Using One-Page Profiles to Create a New Kind of Person-Specification

One-page profiles are a simple and powerful way to share information about ourselves. Over the past twenty years, we have used them with colleagues and with the people we support. My one-page profile tells you that I am learning calligraphy and podcasting. It shares how it is important to me to be part of my daughter’s yoga classes each week, and how much I value working with Michelle, Ben, and Emily. Walking by the sea in North Wales matters to me as well as growing things in my garden-cum-yard. My one-page profile also shares what people tell me that they appreciate about me: that I am thoughtful, supportive, brave, and determined.
We use one-page profiles to share who we are and what matters to us under three headings on one page. The headings are:
  • What do people appreciate about you?
  • What matters to you?
  • What support do you need to be at your best? 
Our values are threaded through it like lettering in a stick of rock. Sharing them with each other is one of the ways that we bring our whole selves to work. 
We introduce one-page profiles at the start of the recruitment process. We also use the three headings of a one-page profile in our recruitment materials to explain who we are looking for.
How do you describe who you are looking for?
In services, this is known as the person specification, and traditionally, it specifies what qualifications and experiences are needed for a role. It is usually split into two: essential qualifications and experience, and desirable ones. 
In values-based recruitment, we describe who we are looking for in relation to their values and characteristics instead of simply their experience and qualification. We frame our description of who we are looking for using the headings of a one-page profile, but instead of calling it a one-page profile, we ask, “Could this be you?”
The first two headings are:
  • What are people likely to appreciate you for? 
  • What is likely to matter to you?
In these columns, we make suggestions about what people are likely to appreciate about you and what is likely to matter to you if you are aligned with our purpose and values. A one-page profile has a third column about the support you need to be at your best. In this part of the one-page profile for recruitment, we describe the support that we will provide for them to excel in the role.
Who are you looking for? What are their values?
We are careful about the language that we use so that it reflects the values of Wellbeing Teams without simply restating the value words and descriptions in ways that are either obvious or sound forced.
What people admire about you
You are warm, friendly, reliable, full of energy, a great listener, flexible, a good problem-solver, helpful, honest, trustworthy, have a ‘can-do’ attitude, confident, self-motivated, caring, generous and kind.
We use some of the terms to describe our values and expand on them using different language. We are sensitive to words that may reinforce stereotypes—for example, we do not say ‘patient’ or ‘good sense of humour’. These are words you often see in adverts for roles supporting people with disabilities, and they suggest that if you are disabled, people need to have a good sense of humour to work with you and be more patient than you would expect for working with anyone else in the population. We value patience, but we use the word ‘kind’ instead for this reason.
What is likely to matter to people who align with our values and purpose? Here we look at   what might matter to people while balancing being general and specific. You can see a greater emphasis on our purpose (community, making a difference) and on bringing the whole person to work (looking for people with hobbies to share). We do not explicitly use the word ‘creativity’, as it is still associated with ‘good at art’, which is not what the value means.
What matters to you:
People: you are a people person. You love getting to know other people, spending time with people, and working as part of a team. You would describe your family, friends, and neighbours as very important in your life.
Your community: you enjoy knowing your local neighbourhood and being connected to what is happening locally—whether that is as a member of local groups or just by being in touch with your neighbours.
Making a difference: you love to know that you are making a difference in people’s lives and making a positive difference in the world, however small this may be.
Trying new things and being up for a challenge: you love having a go and trying something new, and are up for learning new technology and having variety in your life and work.
Being busy: you are not one for standing still or being bored. You love being on the go. You have lots of interests and hobbies.
Being flexible and using your initiative: you would hate to do exactly the same job in the same way every day and love variety, and you are a bit of a risk taker. (creativity)
Taking responsibility: you are happiest working in a supportive and connected team, making decisions together, and trying new ideas. (responsibility)
The ‘How we support you’ section reflects how we are trying to demonstrate our values and keep the promises that we make to the team. 
This is how we will support you to do a great job and make a difference:
  • You will be part of a small, self-organised team with no more than ten or eleven other people who you will get to know well.
  • You will spend time together to think, plan, and make decisions in team meetings every week.
  • We will provide you with the right training and support that you need to do this—brilliantly!
  • You will have a Wellbeing Workers’ Handbook that has all the information about being a self-organised team.
  • In your induction, your team will develop its own Person-Centred Team Plan—describing what matters to you as a team and how you will work together.
  • You will not have a traditional manager, but you will still have lots of support and direction and a Coach available to you when you need it.
  • You will have a buddy and coaching support to help you learn and develop in your role.
  • You will support each other on the team by getting and giving feedback to your colleagues. We will provide you with a process to help you do this so that you all feel justly proud of the service you provide and continue to grow, develop, and get better all the time.
We put this information on one page using the same layout as a one-page profile. We build familiarity with one-page profiles by then sending the recruitment team’s individual one-page profiles in the application pack. We ask candidates to do their own one-page profiles and bring them to the recruitment workshop. Later, successful applicants share their one-page profiles with the people they are supporting, threading 1PPs throughout our work.
How do you make sure that the information works for people who are new to care and self-management?
We made significant changes after I was asked in the first workshop whether the role involved personal care. In ‘Could this be you?’, we pay the same attention to making sure people know the position is not a traditionally managed service. Making a career change is scary. It is even more daunting if you don’t have any experience of the career you are considering. What does it feel like to deliver personal care? What could it be like to not have a boss and to work on a self-managed team? We didn’t get this right the first time, as I realised during our third recruitment workshop. 
One of the last sections of the workshop involves interviewing me, which we call reverse interviewing. After that, we try to get a sense of who would accept the role if offered it. I was particularly curious about one woman—who I will call Jemma—who had not worked in care before and had stood out in many of the exercises. We asked each person in turn to let us know if they would accept the role if offered it. I was listening for the excited “Hell Yes!!!” responses and was surprised when Jemma’s was a quiet “No, I don’t think so.”
As the recruitment team was tidying up and saying goodbye to candidates, I went over to her to ask her about her response.
She explained that it was the self-managing bit that she didn’t like, and that, as people were interviewing me, it became clearer and clearer to her exactly what that meant.
Although she said she had really enjoyed the session and was glad she had come, I was sorry that we had wasted her time. She should not have got through to the recruitment workshop stage without clearly understanding the implications of being on a self-managed team as much as possible without actually experiencing it. 
So, we went back to our role description and our ‘Could this be you?’ again and strengthened the references to self-management. 
We made another significant change, too: in the first conversation between the potential candidate and the team member, we now specifically talk about personal care and self-management and what these mean in practice. 
How our values are embedded in ‘Could this be you?’
We have embedded our values, and what they mean in practice, throughout the role description. Here is a summary:
How we refer to it within ‘Could this be you?’
We start with relationships—they are the first thing that we mention, and we specify what we mean by great relationships: respect, kindness, and generosity. These are all values that align with compassion. Self-compassion is part of our value of compassion, and we explicitly talk about paying attention to your wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the people you support and the team.
We stress this in several places by talking about managing your time well, making sure work is coordinated and effective, learning continuously, and talking about authority and autonomy in time management. We hope that you aren’t interested in this role if you do not align with our value of responsibility and you want a manager to tell you what to do. 
The most important collaboration is with the person receiving care themselves. We stress the importance of this in several places, starting with ‘whatever the person needs, when they need it, in the way they want it’, and we explicitly talk about working closely with the person’s family, friends, and service workers as well as that the number and time of the visits are decided with the person.
We talk about continuous learning and developing to improve how we work.
We specifically talk about creatively solving problems together. The role includes bringing your whole self to work, including your hobbies and interests—we want to hear about how the candidate expresses creativity in their life.
We are explicit about wellbeing and that our intention is to support candidates to pay attention to their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their team and the people they support.
The ‘Could this be you?’ and the role description from the previous blog were developed over four iterations as we learnt from candidates and their responses.
I am not sure if it matters that we use the headings of a one-page profile, although this makes it stand out from traditional person specifications. 
The best thing is that so many people tell us, “I could not believe that you were describing me!”
Sarah Maguire
Chief Executive, Choice Support
What are my reflections?
In the late 80’s when I was a support worker, at the time the long stay institutions were closing, there was a greater sense of clarity about what we were trying to achieve. We were often recruited because of the way we thought rather than our past experience. We believed that if we had the right attitude and values, the rest we could learn over time.
There was a simplicity that for me mirrors the ideas behind a one-page profile. I use the word simple to convey importance, focus and what really matters. One page profiles get us back to focusing on people rather than process. They help us think of ourselves as human beings, rather than ‘services’ workers. They help us to see connections and place a value on being who we are, not a version of ourselves that we bring to work.
Our work is about people and yet we can use language and practice that creates distance and sends the message that creativity is not wanted – just follow the rules. Our behaviour can be in direct conflict with values we talk about. A one-page profile can start to change this in meaningful and long-lasting ways. They help us to focus on not just what is important to us on a personal level but why. The why is what gets us closer to coming together to achieve individual and organisational purpose.
What does this mean for my organisation/the sector?

One-page profiles are a key part of the changes we are trying to make at Choice Support. We are trying to rethink what being a supporter means and how we share this with people who have never thought about coming to work alongside people before.  They are a way of showing our existing workforce that we value them and all their attributes and signal clearly that we want our staff to use them every day in their work with people.
There is a negative stereotype about what a support worker is and a lack of understanding about the work that we do by the public and by the communities we live and work in. One-page profiles can help us change that and connect with each other and our communities in ways that nurture a new understanding of what our work is and who can do it. They can help look in new places for people to join us; they can help us capture the imagination of people who had never considered supporting people or working in social care. Most importantly they help us rethink what communities are by rethinking who we are in relation to the people and places that we live and work. At a time when recruitment is the hardest it has ever been, this is critical for our sector. 

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