Improving NHS clinical candidate attraction: A five step guide

Many NHS trusts come to us looking to attract more permanent clinicians to their trust. Though they are aware of the problems they face, it can often feel like an insurmountable task when faced with the prospect of the NHS healthcare staffing crisis. Rather than relying on a short-term approach, we advocate for the adoption of strategically driven candidate attraction methods that rely on data and insight in order to improve key recruitment metrics.

Below, we share five candidate attraction secrets that have contributed to our HSJ award-winning approach.


1. You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Many of our clients come to us armed with the knowledge that they are struggling with candidate attraction and yet they don’t have access to the data that would tell them why this is. Where trusts typically don’t measure key metrics such as cost-per-hire, time-to-hire or at which stage of the process candidates typically drop out, there is consequently no understanding of where internal recruitment teams need to improve in order to drive better outcomes.

If your team are grappling with the challenges of candidate attraction but are unable to access the data-driven insights in order to pin down the root cause, then our account management team can help. Their expertise lies in consulting NHS trusts to build and implement data-driven, best-practice recruitment processes in order to improve efficiency and lower overall recruitment costs.

2. Source outside the box

Before they came to Remedium, many of our clients relied solely on posting their clinical vacancies to NHS Jobs. We have nicknamed this strategy ‘post and pray’, because our experience has shown us that this alone will result in only modest candidate attraction gains. With hundreds of applications coming from unqualified applicants, we know that the NHS Jobs process can be time-consuming for all involved, but more worryingly, we have found that this means good candidates will often get missed. Furthermore, with everyone advertising for their hard-to-fill roles in the same place, the best clinicians will have no incentive to favour your trust.

Therefore, we encourage our clients to think outside the box in order to gain access to wider pool of candidates. For instance, by undertaking a strategic sourcing approach, NHS trusts can build and maintain networks of international clinicians who are currently working towards gaining their PGQs. This means that, once the candidate is ready, your trust will gain access to qualified candidates for shortage occupations ahead of the rest of the market.

One way Remedium does this is by running international projects. This award-winning proposition allows our clients to visit overseas locations with Remedium in order to assess international clinicians directly at source, helping them to overcome the challenge of recruiting doctors in shortage occupations and providing clinicians with an incentive to favour your trust.

3. Employment branding

In order to stand out from the crowd, NHS trusts need to be able to succinctly and persuasively communicate the benefits of working for them to potential candidates. For instance, perhaps your trust has a world-class training programme or is situated in a desirable residential location. Before they came to us, many of our clients thought that the only way to communicate their employment brand was to create a recruitment video. While this is helpful, a true brand strategy will go beyond far beyond this. We support our clients to build genuine employee value propositions and to create compelling stories as to why you are an employer of choice. We then make this story the centre of all communications with candidates, for instance by redesigning the content on your careers site, improving job descriptions and by engaging current employees as brand ambassadors who actively will share your message.

4. Conference and event attendance

Before coming to us, many of our clients relied purely on posting jobs online. However, successful clinicians are naturally busy people and do not necessarily spend their time browsing jobs boards. This is especially the case at consultant level and for hard-to-fill specialties, as these candidates are fully aware of their market value and do not need to actively look for jobs. Therefore, we consult all our clients that reaching these candidates in appropriate offline spaces is just as important as online job posting.

This is where Remedium’s executive search team comes into its own. We attend prestigious events and conferences across all our specialties, both domestically and abroad, meaning that we are able to build real-world networks and relationships with senior-level consultants in hard-to-fill specialities who might not have otherwise considered pursuing a new role.

5. Referrals

In a crowded market, a good reputation will speak for itself and this is especially true when it comes to clinicians. We have found that our doctors often know one another and they will happily recommend good trusts to their friends and family. Therefore, if you have a positive recruitment process and your trust is a considered to be a good place to build a long-term career, then you will attract referrals.

However, rather than allowing this process to happen in the background, the trusts who enjoy the most successful referral schemes track and manage the process and will incentivise their existing workforce to recommend others. In 2018, 36% of our successful clinical placements were referred to Remedium by previous candidates, demonstrating our reputation for excellent candidate care and aftercare. Our account management team draws upon this experience of managing our own successful word of mouth scheme in order to support our clients to do the same.


If you are an NHS recruitment leader who is looking to improve your candidate attraction strategy, Remedium are here to help. Contact our team today to find out how our market-leading consultative approach can help you to measure, build and implement better candidate attraction strategies based on data-driven insights.

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