Now is the time to plan and launch your graduate nurse attraction campaign

As we move into the summer months there is a window of opportunity for NHS Trusts to seize the day and plan for a fast, effective graduate nurse attraction campaign. And with 36,000 nursing vacancies currently unfilled in the UK, time is of the essence.

With so many NHS vacancies nationally, it’s important to plan for a more stable future and act now to attract, convert and onboard amazing young people. Passionate, caring people who have finished their studies and registered with the NMC are graduating and now is a great time to reach out to help influence their decisions on the place they will choose to begin their nursing careers.

Current figures suggest that 94% nursing graduates find a job within six months of finishing their degree, and so there is a limited time frame to put your vacant roles in front of the right people – and of course, those with niche sought-after skills are snapped up well within six months.

The good news is that if you start to work on a plan of action right now you can be really successful in attracting graduates whose values align with your organisation and getting them into place smoothly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

What would that plan look like?

Many Trusts spend a huge amount of time and financial resource fire-fighting their recruitment problems (latest figures suggest £1.5bn in the UK) – but it doesn’t have to be that way. By planning and executing an effective graduate attraction strategy you can turn your approach from reactive to pro-active.

As the NHS’ own ‘Inspire, Attract and Recruit’ Interactive Toolkit outlines, you can apply a practical framework to sustainably solve your workforce supply requirements and create great teams.

First evaluate what roles are currently vacant and those that are predicted to become vacant within the life of your graduate attraction campaign. Match those roles against the skills, knowledge and experience that graduates will have and figure out which will be most suitable for that cohort and use them as the basis for your campaign

What do Generation Z want?

To attract newly qualified nurses ensuring you clearly communicate your offer and values in a way that appeals to them is essential. Our experience has shown the key influencing factors which help newly qualifying nurses choose a Trust are the following:

  • A well planned, supported preceptorship programme
  • The opportunity for rotations across different areas to gain knowledge skills and help them decide where they would like to focus.
  • The opportunity to join a great team
  • Location

This next generation of NHS staff will have grown up using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and utilising these platforms presents a key opportunity for alerting and attracting great candidates to join your team.

You then turn interest into attraction and ultimately, conversion by creating a journey for candidates from thoughtful beautifully branded social media posts to an online microsite specifically designed for your campaign with lots of rich content. This content could include quotes from key members of your team, and lots of valuable information about your facilities and location – and vision for the future.

No replacement for a real person

Once they’ve registered interest then that’s the time for a friendly, informal person-to-person conversation.

Especially for newly qualified individuals, the confidence a candidate derives from having someone enthusiastically registering their interest and being on hand to guide them through all the subsequent processes and administration can’t be underestimated.

By putting people into the people process and discovering their journey in finding you – and what caught their attention you can not only ensure their values align with those of the organisation, but also feed that insight back into the new campaign.

Turning from reactive to proactive

Figures released at the end of 2020 by UCAS, show the number of nursing applicants winning places at English universities in 2020 rose by 25.9 per cent on the previous year up to 29,740.  With an increased supply of graduates nurses due to qualify in the next few years, by developing your strategy now, you can get ahead of the curve.

The Summer period represents a time to reach out to last minute decision makers who could join your Trust in the coming months. But by acting now, your campaign can have the double benefit of creating early interest in the next cohort of winter graduates, who will soon be starting out on their journey to seek their first NHS position.

Planning ahead to ensure your Trust has a pipeline of quality nurses is one of the most efficient ways to maintain a positive sustainable future  with a strong team.

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