How to recruit for your health practice: The 3 biggest mistakes business owners make

Recruitment is a hot topic in the health space - it’s one of the subjects that allied health business coach, Cathy Love, gets asked about every day. Here, Cathy shares the three biggest mistakes that she sees practice owners make when hiring for their business, and how to fix them.

Cathy Love, Nacre Consulting ·

Recruitment is such a hot topic in the allied health space and it’s one of the subjects that I get asked about every day. Believe me, I’ve been there with my private practice, struggling to find the right clinicians and practice administrators and making a ton of mistakes along the way. But, I found a way through.

My purpose now is to make the business of business easier for allied health professionals. So, I want to share some very actionable tips, based on my extensive experience. Armed with these practical ideas you’ll be able to position yourself as an employer of choice - a ‘destination’ employer if you will.

So, let’s look at the top three mistakes that are holding you back right now, and how you can correct them.

1Having variable core confidence

By core confidence, I’m referring to your confidence in yourself as a business owner and team leader, as well as in your business itself. I’m talking about your complete, inside out, back to front, understanding of your business.

Your confidence in your abilities as a business owner really does impact your recruitment efforts - after all, applicants are looking for certainty and they’re looking for their prospective new boss to be a calm and confident manager.

Your lack of core confidence around your own abilities may be showing up in a number of ways. I like to call it the ‘wishy-washy syndrome’ where there are uncertainties that come across in the job ad, in the interview process, and in the onboarding process. It’s this vagueness that’s going to create doubt in the applicant's mind.

So, how can you fix this? Here are a couple of actionable tips to implement today:

a. Master the details

It’s super important to be completely crystal clear about the scope of the role that you’re advertising.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to get you started:

  • Have you met with your team to discuss what the business needs?
  • Do you know what level of clinician you need - for example, a new graduate, a junior, or a more senior clinician?
  • Do you know exactly what days and hours you’re hiring for? Are you clear on what you’ll need the new hire to do? Have you written a detailed position description?
  • Do you know what salary you can offer? Have you checked in with your accountant and your HR advisor to ensure you have the budget capacity for the hire?
  • Have you checked in with your legal advisors to discuss contracts?
  • Are you aware of your obligations as an employer, in terms of workplace health and safety, insurance, registration etc?

Having all these details mapped out will increase your confidence in your hiring decisions and, in turn, potential candidates’ confidence in your business.

b. Foster an 'always recruiting' mindset

I’m asked all the time... “How do I know when to recruit?

My answer is really simple - You are ALWAYS recruiting for your allied health business.

A great place to start is reviewing your online presence - after all, the first thing any potential employee will do is research your business online. So, consider how your business is currently being presented. I would suggest reviewing the following:

  • LinkedIn

Polish up your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s current, with a professional headshot. Take time to complete all the summary sections with information that will entice potential employees.

  • Facebook and Instagram

Is your business Facebook page up to date? How’s your business Instagram content looking? Use that same professional headshot and make sure what you’re sharing is aligned with your overall social media and marketing strategy.

  • Your website

How’s your website looking? Is the ‘About You’ section as good as it can possibly be? Do you feature all your other happy team members?  A key page to include in your website is a ‘Join The Team’ page. Even if you don’t have any active vacancies this page should highlight what your intentions are and who you’re hoping to attract. Perhaps a downloadable pdf flyer about you and the business?, best to stay in front of their job searching mind. Let potential candidates get in touch so you can start the conversation early in their job search.

There you have it - a great way of increasing your core confidence is to take control of how your business is portrayed to the world.

2Offering vague career paths

When it comes to recruitment we tend to focus solely on what we want from a new hire. But we do need to keep in mind that applicants are coming from a “what’s in it for me?” mindset.

The reality is that it’s a clinicians’ market at the moment (and I suspect that it will remain so for quite a few years to come) and clinicians can pick and choose where they go. So, it makes sense that applicants will want to know what you can do for them. What have you got to offer that others haven’t? How will you invest in them as a clinician AND as a person?

I’m a strong believer that there’s much more to creating magnificent clinicians than clinical supervision. It comes down to taking a 360 degree, whole-of-human approach to developing both clinical and personal skills.

To attract the best talent, you need to make clear what you can offer to help them develop their career. Here are a couple of places to start:

a. Onboarding

The first hours and days of an employee starting in a new role can often pretty much decide how long they’ll stay with you. So, it’s well worth investing the time to create a stellar onboarding process.

Being able to say in your job adverts that you offer a super-structured onboarding program is a great way to overcome any doubts about your investment in their career - particularly for any early-career clinicians who felt they weren’t able to progress elsewhere.

b. Create a personal development policy

Many applicants will be battle-scarred from previous roles where they had to fight for performance and salary reviews. One way to highlight your dedication to their personal development is to create a robust policies and procedures on performance development.

And don’t be afraid to shout about it. Highlight what options they’ll have over the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months to leverage their knowledge, their options for peer supervision and case studies on client outcomes. Shout about your external training budget - you can even put a number on the investment in clinical coaching and mentoring that employees can expect to receive.

Applicants want to know that their personal and professional development will be in good hands. So now’s the time to really think about how you can create procedures that will give you a leg up when it comes to recruiting.

3Low employer value proposition (EVP)

Have you ever spent time thinking critically about what makes your business unique?

Well, without being able to really unpack and articulate your key selling points as a business, and as a business owner, you’re offering a Low Employer Value Proposition to potential employees.

It’s crucial that you can identify what makes you stand out from all those other employers that are scouting the same small group of clinicians. It’s easiest to think about this through a marketing lens - tie it into your personal brand and marketing principles.

It’s time to get down to brass tacks - hit the whiteboard and get creative. Consider the following:

  • What are your business missions, values and visions?How does it feel to work in your business?
  • Have you asked your current employees and pulled out language that will resonate with job seekers in adverts and interview questions?
  • Have you done an employer competitive analysis to see how you compare to other businesses in the area?
  • Have you done work on your marketing brand?
  • Have you got a brand document that you can re-engineer to be part of a bundle that you give to applicants?
  • Have you looked at adverts on job sites and thought about what it would take to stand out from the sea of similar ads?

Trying to be like every other practice isn’t going to cut it when it comes to attracting the best talent. So spend some time to differentiate yourself and your advertising to offer a compelling employer value proposition.

There you have it. The three biggest mistakes you’re making with recruitment, and some ideas to help you mitigate them.

You’ve probably spotted a pretty clear theme running through each of the tips in this blog post. And that’s to be prepared. To really excel at recruitment it’s crucial to put the legwork in upfront and make sure that all the key areas of your business are well thought through and documented.

Only then can you offer a strong and credible opportunity to job seekers.

To access more support around recruitment check out Cathy’s Business Advantage Membership - a library of powerful niche business resources designed for allied health business owners. You get access to done-for-you blueprint templates to document your business, as well as video training to help put it all into practise.

Author information

Guest contributor Cathy Love is the founding director of Nacre Consulting where she coaches allied health business owners to run great practices. She's also an Occupational Therapist, Speaker, Author, and Podcaster.

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