A Key Position the NHS Needs to Fill to Future Proof Its Workforce

With over 6 years experience working closely with NHS teams to attract values aligned candidates, Just R Founder Rachael explains why introducing a single new role to NHS Teams will substantially improve the effectiveness of recruitment campaigns, filling vacancies with great people.

Practitioner at desk

The position in question is that of a Candidate Conversion Manager, a position that the team here at Just R strongly believe could transform NHS recruitment processes, modernising and driving efficiency to the process. 

With the projected shortfall of healthcare workers predicted to reach nearly half a million by 2030, (this is without taking into account the vacancies within support services such as Estates and Administration) the NHS must think differently about how it attracts and converts people and they must do it now.

Over the past 6 years, Just R has developed efficient, effective processes to reach and attract candidates to the NHS. Through this work we have become acutely aware of the challenges facing NHS teams in the conversion of applicants to appointments and the struggles many candidates face when trying to navigate the NHS application process – particularly those without an NHS background. This is where the Candidate Conversion Manager, or as the Just R team like to call, the ‘Candidate Matchmaker’.

Without a doubt the NHS needs an injection of fresh blood to survive but with layers of red tape and bureaucracy existing in and around virtually every role within a hospital or service, the NHS will struggle to break free from the constraints it currently finds itself in – at the mercy of temporary staffing agencies and over-reliance on overseas recruitment. The need is to find a way of connecting individuals within the communities surrounding Trusts to jobs within the NHS, providing great work for good people who live locally and filling vacancies with people who are likely to stay in positions and therefore have the opportunity to progress in the future to fill hard to recruit to positions.

From what we witness week in week out, the connection of these individuals from the local communities to the roles which need them is currently far from an easy process. It requires the individuals to be motivated to look, know where to look, understand if they have the skills for a position and how to evidence it, and that is just the initial application process.

The challenge we see in filling entry level positions is not in finding quality candidates who want to work within the NHS, the challenge is getting these candidates through the system and into roles. This is evidenced not only by our teams here at Just R but also through social media and chat forums detailing how “outsiders” interested in joining the NHS believe antiquated methods make it nearly impossible for them to successfully obtain a job. 

All of this does the NHS’ employer brand no favours. A recent study found that 91% of people who had a bad experience with regards to service would not go back to the company and even more frightening the number of people they would tell of a bad experience ranges anywhere from 9 to over 20! Making it critical for the NHS application process experience, particularly for those outside the NHS to get in to be improved.


Occupational Therapist at NELFT

The misguided understanding we have grown used to hearing at Just R goes along the lines of ‘no one wants to work for the NHS’, which is without question, untrue. But if the NHS wants to appeal to and appoint ‘outsiders’ particularly those falling into the Gen Z category into the NHS it must make changes, the introduction of the Candidate Conversion Manager (CCM) or Candidate Matchmaker would be an excellent start.

The role of the CCM is to act as a champion for the candidate, matching screened candidates skills with vacancies available (now and in the future) within the Trust. The CCM is a great communicator who makes it their business to understand what teams really need. They are highly emotionally intelligent and make it their business to understand what makes a candidate tick so they can be placed in roles within which they will thrive – driving retention.

All of this generates a candidate pipeline to draw from (the development of which is Just R’s bread and butter). The efficiencies of building a pipeline will only ever be fully met once a CCM is in place.

We at Just R encourage leaders to consider how this role could be implemented formally within NHS organisations, to encourage both passive and active candidates, finding them suitable career pathways to explore and grow.  

Having a matchmaker (or a matchmaker team!) who can champion the success of the candidate, seeing them through the recruitment process to increase pipeline conversion is not only key to a long term sustainable workforce solution, it will also ensure the candidate experience improves – which is essential for the employer brand of the NHS to improve.

Key tips to drive recruitment efficiency

1. Develop an effective, long term, strategy to sustainably build candidate pipelines

2. Establish a system within which to manage the candidates – this will be the matchmakers tool to maximise candidate conversion, enabling the effective communication across candidates and recruiting teams (the Just R RPM system has been built for this purpose).

3. Formalise processes for candidate and recruiting teams communication and stick to them, candidates should never be left in the dark. This process should look very much like a customer service process, with the candidates overall satisfaction at the utmost importance.

4. Refrain from simply dismissing candidates as ineligible and instead look for opportunities in which candidates can establish routes into the organisation, if they’re not suitable straight see if there are any opportunities for them to grow for example volunteering, staff bank or domestic. Understand their skills and talents and help develop them!

5. Provide constructive feedback to support the learning and development of candidates. This will improve organisational reputation, encouraging increased attraction

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