Mental Health Recruitment: Best Practices to Consider When Hiring
The challenges in the mental health recruitment space differ to other industries. Workers in the mental health sector carry a huge responsibility and therefore, by extension, mental health job recruiters have an equally heavy duty of care.
Recruiting for a health service position requires specialist knowledge of social work as well as the specific skills required to help vulnerable people living with mental health problems. In an industry that cares for children & young people, the vulnerable or elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from mental illness, the allied & mental health recruitment process must be thorough. So, to help make sure that you hire someone qualified and equipped to provide the right kind of support for those in their care, let’s take a look at some industry best practices.
The 7 Golden Rules of Mental Health Recruitment
1) Know the legislation
Whether it’s providing support for the blind, counselling people with mental health issues or working with young people from difficult backgrounds, health professionals deal with some of society’s most vulnerable on a daily basis. It’s therefore extremely important — from a duty of care perspective as well as a liability standpoint — that the support worker you hire is fully qualified for the position. Of course, this will differ greatly from role to role. Some roles may require a specific bachelor or graduate entry master’s degree whereas others require specialised training and certifications in addition to a degree in a related field such as Health Sciences, Psychology or Rehabilitation.
From physical therapists or rehabilitation specialists to speech pathologists, psychologists or social workers, each role within the sector has its own unique requirements. So whilst it may sound obvious, make sure you understand exactly what specific qualifications, skills & experience the role needs before you advertise.
2) Talk to your current staff
Whether you’re an experienced HR Manager or a recruiting Line Manager, chances are you don’t have recent, hands-on experience in the exact role you are recruiting for. So, to get a better idea of what the job actually involves, talk to your current staff in the same or similar positions. Find out what their skills are as well as the challenges they face day to day. This approach will give you a deeper understanding of the role you’re recruiting for, help you to make the vacancy more appealing to job seekers and — as an added bonus — enable you to identify ways to streamline internal procedures.
3) Check out the competition
Find out what other organisations are doing and see how you compare. Discovering their strengths will allow you to improve your own operations whereas looking at their weaknesses will help you to understand what makes your organisation appealing to candidates. Many recruiters make the mistake of assuming that they hold all of the power because candidates need to find work. The truth is, however, that potential employers need to make their organisation stand out in a candidate’s job search, particularly in a candidate-short industry like mental health care. You need to sell your organisation in your advert just as much as the candidate needs to sell themselves in their application. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses compared to your competitors will enable you to better promote your organisation as well as the role on offer
4) Be proactive
With shallow candidate pools and high burnout rates, mental health recruitment requires a proactive approach. Job boards (particularly those specialising in social care) can be a great way to generate applications but it shouldn’t be the only tool in your arsenal. When it comes to sourcing qualified healthcare professionals, don’t be afraid to approach people directly. If you know of someone who would be perfect for the role, ask them if they would like to apply. The same goes for your Linked-In network — reach out to your peers by posting a status update and ask former colleagues for recommendations or referrals. Don’t wait for the applications to come to you — get proactive and actively chase great talent.
5) Get help from specialist Mental Health Recruiters
Asking for help is a strength rather than a weakness, especially when it could save you an enormous amount of time, hassle and money. Rather than reaching out to big companies who cover countless industries, make sure you partner with specialist mental health recruiters. As experts in mental health recruitment, they will have an extensive network of candidates before they even advertise. Their job is to stay in touch with clients and candidates across the industry so they will have access to fantastic people who aren’t actively looking for work. They will also have plenty of experience writing job adverts and will know exactly how to sell your organisation to potential applicants. They recruit for these types of roles day in day out and will thus be able to get you faster and better results.
6) Interview, interview and interview
We’ve long established that those working in mental health have to be highly qualified and skilled individuals. With specific certifications and experience required for each individual role, you’ll soon be able to short-list the most qualified candidates on paper. But what about interpersonal skills and bedside manner? Social care involves working with vulnerable people and soft skills are therefore extremely important. The most qualified candidate on paper might not be the best candidate for the role. It’s therefore extremely important that you allocate plenty of time for thorough interviews, even if it means conducting two or three rounds to be sure.
Don’t be afraid to include your current staff in the interview process, particularly if team work is an important part of the role. Understanding how the candidates interact with others is important for most jobs but it’s particularly important in the mental health care industry. You don’t have to stick to simple pre-prepared questions either — feel free to explore other methods such as role play or group interviews. Keeping in mind that each role within the mental health sector has its unique challenges and requirements, don’t be afraid to tailor the interview process to the job in hand.
7) Keep networking
Like most tasks in life, it’s tempting not to worry about recruitment until you actually need to fill a position. But when it comes to a candidate-short and specialised industry like mental health services, it’s important to keep one eye on recruitment at all times. This doesn’t mean you have to constantly hold interviews but rather be active on Linked-In, stay connected to colleagues & peers and attend networking events to stay visible across the social care industry. If you’re working under a tight budget then be selective about which events you attend but try to make regular appearances if possible.
The easiest way of keeping up to date with potential candidates, however, is by regularly checking in with your recruitment partner. As we’ve already established, it’s their job to continuously network and find candidates so one simple phone call per month can keep you abreast of the market without having to spend a penny or even get up from your desk.
Ready to take the next step?
Recruiting for such important roles can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember the basics: do your research, be proactive and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
At ABRS, we have a team of recruitment specialists who are dedicated to Allied & Mental Health roles within the social care sector. From client-facing roles like Mobility Therapist, Counsellors or Triage Services to management and leadership positions like Clinical Leaders or Heads of Department, we can help you to find the right people for your organisation. For more information, please contact 02 9218 2334 and ask to speak to our Allied & Mental Health specialists.