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Assisted living communities have unique challenges when it comes to hiring. The best assisted living staff members aren’t just skilled in delivering quality care. They also create a warm and welcoming community for long-term residents. Here’s how to best search for your ideal assisted living staff. 

What to Ask Yourself Before You Begin the Search

What Roles Are You Looking For? 

Almost all assisted living communities face some kind of staffing shortage. In fact, 99% of skilled nursing facilities and 96% of assisted living communities reported being short-staffed in 2021. It can be overwhelming to begin a hiring search when it feels like you need more of everyone—physicians, nurses, CNAs. Even as you hire these roles simultaneously, you might have to prioritize. Where is your facility hurting the most right now? Use staff surveys to help you understand which departments are under the most stress, and where you should focus your efforts. 

What’s Your Budget? 

Competitive pay can help attract your ideal candidates, but raising salaries isn’t always possible. There are still ways you can stand out: only about 12% of job ads include a salary range, so being transparent can help you attract candidates. Being clear about what you can and can’t offer can help you find candidates who are the right fit for your assisted living staff. When you’re deciding your budget, make sure to take benefits into account. And remember, pay isn’t the only thing candidates look for. A healthy work culture is just as (or even more) important.

What Do You Value in a Candidate? 

Residents of assisted living communities stay a median of 22 months. Since residents often stay for months or years, it’s in your best interest to hire an assisted living community staff that is invested in the community. More Americans are choosing to age at home. To respond to this trend, assisted living communities need to create an environment where residents can feel at home. 

This starts with staffing. Assess your candidates on soft skills, such as interpersonal communication and bedside manner. Soft skills can be acquired, just like hard skills. Training and experience can help your candidates develop the skills they need to make your patients feel comfortable. A staff trained on soft skills can help you increase retention. 

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Seven Ways to Source the Best Candidates for Your Assisted Living Staff

Now that you know what you’re looking for in a candidate (and what you’re able to offer), it’s time to begin the search. Here are seven ways to help you find the best assisted living staff possible. 

1. Job Board Distribution 

Distributing to relevant job boards is a great way to attract candidates. Use SEO best practices to optimize your job posts. Even if you’re not an SEO expert, small changes can make your jobs much more visible.

Improve SEO in your job posts with the following tips:

  • Focus on relevant keywords (like “part-time,” “full-time,” and “CNA”). Include keywords at least five times in the job posting. 
  • Include the job title in the body and header
  • List core duties in simple, searchable words. Keep the list short. 
  • Include the minimum required education and experience level
  • Use common job titles, even if you internally refer to positions by a different name

2. In-House CNA Training 

Looking for CNAs? Set up an in-house training program to bolster your ALF staff. Trainees can easily become candidates, and a well-run program can boost your reputation in the community. CNA training also gives you an opportunity to introduce future candidates to your company culture very early in the hiring process. 

3. Connecting With Recent Graduates

Connect with local nursing programs and community colleges to source candidates for all your open positions. New graduates often look for work, and going straight to the source can help you decrease your time to hire. Connecting with past applicants can also help you cut down on hiring time. 

4. Employee Referral Programs

Employee referral programs can have staggering benefits. In fact, according to LinkedIn, candidates who are referred by current employees are 4x more likely to be hired. Offer your employees bonuses for successful referrals. Not only will this continue to save you money by cutting down on time-to-hire and hiring costs, it will also boost employee morale.

5. Boost Your Reputation

While competitive compensation and flexible benefits are important, they don’t negate the importance of a good reputation. Improving company culture for your current employees is a great way to increase the number of candidates interested in working for you. You’ll attract more candidates if you’re seen as a trustworthy employer. For more information, check out our tips for boosting your HR reputation

6. Use an ATS Designed for Healthcare

An ATS (applicant tracking system) can help you streamline your hiring process. In addition to applicant tracking, a platform like Apploi offers automated communication, easy texting, and effective job distribution to help you hire quickly without sacrificing the quality of your job search. 

7. Focus on Retention 

While there will always be hiring needs, prioritizing retention can alleviate some of the recruiting pressure. Focusing on retention now can make hiring easier in the long run. 

Here are a few strategies to improve your retention:

  • Offer flexible benefits
  • Improve your onboarding with more trainings, a new hire buddy system, and more opportunities to clarify duties
  • Check in with employees routinely to monitor for issues and burnout 
  • Listening to staff and communicating well are some of the best ways to prevent turnover. Explore additional tips to help you improve your staff retention.

Better Hiring With Apploi

Apploi’s streamlined hiring can help you easily find the best candidates for your assisted living staff. Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end talent management solution.


Melanie Boroosan

Over her six years in healthcare administration, Melanie has managed human resources, legal, compliance, payroll, and recruitment efforts at a corporate level. This oversight granted her a deep appreciation for the unique needs of healthcare managers, and for the direct ways that business operations affect the wellbeing of each employee. As Apploi’s Director of Healthcare Innovation, Melanie draws from her experience in healthcare HR and ancillary long-term care to pursue a vision of holistic healthcare staffing. Her work is rooted in the knowledge that great care begins with improving quality of life for all healthcare workers.