Recruitment advice

01 December 2019

This article was featured in the December 2019 - January 2020 issue of the magazine. 

Stephen Wilson, chief executive officer and co-founder of novacare, provides guidance


Search google for the best way to recruit and you will find over 200,000,000 results. It seems everyone is an expert and knows better than you. Well, sorry, that’s just not the case. Nobody knows your business better than you, but they may just have learnt some hard recruitment lessons that they are willing to help you avoid.

With thirty years of managing, commissioning, owning and regulating care services across the UK, I have recruited thousands of staff. Along the way I have made mistakes in the rush to fill a vacancy. I hope these life lessons help you avoid the same.

  • Why am I recruiting? – There has never been a more difficult time to recruit quality staff. Companies are faced with legal obligations, regulatory requirements, best practice, Brexit, competition, financial restraints and much more. However, it is also an ideal time to look at the efficiency and quality of your company. 

    • So, before you post your next job advert ask yourself:

    • Why are we doing things this way, are they needed at all? (Ritual)

    • If needed can tasks be automated, or processes improved? (Research)

    • Do I really need to replace the role or employ additional staff? (Rationale) 

If at the end of this you still need to recruit staff, you should know in detail the skills, knowledge and experience required to fill the role. This will shape an honest advert and job description.

  • How can I be more efficient? – If you don’t have one already get an applicant tracking system (ATS). Whether you employ one person or a thousand, a good ATS will ensure you don’t miss the perfect applicant and help you comply with your legal responsibilities.

Good recruitment systems can revolutionise your company. Going digital allows automation, opening your office 24/7 to interested candidates, helps recruit them faster, keeps in constant communication with them, and can reduce your costs by up to 90%.

  • Choose wisely – Don’t be tempted to advertise across hundreds of job boards there are only few that produce consistent results.

  • Quality not quantity – If you want to find quality candidates who are genuinely interested in your company, then avoid CVs. Our system shows avoiding these reduces unwanted applications by 90%, allows comparison of applicants equitably, processes them more quickly, and stands a ten-fold better chance of them completing the recruitment process.

Never shortlist by phone. There is no substitute for non-verbal communication when interpreting applicants’ responses. Today nearly everyone has access to Skype, Face Time or WhatsApp.

When you are ready to interview in person, then having a second person present allows you to balance opinions of candidates, safeguards continuity if an interviewer is unable to complete all interviews, and brings greater observational skills as they do not have to ask questions.


...never been a more difficult time to recruit quality staff


  • Good management information – At any point in a recruitment process you should be able run a live report which includes: 

    • the number interested in the vacancy

    • the number of people who applied

    • time taken in each recruitment stage

    • the number rejected

    • the number offered

    • the number recruited

    • the reason for rejection

    • the source of successful candidates, and

    • detailed demographics of candidates.

Live data allows you to quickly alter adverts, understand why job offers are rejected, ensure budgets are spent wisely and that successful candidates match the original skills, knowledge and experience required for the role.

Return on investment – Your time and resources are precious. When you need to recruit you want to make sure you do so successfully and with the minimum of delay. Taking time to review your management information may suggest a narrow campaign works best for key positions.

Alternatively, you may consider one of the following options a better return on investment:

increasing the hours of existing staff

devolving the existing job functions between the staff team

automating the job role either in part or in full

offering the role to existing staff as a job share

promoting internally and recruiting a position which is more easily filled.

  • Fine tuning your own performance – Do you know how long it takes applicants to progress through the following: initial application, interview, document and ID checks, offer letter, and final checks?

Taking time to look at blockers and poor performance in each stage will allow you to create a smooth, seamless recruitment process. 



There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to recruitment; however, some key factors are universal. With the impact of Brexit a reality for many industries, reviewing your recruitment processes regularly has never been so important.