Recruiting in the health & social care sector, has always been extremely challenging despite the rewarding nature of the work. High levels of demand combined with low levels of supply of applicants due to the tough working conditions and low pay have arguably made it one of the hardest sectors to recruit for.

This extreme shortage of workers, has meant that the industry has relied heavily on migrant workers, but the uncertainty surrounding Brexit has only made it harder to attract talent.

So how do you recruit from a population who often do not use traditional methods of job boards, tend to be mobile only applicants, and who have the highest cost per applicant in the UK?

Plus trying to recruit across multiple locations, where there are significant geographical variances, so one strategy simply does not fit all.

To give you best insight into how to attract talent in the sector, we sampled over 2,500 health and social care jobs on the ClickIQ system to find the benchmark stats that will help you with your recruitment strategy.

Healthcare Recruitment Infographic

To explore the key healthcare recruitment stats from this report, click on image below to open the full infographic:

Summary Benchmark Data

The below data is taken from a sample of over 2,500 jobs on the ClickIQ system and includes both Nursing and Care Staff jobs.
  Healthcare Vs Benchmark (all sectors)
Conversion Rate 6.88% Below average
Cost-per-click £0.56 High
Cost-per-application (overall) £4.76 Very high
Cost-per-application (paid advertising only) £17.61 Very High
Given every metric above is negative vs the benchmark, these combine to make the sector one in which it is extremely hard to recruit in.

Some specific examples

Let’s look at a couple of individual examples. Below, we have highlighted three roles in different locations levels from top employers. Across the data we sampled, there were wide variations but the following was fairly typical:
Job Title Care Assistant (Kent) Care Assistant (West Sussex) Care Assistant (Surrey)
Clicks 649 130 297
Applications 17 8 25
Conversion Rate 2.6% 6.1% 8.4%
Spend £488.81 £130.47 £242.53
Cost-Per-Application (CPA) £28.75 £16.31 £9.70

Key Challenges:

1. Healthcare Skills Shortage

One of the key challenges facing healthcare recruitment is quite simply that we are living far longer than we ever have done before so demand for healthcare staff is only growing. This is compounded by the fact that our numbers of healthcare staff are only decreasing.

A large number of our UK healthcare staff are from the baby boomer generation – these employees are now all in their sixties and are starting to retire. With Brexit just a couple of months away and a large percentage of our healthcare staff non-UK nationals, this recruitment deficit could only grow further.

Healthcare recruiters need to stay ahead of the curve over the next couple of months. Get recruiting now and make sure your recruitment is optimised for the best results before Brexit rears its ugly recruitment head (an automation system, like ClickIQ can help you with this).

2. Location

Location is one of the most important factors on healthcare recruitment, with huge discrepancies between geographies based on the available supply and demand for staff. So some areas will be able to fill roles with ease using just organic (free) advertising, where as others will have to spend significantly to attract applicants.

A great way to combat this challenge is to advertise your roles on social media and target them based on location.

Simply set the locations you want to reach and then launch the campaign, using either employer branded or direct response ads (the Client Success team at ClickIQ can advise you on how to set these up).

3. Mobile

81% of applicants across the sector look for jobs from their phone.

Most candidates finishing a late shift are also more likely to search and apply for a job using mobile rather than desktop. So make sure your application process is mobile friendly, chatbots can offer significant benefits and a more user-friendly candidate experience. 

4. Shift Work

When recruiting healthcare staff, it is vital to remember that often they do not work your traditional 9am-5pm hours. Instead, many of them may finish a shift late in the evening or in the middle of the night.

Healthcare recruiters need to cater to these individuals. Again, a good way to do this is using chatbots.

Chatbots are live 24/7. They can ask the job seeker questions and collect the answers ready to be handled by a recruiter the following day. Not only that, but they offer a faster and more engaging experience for the candidate (data suggests that they can boost candidate engagement stats by as much as 60%).

5. Job boards Vs Social media

Whilst job boards can produce good volumes of applications, the targeting options within social media are particularly effective, as many of the candidates are not active job seekers but can be targeted by job type, qualifications and location.

Yet again, the application process for these applicants is very important. Yes you guessed it, chatbots are the answer.

Top 4 job searches

To make sure that your jobs get found, you need to understand how job boards and search engines work. Job matching algorithms prioritise job title and location, so it’s vital to use job titles that exactly match what people are searching for. The top 4 job title searches are:
  1. Care Assistant
  2. Nurse
  3. Health Care Assistant
  4. Support worker 

Healthcare PPC Benchmarks

The average cost-per-click for healthcare is £0.56, however in certain locations this can go much higher, up to as much as £2.50 per click.

Healthcare recruiters will need to be bidding this much if they want to remain competitive in the recruitment marketplace, particularly if they are recruiting niche roles or in certain locations.

By paying more, you will also attract higher quality applicants because you will appear higher in the listings (no great candidate will search 10 pages of job adverts because they don’t need to). This is particularly true in very competitive industries where applicants find it very easy to find a new job.

Using an automation system like ClickIQ, can ensure that you don’t waste your recruitment budget, because the system will only spend what it needs to get the results you want. Just set your CPC budget in the system and ClickIQ will optimise your healthcare jobs performance in real-time.

Focus on Indeed

Indeed are the worlds largest job board, and they kindly provided us with some specific data in reference to health and social care recruitment in November 2018, which I have summarised below:
Job type Care Assistant Home Manager Registered Nurse Social worker
Jobs     23,348 2,627 20,549 5,426
Jobseekers      913,316 47,832 106,077 137,745
% Mobile         75% 58% 65% 64%
Average salary            £8.95 ph £44,960 pa £17.94 ph £26.02 ph
Top Search Term Care Assistant Care home manager Nurse Social Worker
This data highlights the differences in supply and demand, and just how difficult it is to hire nurses. 

So, how much should you spend?

Healthcare roles are some of the most expensive to recruit for.

Based on historic cost per hire data, we would recommend investing an average of £123 per vacancy.

This is based on needing 10 applicants to fill a role, and generating 40% of responses organically, with the average cost per paid application of £17.61.

However, this will vary significantly depending on location, strength of the employer brand, salary levels (the sector is very sensitive to small variations in pay) typical number of applicants needed to hire etc.

Why Use an Automation System?

Using an automated talent attraction system is a great way to ensure that you never overspend as the system will only pay exactly what you need to get the results you want. The platform will automatically plug you into an extensive media network of Job boards (including Indeed), Facebook, and Google and then optimise the performance of all jobs in real-time. 

This is especially important where there are such huge differences between roles in different locations. Ensuring spend goes into the harder to fill roles.

One of ClickIQ’s healthcare clients, Anchor Trust, improved their recruitment advertising performance by 70% by using automation.

Their Recruitment Manager stated: “ClickIQ has given Anchor the opportunity to reach a larger audience than we were previously attracting due to the number of job boards and aggregators they distribute to. Since using ClickIQ, we have been able to optimise our recruitment spend and improve our ROI whilst we continue to attract talent.”


  1. Paying on a performance basis (per-click or per-application) is the most effective recruitment model for healthcare staff as it ensures there is no wasted spend. Healthcare is already an expensive area to recruit in so it’s important to make sure that you are only paying when you get results.
  2. Set your cost-per-click high (we recommend starting around £0.56). This will ensure that you appear higher in the listings and therefore reach the best candidates.
  3. Due to the competitive and niche nature of healthcare roles, they will always be slightly more expensive than other industries. We would recommend investing £123 into each healthcare role to remain competitive in the industry.
  4. Keep your employer branding strong and make sure that your EVP is clear – Healthcare is a competitive sector and you want to ensure that your employer brand stands out from your competitors.
  5. Get ahead of Brexit. If your healthcare is going to suffer when Brexit arrives in March, then start recruiting now. There is still time to build up your organisation and get ready.
  6. Keep your careers site mobile-friendly. Most shift staff don’t finish a night shift at 4am and go home and sit at a desktop computer. However, they will be on their phones checking emails and messages. Ensuring your careers page and application process is easy to manage on mobile will help boost your conversion rates.
  7. Ditch the application form and invest in a chatbot. It’s a much more engaging experience that is simpler and faster for the candidate. As they’re live 24/7, they are also a great way of interacting with candidates that may not be working traditional working hours.
  8. If your roles are underperforming, target passive candidates (healthcare staff that may not actively be looking for a new role but would be interested in a new opportunity). Advertising your roles on social media is a great way to target specific candidates and when partnered with a chatbot can be especially powerful. Contact the ClickIQ team to find out more.
  9. Get Google for Jobs ready. Google rolled out their new jobs feature in the Summer of 2018 and, whilst it is yet to have a huge impact, we can guarantee that it will have more of an effect over the next couple of years. Explore our Google for Jobs Strategy Guide to find out more.
  10. Keep up to date with the latest recruitment news and trends by signing up to Hung Lee’s Recruiting Brainfood.

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