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In health care, passion counts along with skill

Benchmark Senior Living’s Timothy Reilly.

Benchmark Senior Living’s Timothy Reilly.

With 4,500 employees across the six New England states, Benchmark Senior Living, which provides elderly care and operates assisted living communities, now has 185 job openings including overnight weekend concierge, housekeeper, registered and licensed practical nurses, and activity programming assistant.

In addition to having jobs available, Benchmark Senior Living was nominated by its employees and named in 2013 as one of the Globe’s Top Places to Work. Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji spoke with Timothy Reilly, vice president of human resources, about opportunities in health care and his company.

There are lots of different vocations at Benchmark Senior Living. What role do you hire the most candidates for?

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We have the greatest need for resident care associates — also known as CNA [certified nursing aide] or personal care assistants. They are about half of our total employee roster. Some of these positions are more challenging to fill than others. Communities that lack good access to public transportation may have more openings.

Are you finding there is a shortage of other health care personnel as well?

Finding enough nurses is always difficult. Lots of nurses are retiring these days, and there’s not the huge influx of younger workers to compensate for all the nurses leaving the workforce. We will definitely consider someone who is a new graduate.

Are you using social media sites such as LinkedIn as recruiting tools?

We’re leveraging LinkedIn as well as Indeed, TweetMyJobs; we also tried Facebook. In addition, we do print media, including regional and local papers. We also post with special niche groups such as Military.com and industry-specific job boards like ALFA [Assisted Living Federation of America].

What do you look for in applicants?

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I look for people who are passionate about working with seniors and taking care of their needs. It’s possible to teach policies and procedures, but instilling motivation and enthusiasm is another thing. For our memory impaired units in particular, it also helps to have expertise in working with dementia and memory loss.

What’s the best way for folks to get a foot in the door at Benchmark?

I’d suggest visiting a community nearest you. We often do weekly group interviews to discuss our hiring process and various employment opportunities. It also always helps to know someone in the organization. We take referrals very seriously; it’s our number one source for new hires. It’s very true that good employees refer good people. So the power of networking really exists. 

Cindy Atoji Keene can be reached at cindy@cindyatoji.com.
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