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Many practice owners approach the hiring process with dread. Too often, hiring is a reactive endeavor: a position opens unexpectedly, and owners scramble to fill that vacancy as quickly as possible, making an offer to the first seemingly “right” (or “right enough”) candidate. Weeks or months later—after spending precious dollars and hours in recruiting and training—it becomes clear the fit isn’t right at all.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Creating a system for hiring enables you to weed out wrong-fit candidates before their resumes hit your inbox. Even better, you’ll attract and retain the right staff for your practice—people with skills, characteristics, values, and goals that align with your business.
Hiring is a multi-step process. Let’s take a closer look at the first step in that process: recruitment.
Recruiting is marketing
Just as you market your practice to clients, when recruiting new staff, you need to market your practice to candidates. Hiring clinical professionals can be especially challenging. In the case of physical therapists, there are significantly more clinical positions that need staffing than there are qualified physical therapists to fill them.
But a marketing approach to recruitment is important to attracting outstanding, right-fit candidates for all positions in your practice, whether clinical or administrative. In today’s competitive hiring landscape, it’s essential to differentiate your business, to know what you offer and who you’re looking to attract—and to communicate those messages in compelling, original language.
Smart recruiting often requires a shift in mindset. Owners frequently fall into the trap of thinking about employees primarily as expense lines on a profit-and-loss report. That mentality will hurt you in the hiring process—and far beyond, when you’re saddled with an employee who can’t deliver what you need. Start your mindset shift by thinking of recruiting and hiring as marketing your business. The same effort, thought, and care you put into attracting clients should go into attracting A-list talent.
Lighthouse recruitment: a process of discovery
Recruiting starts with discovery: about what you’re really looking for in a candidate, and about your business itself.
Step 1: Create your vision
Even if you think you know what your business is about, take the time to create a vision statement. It shouldn’t be long or complicated, but it ought to go to the very core of what your company about. A vision of your business includes your organization’s values, mission, and over-arching goals. Your vision for your business should communicate—clearly and powerfully—what your company stands for.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. A strong vision is critical to your ability to attract the right people to your business—and to keep them. Research shows employees who find meaning in their company’s vision demonstrate dramatically higher levels of engagement than employees who don’t.
Next, envision the ideal candidate for the position. Make a list of the skills and characteristics needed to be successful in the position. We all want to attract A-players to our business. What makes an A-player? In my view, every A-player has three core characteristics:
- Appropriate skill level
I consider being coachable most important. You can inspire passion, and you can encourage skill-development. Finding employees already open to training and mentoring allows you to create a cohesive team who will work together to fulfill the vision of your business.
Step 2: Craft your message
The advertisement you create is your opportunity to tell your story, so make the most of it. Many people do a cut-and-paste job, cribbing the language for their ad from others they’ve seen published. This does nothing to distinguish your practice, or to attract the top-flight candidates. Your ad should resonate with a distinctive voice that represents you and your business, with clarity and emotion that convey your vision.
Who is your target audience?
Just as you develop targeted messages for prospective clients, you can identify your target audience of candidates, and speak directly and specifically to them. Just as the way you communicate with long-distance running community is different than with weekend joggers, you’ll use a different message with prospective clinical directors than with new grads you’re recruiting as associates on your clinical staff.
What will attract that audience to you?
Employees, like patients, want to be seen, listened to, and understood. They also have pain points: professional goals that aren’t being met, and challenges they’re facing in their current jobs. People who are fulfilled in their current positions aren’t looking to make a move. What does your practice offer to prospective employees to address professional pain points? Professional development and mentorship? A flexible schedule? Management responsibility?
The answers to these questions become the building blocks of your pitch to prospective hires.
Step 3: Get your message out
Too often, business owners place an ad in a single location, hoping it will somehow reach the perfect candidate. Getting your message out means going where your audience is, using diverse mediums, and being creative. Indeed.com is an important place to start—but it’s not the only place to reach your talent pool:
- Use professional association websites. Both the American Chiropractic Association and the American Physical Therapy Association have career centers where you can post openings.
- Don’t forget about state and local association chapters
- Purchase lists from in-state or local associations and do an old-school mailing
- Get the word out via your patient list. This is a great way to mine for candidates and let your clients know your business is thriving and growing.
- Put signs up in your practice
- Incentivize your staff to recruit for you. Your staff can be an invaluable resource: good people know good people. Create an in-house program to reward and recognize staff for bringing on new hires.
Next, we’ll look at the qualification process: how to effectively weed through resumes and engage with candidates, on your way to the perfect hire.