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Nursing talent drought: how to attract the best talent against the odds

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick
Talent in the healthcare sector; often it feels as though it’s difficult to find! And it’s not just a feeling either, with research suggesting that there are over 36,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS and that a third of care homes are ‘failing to provide safe levels of care.’ The headlines make for sobering reading and can make healthcare employers feel that they are fighting a losing battle.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, and there are specific steps that employers can take to give themselves a better chance of attracting, and retaining, the very best talent. A strong employer brand and a reliable, knowledgeable recruitment partner could make the difference your organisation needs. 

Employer branding for the healthcare sector: need to know

If you were asked to name a famous brand, there’s probably half a dozen or more that you could name off the top of your head. We’ve all heard of consumer brands like Coca-Cola, but what about employer brands? 

An employer brand should be to your potential employees what your market brand is to the people that use your services. An employer brand should be appealing to people that might be interested in working for you. Essentially it should portray your hospital, care home, or surgery as somewhere desirable to work – no mean feat for healthcare employers dealing with chronic staff shortages and budget cuts. 

Get it right, and an employer brand doesn’t just attract talent, it can help to retain staff too. An employer brand might showcase the following aspects of your organisation:

  • Success stories – what have people achieved since working with you – how can you celebrate this?
  • Culture – do you encourage staff to pursue a healthy work/life balance? Is patient care your number one priority?
  • Type of work – is the work varied, challenging and interesting?
  • Training and development – what opportunities are there to enhance skills, and how might a nurse or care worker develop their career with you?
  • Benefits – apart from salary and financial reward, what are the benefits of working for your organisation over and above another?


Post-recession and post-Brexit, healthcare professionals want to know that the organisation they decide to work for is a solid investment of their time and professional training. They need to feel reassured that their prospects are good and that they and the organisation fit well together in terms of values.

A strong employer brand shouldn’t just work to attract new talent, it should help to retain existing talent. In fact, one of the most effective ways to devise a strategy for creating an employer brand is to communicate with your existing staff. Find out what motivates them, what they would like to see more or less of, and how their experience could be improved upon and you’ll have a good idea of what potential employees are looking for.

Getting the right support for your brand

An employer brand is valuable and should pay dividends in the long term. A great employer brand, however, takes time and dedication to create, establish and maintain. And all the while the war for nursing talent rages on. Healthcare professionals work exceptionally hard in general, and the top talent even more so, and it’s hard work to attract them to your organisation too! 

Working with a specialist recruitment partner complements and enhances your own brand-building activity. An established recruitment agency will already have their own brand and a good reputation, which reflects well on you and provides reassurance to the candidate. What’s more, a recruitment agency that specialises in nursing and healthcare recruitment will have their ear to the ground and be able to keep you informed of candidate feedback, motivations and push and pull factors to be aware of when establishing and maintaining an employer brand. 

Not just a helping hand

It’s no secret that the NHS is facing huge staff shortages. Virtually every week there seems to be a media report to that effect. Indeed, just last year the Nursing and Midwifery Council reported that more nurses were leaving the profession than joining it. And after years of government austerity it’s unlikely that the skills shortage will be coming to an end any time soon. The advantage of working with a recruitment partner is that while you’re busy building your employer brand, they can access their existing pool of talent to find you the best candidate. 

An agency that understands the healthcare job market is key too. They can use their extensive knowledge of the sector to filter out the very best talent that matches up with your needs. And while the skills shortage isn’t likely to disappear overnight, it can take a weight off your shoulders knowing that a professional is handling your organisation’s recruitment. 

If you’re thinking of creating an employer brand or think that your existing brand needs re-developing, then why not get in touch with Clayton Recruitment? We’d be happy to chat about employer branding or help with finding nursing and care talent for your organisation.


If you’d like to find out more about building an Employer Brand, please download our guide here

If you found this blog interesting, have a look at our other post that gives you 5 tips for attracting and retaining nursing staff.

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