“The collaboration between Indeed and the National Health Service is a stimulus for change,” said Carolyn Fox, a strategic nurse advisor at Health Education England. She first joined the National Health Service (NHS) in 1987 as a student nurse. “It stimulated the NHS to think in more innovative and creative ways about the recruitment processes.”

England’s NHS is a socially based healthcare system that delivers free care to its citizens. With the increase in demand during COVID-19, the NHS, along with healthcare organizations around the world, faced recruiting challenges. In 2021, the Health Foundation’s REAL Centre — a segment of the foundation that analyzes the NHS workforce — reported that they will need to expand by 40% in the next decade to meet rising demand and recover post-pandemic.

Diversifying the Talent Pool

Fox says the main obstacles for NHS’s hiring included human resources’ limited capacity to process the volume of candidates required and job seekers misperceiving requirements for the NHS. “They don't realize that there are so many diverse roles within the NHS,” she explains. “Perhaps because they're not aware this [can be] an entry point that can take them through a very fulfilling career with many different opportunities.”

The NHS and Indeed focused on skills-based hiring as a main strategy to increase applicant flow. Outdated recruiting systems with qualification-stacked job descriptions may discourage job seekers from applying, despite their skills. Shifting recruitment focus from requirements to abilities opens opportunities to candidates who were previously overlooked.

Indeed created a customized sourcing, screening and scheduling solution to fit the medical service’s needs, which took a large part of the workload off of the NHS recruitment team. Sourcing began with sponsored job advertisements aimed at potential candidates with varied backgrounds to diversify the talent pool, as well as hundreds of webinars to better target this new audience.

Once applicants responded to the ads, Indeed’s team conducted screening interviews, assessing candidates based on criteria aligned with the NHS recruitment team but also on skills and abilities beyond medical work experience. Viable candidates moved forward to interviews that Indeed scheduled for NHS recruiters, which were held at large-scale, in-person and virtual hiring events across all seven regions of England.

Fox describes these events as a “one-stop shop” because individuals were screened in advance, meaning that when they arrived, they could learn more about the role, interview and receive a job offer all on the same day, expediting the recruitment process.

“This is critically important because we are working in a very competitive market,” Fox says. ”Since things have opened up following COVID, many of our healthcare support workers could be also attracted to [other industries, such as] the hospitality industry.”

Anyone Can Care

Rabiu Ala Harana is currently a healthcare support worker. Previously, he worked as an assistant head of human resources in Nigeria and came to the UK to earn a master’s degree in business administration from York St. John University.

Before coming across the NHS hiring events, Ala Harana says the greatest challenge in his job search was his perceived inexperience. “Most of the times when I applied, I didn’t get an invitation for an interview because [there was] not enough on my CV and the certifications to show that I've had the background of skills needed to carry out [the job],” he explains.

Ala Harana was drawn to the healthcare sector due to his natural ability and desire to assist people in need. “A majority of the people do come from the interest point of view first, apart from the qualifications,” he says.

At the hiring event, NHS and Indeed staff provided light coaching to make the applicants feel comfortable and supported. “They guided us through a lot of the questions [to expect],” says Ala Harana. “We were just talking without a formal interview and they shook hands with me and said congratulations, I got the job.” He says it was the easiest process he’s ever seen.

Hiring a Diverse Workforce is Essential

The events drew tens of thousands of attendees, culminating in 4,000 job offers, with 40% of hires new to patient care. With this collaboration, Indeed helped the NHS expand their recruitment process to people from other backgrounds.

“Hiring a diverse workforce is essential,” Fox says. “It's important that the workforce represents the patients and the clients that they're caring for, thus providing [them] with excellent care.”