure this is reflected in your rota scheduling when considering new applicants.


Meet Mutsa…


Within the same BBC Four Woman’s Hour interview with Jenny, we also hear from Mutsa, a young Healthcare Assistant who has been inspired to become a Nurse, following in the footsteps of some of her relatives. Mutsa’s friends ask her how she can relate with older people with dementia, or deal with intimate personal care, but Mutsa is not put off – and like Jenny, she loves her job.

The care sector could be much better at engaging with young people. Organisations have been recruiting early talent as part of placement, apprenticeship and graduate programmes for many years – so how do they do it well?

Consider three audiences; the educators, the student, and the parents or guardians. Engage with schools and colleges in your communities by holding career information sessions for students and teachers – or better still invite them in to see it for themselves. Sessions should be engaging and inspiring so think about how you can interact with younger people and excite them about the work and the career pathways available.

Your website is your shop window and requires dressing well, with face to face engagement at careers events just as important. Placements and work experience are great for future proofing your workforce. Offering a taster of the different opportunities available in care will result in a good percentage returning to your organisation later down the line. Parents and guardians are huge influencers on career decisions from an early age. Invite them to your career sessions and answer their questions too.

Listening to the stories of the people we recruit has been a useful exercise – and we’ll continue to listen in 2019. Not only do the stories inspire our recruiters to find the most compassionate people for the care homes and services we recruit for – but they also inform recruitment and help us to know how we can recruit in the most effective way.

Cohesion would like to wish our clients and candidates, as well as all those dedicating their time to working in care a prosperous year ahead. We wish you all the best in your careers and we hope that you continue to help inform recruitment with your amazing stories.