Recruitment success: getting clear on your ‘who’


A man with friends and support workers

A man with friends and support workers

Our previous blog on this issue started ‘at the end’ or on tips to get clear on the purpose of paid support. We recommended this as a first step in successful recruitment. For starters, working out purpose can then really help to nail the characteristics you are looking for in people. Once you know the kind of people you are looking for, then it is far easier to figure out where to look for them. After that, you can think about the best methods to reach those people.

Put together, this is a 4 step process of WHAT (purpose) WHO (characteristics), WHERE and HOW (methods to recruit)

So in this piece we will focus on Characteristics. That is, being clear about WHO it is you are looking for.

Start by thinking about the importance to you of any, or all of these categories below.

What makes the person tick – personal qualities, values and vision

Many people say this is the most important thing to think through. This is about the kind of person you are looking for. It is always better when the person shares your vision. So what are your values and vision?

Skills & attributes

These are abilities that show the person can apply knowledge in a practical way to get something done. This could include work skills they have learned elsewhere that they can use in this job. These might be things such as leadership, communication, problem solving, initiative & enterprise, team work, planning & organising.

Technical and professional skills

What do you hope they come with?

Do professional skills and qualifications matter to the role?

What training do you want them to undertake?

Shared interests and hobbies

Depending on the purpose of the role, shared interest might be a definite pre-requisite. No point wanting to get involved in your local indie music scene, for example, and not seeking someone who is going to lap that up and know what to do and how to be in that context.

Even if the purpose of the role is not as specific as this, looking for commonality of interest makes life easier. Liking the people who support you is very important.

Click here to read how Carolyn Campbell-McLean creates her dream team.

 Matching purpose and characteristics in a (real life) example

Robbie is 27 and about to move into his own apartment in the city for the first time. The apartment is being rented from an extended family member who wanted to help by offering this opportunity. The vision is for Robbie to have a housemate. The apartment has lots of great qualities and some down sides. For example, while it is two bedroom it is quite small. Robbie and his immediate family decided that they couldn’t let the opportunity go, but they are worried about whether living with someone will be sustainable. This is also because while much of what support Robbie needs is known, a lot is also to be discovered. Robbie will have some additional paid support workers at different times, but the housemate role is really crucial.

Robbie is a conscientious man who likes to please people. He is a gentleman. He has an incredible memory for people, places, events and television shows. He also loves classical music, old movies, walking, trains and boats (especially old ones). He works, attends a day program and also volunteers. He can feel quite anxious at times, although he doesn’t want to be, and benefits from patience, empathy, people who see his potential beyond this and provide guidance in times when he is struggling to see past the anxiety.

Robbie’s support team decided to create a 6 month paid live-in role. The purpose of the role is to

  • Help Robbie adjust and provide companionship – enjoying time together and looking out for each other
  • Create an inviting home – joining with Robbie to create a pleasant, and comfortable home together, sharing meals, thinking about ensuring that Robbie’s day-to-day home life is prepared and planned for with tasks such as food and shopping and ensuring that the home is well cared for
  • Provide mentoring in some areas of home life
  • Build understanding of the longer term support structure – join with his family and support crew understand what kind of support Robbie needs and when across the week. In the longer term, when might a housemate have a role, when family and friends and when might paid support workers have a role?
  • Building understanding of the future housemate role – join with his family and support crew understand what a longer term (subsidised) housemate role might look like. Contribute to answer this question: ‘how will it work best for a housemate and Robbie ongoing?’

What do you think are the values, qualities, skills and shared interests needed?

What kind of person would be good in this role? Try and visualise this person.

Now you can start to think about WHERE you might find such a person and what methods you might use to attract them (HOW).

Want to learn more? Click here to join our next online session on December 9th to learn successful recruitment strategies from people in the know!

Click here to hear what a participant has said about our sessions.


  1. Margaret Ward says

    Thank you for an insightful, well-presented, useful and grounded presentation. It was most useful to me as a researcher; I hope it was equally helpful to people with disability and families who are engaging their own staff.
    Keep up the good work!

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