The Caregiver Shortage

A caregiving company was having extremely high turnover and couldn't find quality applicants through job hiring sites.

Miguel Facussé
April 19, 2024

At this point all their efforts were producing low quality applicants which only further contributed to their high turnover. I was brought on to analyze their website, job postings, and advertising.

I don’t know how much money they spent on their efforts, but one look at their content and I knew they’d fallen into the same trap as so many others. First, they were the Gray Man. I couldn’t have picked them out of a crowd of competitors if I tried. Their job postings were not only bland, but they lacked any language that could create connection with applicants. They highlighted their pay structure, benefits, awards they won, hours, and so on. Their choice of language in their messaging was “caring person” and “compassion.” While those are buzzwords, they’re also not specific or enticing. If you asked ten people walking down the street to give their definition of those words, you could easily get ten different answers.

I would’ve skipped right over their post if I were looking for a job. There’s nothing to connect with or pique a candidate's interest. Also, they become even more unremarkable if a few companies offer better pay, benefits or working hours. With this strategy, their destination isn’t successful because they’re competing against large organizations with more resources.

They are a caregiving company with a pitch about money and benefits while remaining very vague on the kind of people they hoped to employ. They’re operating in a space where a worker's purpose is greater than their pay. You’re asking them to care for another human in the final stage of their life so I don’t think a person motivated by benefits or their own material gain is a good fit.

I knew they weren’t standing out and clearly looked like every other competitor, but what do I know about caregiving? I didn’t know what motivated a caregiver or the traits that would set them up for success.

This realization is usually where a marketing agency would punt by employing a successful strategy from their playbook. Even more likely, it’s a successful strategy from another industry they “adapt” to your industry.  There are zero guarantees that strategy will be effective in a market requiring a very specific candidate to be successful.

So I did the one thing I knew would point me down the right path towards success.

I listened.

Instead of listening to the company executives or management, I listened to the people that had the most knowledge on the subject: the current caregivers.

The company set-up two calls with two of their best caregivers. I needed to understand what motivated them to be a caregiver. I mean, the job isn’t easy so there had to be an intrinsic force unseen to everyone else.

I have immense respect and gratitude for those women for their honesty, humility, transparency, and strength. After those two calls and copious notes, there were obvious intersecting points that would’ve gone unnoticed without listening.

Their stories were harrowing. The women immigrated to the United States and had experienced the faults and horrors of the current systems. Both in their 30’s, they didn’t choose caregiving as a profession, but landed in the field because they cared for their own sick or elderly family members.

They discovered purpose through the love of family. A sick mother fighting cancer for a third time finding minimal care or compassion within a hospital. A grandmother that helped raise her, but needed around the clock care though the family didn’t have the financial resources for such a service. Their family wanted privacy and didn’t trust outsiders to care for their loved ones.

Both families required financial help and toiled within the confusing and slow gears of government assistance for over a year. During that time, they were trying to work, go to school, and care for their family. Interestingly during the interview, neither of them knew that caregiving could be a profession so they were completely unaware they were developing critical skills.

After these emotional and enlightening conversations, I had a greater appreciation for caregivers, personal or professional, all around the world. This feeling and connection as I listened provided a clear path for the caregiving company’s job posting. Through my listening, I created an aspirational character (a hero) with the ideal mix of traits for success.

The company was looking for applicants with the following core traits:

  • Very close and regular contact with someone they already care for (parent, sibling, grandparent, etc.)
  • Self-sacrificing. Willing to put their needs aside to prioritize someone else’s needs.
  • A sincere desire at their core to help people. A key purpose to their existence.
  • A desire to be appreciated and recognized for their contributions.
  • A unique combination of characteristics, like patience, kindness, work ethic, compassion, etc.

These points formed the core of the company’s new job postings. Everything was turned into a voice over advertisement focusing on these main points. The whole process from interviews to finished advertisements took a week.

The new campaign was “You may not already know it yet, but you may already be a caregiver.” This line extended an empathetic ear to people that didn’t realize life’s rollercoaster ride had provided them with marketable skills. The best candidates didn’t set out to be caregivers, but we’re asked to care for family or friends which potentially derailed their plans for higher education or a different career path.

This campaign was empathetic at its core. This line sees those people. A parent, a grandparent, a sibling, or another family member got sick, suffered an accident or just got old and my heroes stepped in. They shelved aspirations and dreams to fulfill a duty to their family members. They put the needs of others before their own. The women I interviewed made those same choices and the new campaign proved there were a lot more people out there waiting to be seen, acknowledged, and listened to.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

The results were clear:

  • CPA reduction from $1000 to $25
  • Conversion rate from lead to signed employee of 50%

Within a few days the company contacted me to take down the postings because they were receiving more applications than they could handle! This success came from listening to others and empathizing with their experiences.

Empathetic listening lays the foundation for successful critical thinking.