Reducing the delay between job offer and start date

Tips to streamline your recruitment process for young people and reduce the delay between job offer and start date.

27 June 2022

The average length of time a pre-employment programme participant needs to wait before commencing with an employer is 50-60 days. This can lead to a high drop-out rate as participants seek employment elsewhere. This guide aims to provide employers with tips on how to reduce the time from job offer to start date. It is based on feedback from young people and examples from NHS trusts.

The Prince’s Trust health and social care programmes enable you to provide a route into work for local young people who live in your community.

The We are the NHS: People Plan 2020/21 gives a clear commitment to increasing local recruitment and growing apprenticeships. Those who complete a pre-employment programme can become ideal candidates for entry-level jobs and apprenticeships.

Young people recruited through The Prince’s Trust pre-employment programme are often from vulnerable or less advantaged backgrounds and may have low confidence and self-esteem. Providing good support and a streamlined recruitment process can help them feel valued and part of the team even before they arrive. It sets their expectations of working in your organisation and helps build a connection.

Match the right local people to current vacancies

The Prince’s Trust is an expert at finding the right local young people with the right values for current vacancies.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust recruits young people through Prince’s Trust programmes into both clinical and non-clinical roles. The trust runs its programmes based on current vacancies. This ensures that on completion of a programme, jobs are available for those young people.

Reduce post-offer dropouts by keeping in touch

  • Introduce them to the team, either in person or over a video call, to connect them to the people they’ll be working with and build a sense of loyalty.
  • Offer an opportunity for them to ask questions and make them feel more comfortable about their first day.
  • Share a timetable for your new starters’ first day and week to help them visualise themselves in the role.
  • Send candidates postcards or updates to keep them engaged. The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust sends a series of three handwritten postcards from: the chief nurse, their ward leader and a colleague that they’ll be working with.
  • Create a closed Facebook group for new starters to engage with the team they will be working in.
  • Provide an idea of timescales and a regular update of progress.

Maximise opportunities at key touch points

  • Conditional offer
    Contact your new starter by telephone and agree how they would like to be contacted before their start date and how regularly. Explain the next steps of the employment process including how long it will be before they start.
  • Pre-employment checks
    Make the young people aware of these standards and the documentation they will need to provide if they are successful in securing a role. Recommend that the new starter contacts their referees to ask them to look out for reference requests.
  • Acceptable documentation
    If individuals are genuinely unable to provide any form of photographic personal identity, employers can request alternative documentation. For further information download the identity check standard.
  • Avoiding delays
    Give overarching responsibility for pre-appointment screening to one department to ensure consistency and avoid unnecessary delays in getting the successful candidate started in the workplace.
  • DBS Checks
    DBS application forms are often returned due to missing information or mistakes. This guide for applicants can be sent out to all candidates as part of the recruitment pack. 

Find answers and further information about NHS employment check standards in our employment checks FAQs

Set clear expectations

NHS Employers surveyed newly appointed healthcare support workers in the North East and Yorkshire region. The findings highlighted in this resource highlight the need to communicate clear expectations, along with actions organisations can take to improve the attraction, recruitment, support and career development for new healthcare support workers and others.  

Introduce online inductions

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust created an online induction package. Successful candidates are given a log-in to the platform with their offer letter where they can complete statutory mandatory training. For details read the full blog.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust developed a digital ‘new starter portal’ which allows new recruits to engage with the trust as soon as they are offered their new role. They can familiarise themselves with key information about their new place of work and its values to fully prepare for their new start.

Tips from three NHS trusts which have streamlined recruitment:

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust

  • You can listen to a special podcast or read about the actions of The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust to reduce start-time delay, including the move to recruit all young people on the Get Into Hospitals programme as volunteers during their work experience, in this inclusive recruitment resource.
  • This interactive career path finder tool produced by Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust offers a series of video tours showcasing what life is like in a hospital and the numerous roles needed to keep a busy hospital running. You can click on the 'i' in each video to find out more about the roles.

East Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

  • Employ a pre-employment co-ordinator to act as a single point of contact for young people. Our co-ordinator facilitates a taster day, helps complete paperwork, provides pastoral support and maintains contact.
  • Hold an allocated ‘paperwork day’ early in the programme to support young people to complete necessary documentation accurately.
  • Complete DBS and occupational health check paperwork prior to the commencement of work placements.
  • Recruit young people onto the staff bank if substantive posts are not available. This provides a stepping stone to a substantive post so they are ready to apply when a vacancy arises.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

  • Align The Prince’s Trust recruitment programme with current local recruitment drives and national strategies.
  • Hold a ‘taster day’ two weeks before the pre-employment programme begins to explain personal identity documentation and suitable reference requirements.
  • Make identity, DBS and reference checks on day two of the programme. Only the young people who have successfully provided these can continue.
  • Enable those who are offered a substantive post within six months of the pre-employment programme to use their original DBS certification.

 If you prefer, you can also download this content as a pdf: