How We Demonstrate Our Values Throughout the Recruitment Process

“I have never had a recruitment experience like this. Even though I was not successful, I want to tell you that you now know more about me than my own manager. It was a brilliant process.”
“I have been telling my friends and family about the recruitment process. You should expect some of them to contact you to apply!” 
One of the books in my bookcase is called Raving Fans, and it describes the power of trying to create an experience for people that turns them into fans and advocates of an organisation. I can’t quite say our process creates Raving Fans—that feels too American and too far—but it is certainly moving in that direction.
This represents my ambition for the recruitment experience: firstly, that we are truly authentic and people can see us living our values, and secondly, that we create an experience for people that makes them feel and talk positively about us. 
Values-based recruitment is an intentional process in two ways:


  1. We consciously demonstrate our values as an organisation
  2. We create a recruitment process where candidates are able to demonstrate, not just talk about, their values. This enables us to discover who has values that align with Wellbeing Teams.
Our challenge was to consciously connect to our values and create a recruitment process where every word, every stage, every sequence, every interaction is designed to make those values shine through. This is very ambitious, and we are not there yet. Every recruitment process is an opportunity to keep improving.
Here are some examples of how each of our values is demonstrated in the process:
  • We start the process with a conversation and an opportunity to ask questions.
  • We invite people to share what matters to them through a one-page profile, and this communicates that we want people to bring their whole selves to work.
  • A one-page profile includes how to support the person at work. Therefore, we demonstrate that we want to know how to support team members well.
  • We share what matters to the recruitment team that organises the workshop, and share members’ one-page profiles as part of the recruitment pack. In this way, the members of the recruitment team are introduced as people, not as anonymous professionals. This also recognises that applying for a job is stressful, and we are trying to give everyone a chance to feel at ease and be at their best.
  • We do what we say we will do. At the end of the first phone call, we explain what people can expect, and we make sure we do what we say we will do. For example, we agree on when we will phone everyone back to give them feedback (not just the successful applicants).
  • The recruitment workshop is delivered by a team. The team usually includes the Wellbeing Leader, a team member, someone we support, and a Co-production Partner. The Co-production Partner is someone who has experience in our services (e.g. an older person or a carer). 
  • The What-if and Values cards reflect our curiosity about who people are as individuals.
  • We send a SurveyMonkey to everyone who attended the recruitment workshop to ask about their experience so that we can keep learning and improving. We ask about what worked and did not work for each stage of the recruitment process and for their suggestions of how we can improve.
  • The venue for the recruitment workshop is decorated with fresh flowers, bunting, treats, and music to create an environment that promotes creativity.
  • The range of activities and processes used in the recruitment workshop process is an example of creativity.
  • When the workshops are on Zoom, we demonstrate a range of creative approaches.
  • We share our approach to wellbeing and flourishing at work through the design of the process. 
  • Flourishing includes bringing your whole self to work, which is why we ask for and share our own one-page profiles. The recruitment team shares what matters to them (and their wellbeing) in the introductions at the workshop.
Creating moments and developing loyalty
We want to go further than using a recruitment process that demonstrates our values; we want to create moments—a wow factor. This both allows us to live our values of creativity and flourishing and is an intentional marketing strategy where even people who are not successful in the recruitment process can talk positively about it and us (back to trying to create our version of Raving Fans).
We were inspired by the book The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. They talk about creating a memorable moment for people that is ‘social media worthy’ or something they would tell their family about. We have intentionally created several of these throughout the team member experience—from recruitment onwards. I think that creating ‘wow’ moments and thinking in terms of the team members’ experience is also part of creating loyalty. 
One of the reasons people stay in their jobs is because of loyalty to the organisation.
We also know that only one in ten people is engaged at work. In social care, about 70% of people leave one social care organisation for another, hoping for a better experience at work. Skills for Care suggests that the cost of replacing each new care worker is £3642, and their research shows that some of the main reasons care workers stay in their job is because they have a strong sense of loyalty to their employer. Creating moments—from recruitment onwards—is a way of creating strong loyalty to the organisation and also of demonstrating that our organisation is different. If colleagues can see and feel that our organisation is special, it reduces the likelihood of churn, but better than that, it makes it more likely that they will recommend us to friends and neighbours as a great place to work.
None of the examples listed below sound extraordinary, but we hope that it is the consistency of our approach and the sum total of these experiences that makes a difference.
Examples of small actions that create loyalty
  • First impressions count. In traditional recruitment, candidates are sent a time and date for an interview that suits the organisation. We demonstrate that we are different by inviting candidates to choose a time that works for them and works for the person having the conversation. This is an important first impression to make; it shows that we value their time by finding a time that works for both of us.
  • Our application pack includes the one-page profiles of the recruitment team, so candidates learn about what matters to us as well as being invited to create their own one-page profile to bring to the workshop.
  • Candidates that are put through to the workshop receive a personal text from me (if I am part of the workshop) or the Wellbeing Leader.
  • We set the stage for the Recruitment Workshop like theatre, with posters, bunting, flowers, biscuits, and a warm welcome. We try to create an environment that says, ‘You matter.’
  • One of the roles in the recruitment team is to greet and welcome people and make them tea or coffee.
  • Before the workshop starts, we arrange a time to phone and provide feedback at a mutually convenient time. This is usually within two days of the recruitment workshop.
  • There are team prizes for some of the exercises.
  • After the workshop, people are sent an anonymous SurveyMonkey to give us feedback on how we have done at each stage of the recruitment process. We ask what has worked and not worked and how we could improve. We show that we value their reflections.
  • We use psychometric testing designed for Wellbeing Teams. We send this to candidates who have not been successful, as it has ideas for how they could develop for the future.
Value-based recruitment is more than talking about values
Value-based recruitment is usually seen as a way of including value-based conversations in interviews. At Wellbeing Teams, we think it is about how we demonstrate our values as well as how we attract people who align with our purpose and values. I was recently asked to review the recruitment process for a provider organisation. I started with their values and purpose and used this as a lens to view each element of the recruitment process through the eyes of the candidate experience. The most striking omission was that, although the organisation values people having choice and control over their lives, there was no mention whatsoever of people who use their service. I suggested that in order to demonstrate their values, they needed to look at co-production at every stage of the recruitment process. 
Generation Z and Y are reportedly looking for purpose-driven and value-driven organisations to work for. I wonder how much candidates consciously consider the alignment of what an organisation says about itself and how it behaves in recruitment. How would your organisation appear to a discerning young person?
Caroline Disano
Head of HR, Certitude
Certitude is a leading social care provider delivering a range of person-centred services for adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs across London. We seek to attract colleagues who are looking to make a positive difference to those we support, who align with our purpose and live our values of Inspired by People, Working Together, Continuously Improving and Dependable, enabling those we support to live fulfilling lives.
We believe colleagues who share our values build effective teams leading to high quality person-centred care for those we support. Taking a values-based approach throughout the candidate journey is key for new colleagues to connect to Certitude from their first day, and we evaluate this with a survey after 100 days as part of our work to improve our processes alongside our commitment to continuous improvement.
Recruiting the right people is not easy, and there are no watertight solutions to ensure those who join will deliver on the skills and values they displayed during the selection process once in role. Taking a values-based approach improves the odds that we recruit colleagues who want something more from work, but for success to happen, values need to be embedded and modelled throughout the organisation. 
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