Let's look outside of the NHS

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In his second blog, Will Thornton, recruitment manager at York Teaching Hospitals, looks at how we can make vacancies more accessible to people working outside of the NHS.

When we have difficulty recruiting to a vacancy, our thoughts quickly turn to the different things that we can do to increase the chances of filling it.  For many, the temptation is to spend money on advertising to reach a wider audience.  Others persevere, hoping that tweaking a job advert and a stroke of good fortune will combine to attract new applications.  More often than not, both fail to deliver the outcome we want.

So where do we go from there?  Working on our employer brand can improve our prospects.  Reviewing our skills mix and putting in place strategies to ‘grow our own’ can be better still.  But for non-registered positions – and even some which are registered – there’s usually something much simpler and less labour-intensive that can help us cast our nets much wider, and that is making positions more accessible to people outside of the NHS.

Very often, we fail to appreciate how much of a barrier we create with our use of NHS terminology in job adverts and job descriptions – even in job titles.  We become conditioned to the language of Agenda for Change and struggle to articulate a job’s purpose and responsibilities in plain terms.  It’s well worth speaking to someone outside of the NHS about your vacancy before you advertise, so that you develop a basic description that can be more widely understood.  This easy step can go a long way towards improving the quality of your candidate pool.

There’s another way  we can encourage applications from more people outside of the NHS. It’s unlikely to win any international science prizes but is nevertheless something that we could do more often: drop NHS experience requirements from job specifications.  One of the things that I was struck by at our marketplace event in April was how many people reported having applications rejected because of a lack of NHS experience.  They weren’t applying for positions with particularly complex requirements, yet their paths were blocked because they had not already worked in an NHS organisation.  Understandably, these people felt disheartened by their catch-22 situation.

If we deter people from applying for jobs with us, it’s clearly our loss.  After all, where will the diversity of ideas come from if we all have NHS baggage?

We don’t need to think very differently to help that problem -  whether it’s by describing jobs in different terms, moving away from NHS-specific requirements or changing job titles. However we do it, if we can open the door to more people, we can develop a more diverse workforce which can only be good for our patients.

Find out more about planning and delivering successful recruitment strategies on our employer-led recruitment web pages.

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