If every unemployed person in the United States today had a job, there would still be 3 million unfilled roles, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the same time, home care agencies get anywhere from dozens to thousands of applicants each week to their positions. Glassdoor says there are about 250 applicants to an open position on average. The fact is, there are millions of people across the country applying for caregiver jobs every month. 

It makes for a very confusing problem: Why are there so many unfilled roles and, at the same time, so many applicants to your jobs? 

Top agencies in the industry today know how critical this issue is to the care they provide. Take Kevin Smith, CEO, Best of Care Inc., in Massachusetts. His agency has been in business for over 43 years, employs over 450 caregivers and is hiring on a daily basis. “Our agency gets a high volume of inquiries each week, but only a very small percentage are serious about or eligible to work with our agency,” he said, continuing, A key to responsibly enhancing our recruiting process has been finding ways to ensure only qualified candidates are served up to our HR team.” 

Smith added, “It’s not only focusing on the right applicants that has enhanced our recruiting processes. It’s the speed with which a caregiver moves from the application stage to their first shift in a client’s home speaks to our agency’s understanding of the caregiver marketplace.”

In this article, we’re going to share some of the theories and the data behind them, busting some myths along the way!

But first, home care is a $129.9 billion market and employs a wide swath of the American workforce. However, there is, demographically speaking, a typical caregiver employed today. According to PHI National

  • 90% of home care workers are women.
  • The median age of a caregiver is 45. 
  • People of color comprise more than 50% of the home care workforce. 

Now, let’s get to myth-busting:

Myth: Applicants are serial unemployment filers. Some home care agency operators have said they believe applicants keep applying to show they’re trying to get a job for unemployment benefits purposes.

Fact 1: According to the U.S. Department of Labor on Oct 6, 2023, the most likely demographic unemployed today are people between 16-24 years old (9.4%), who are the least likely to be caregivers.

Fact 2: The least likely demographic to be on unemployment benefits are women aged 45-54 (2.5%), who are the more likely to be caregivers, DOL said.

Truth: So is applying for unemployment theory true?  Only kind of true.  The statistics above are showing that there’s a very low unemployment rate for women over 45.

Myth: There is home care attrition because of employees looking for better pay or an easier job at places like Walmart or Amazon. 

This is a complicated question because it touches on whether or not home care work pays enough. And whether or not the quality of the job is high-enough to keep top talent interested in caregiver positions.

Fact 1: Money is only one reason people leave their jobs (across all industries). Pew Research found that the No. 1 reason people leave their job is for more money. But the No. 2 and 3 reasons are no advancement opportunities and feeling disrespected at work.  

Fact 2: Home care has lower turnover and a higher reputation than other jobs that pay similarly. Home care agency turnover has hovered around 65%. Meanwhile, fast food job turnover is over 140% and Amazon warehouse turnover is more than 150%. Being a nurse is the most trusted profession in our society and caregivers have a clear career trajectory should they choose to take advantage of it (caregiver becomes CNA becomes LPN becomes RN and so on).

The Augusta team personally interviewed more than 100 caregiver applicants who told us that caregiving jobs offer an opportunity to build a relationship with an older adult and feel valued. Delivery jobs for example can be physical and stressful because of delivery quotas and don’t offer any advancement opportunities.

Truth: Pay factors into why employees leave. But with the right benefits package, you can mitigate it by targeting applicants who want to feel valued, who want advancement opportunities and who want to build relationships with older adults. This will enable you to compete with other industries with similar pay and educational requirements.

Myth: It’s common to lose an applicant to another agency (therefore, speed to hire is critical). Some operators believe that they just don’t get to the “good” applicants quickly enough.

Fact 1: 57% of applicants today expect to hear back about the position they applied for within one week.

Fact 2: Within a top home care franchise network, operators have reduced their time from application to hire only 4.7 days. 

Truth: Speed to hire is a real thing. If your hiring process is taking longer than about one  week, you’re not meeting expectations of the applicant and are moving slower than the top agencies.

Myth: Caregivers are spammed with job opportunities. Operators have noticed that caregivers get a huge volume of job ads and job offers sent to them. Because of this, applicants don’t read the job descriptions and don’t apply to jobs thoughtfully.

Fact 1: There are over 415 million spam texts sent to Americans every day. It’s why there are new laws such as the TRACED Act requiring opt-in to robo-call and automated text services. Text-based solutions for caregiver recruiting have made this problem worse. 

Fact 2: Job boards are the source of 41% of where current employees found their position.

Fact 3: Job boards typically recommend that each applicant plan to apply to 10 to 15 jobs per week

Fact 4: Job boards typically go to great lengths to ensure that applicants just keep applying to jobs. (Examples: Spam emailing, scrounging up old job postings to entice applicants, making “one-click” apply options).

Truth: You are losing applicants to the spam cycle of job offers. If all this data doesn’t convince you, apply to jobs as a caregiver and you’ll be spammed every single day, guaranteed. 

Jen Waldron is one of the co-founders of Augusta Home Care Recruiting. She started working in the senior care industry in 2009 as a professional caregiver in a memory care community. Since then she has been an executive supporting thousands of home care agencies and other senior care businesses through software solutions. Augusta is an innovative software company designed entirely for home care. The platform gets caregivers to show up to interviews through inspiring confidence in the applicant, speed to hire and identifying top talent.