At K&W we spend a large amount of our time helping psychologists to grow their private practice – growing their revenue, their teams and their overall profitability and efficiency. A topic that is often discussed is how difficult psychology practice owners find it to recruit additional practitioners.
I think it is fair to say that around once a week we hear a psychology practice owner say some variation of “recruitment is so hard” or “it’s so difficult to find a contractor”. I imagine if you are reading this then you may well have said something similar yourself. On some level it is not untrue to say that recruiting psychologists to work in your private practice can be a bit of a challenge. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s a highly competitive field with a relatively small number of people to choose from.
As private practices around the country begin to emerge from their forced pandemic related hibernation, many are coming out without enough practitioners remaining on their books to meet the steadily rising needs of their client base. So, the obvious question to be asked is how will your practice solve that problem and meet the need, right? Well, maybe, but there are few other things to think about on the way and in this blog, we are going to explore this a bit more closely. Before we get to 9 tips on successful recruiting though, here are the 3 most common things we hear about recruitment (after “recruitment is so hard” of course).
“The candidate isn’t available for after hours or Saturday”
We hear this one quite a bit. Often it’s a good strategic move to have a practitioner available for evening and Saturday sessions (and when we say often what we mean is nearly always). Very often practice owners will tell us that their selected candidate isn’t available for after hours work or weekends and our response is invariably the same; did you specifically advertise for that? When you are looking to fill any position it’s helpful to, for want of a better expression, ask for what you need.
“The candidate is only offering 1 day per week”
Yep, we get this one a bit too. There is no easy way to put this; the candidate is not offering, you are offering a role to be filled. So, as with the previous section, be specific in your job ad. It’s a practical nightmare to fill a psychologist’s diary with one day a week of availability, so if you are looking for a practitioner, realistically you need to be aiming to fill 3 days a week. Target your job ad to your requirements.
“How do I capture all my practice needs on one job ad?”
Finally an easy question. The answer is you don’t. Let’s use the two examples from above. Let’s say that your practice needs someone 3 days per week who has an interest in working with eating disorder clients, while at the same time you are also looking for cover on evenings and Saturday for couples counselling. They are two different roles and they each have fairly specific requirements. If you try to combine all this into one job ad to save the advertising cost, you are essentially inviting a combination of skills and availability that won’t work for you.
If any or all of this sounds familiar to you then the following 9 tips for private practice recruitment might be just what you need to change your game plan around. Let’s dive in.
#1 Know What You Need
It’s not enough to know that you need a new practitioner. Before you even start on the job ad you need to define precisely what the practice needs, how many days, what kind of presenting issues need to be covered. It helps to make a list and some notes about what need you are trying to answer and what type of practitioner will meet that need.
#2 Check Your Network
There is a deeper discussion to have about building networks of psychologists you can approach, but that’s probably best saved for another day. Notwithstanding, if you know any psychologists in your local area (or who might travel to your local area), then don’t be afraid to reach out to them before you advertise. Sometimes you can be lucky enough to fill a role quickly without going to market with it. It’s also worth asking other practice owners that you know if they have someone they might be willing to share with your practice.
#3 Consider Where You Will Advertise The Role
This is a bit the proverbial moving target. Generally, we recommend using industry specific job boards. The most notable for psychology are PsychXchage by the APS as well as contacting AAPi to advertise on their job board.
#4 Write a Specific Job Ad
Having put the time and thought into working out exactly what you are looking for, it’s now time to write the job ad with all of that in mind. If you want a practitioner three full days per week, then state that in the ad. Remember it’s your practice, you are extending the opportunity and it’s your practice needs that have to be filled. Make sure to note in the ad any specific requirements you would like them to address in their application.
#5 Review The Applications
Carefully review the applicants to make sure they have directly answered your specific requirements. Review for the remaining criteria and make a short list of candidates to screen.
#6 First Rejection and Screening
The candidates that didn’t make the cut on the first review can now be let off the hook. As a general matter or courtesy, send them a personalised email letting them know they have not been successful on this occasion but inviting them to connect and apply for future opportunities. If appropriate, connect with them on LinkedIn.
Those that made it through the first cut should be set up for a phone screening interview. These interviews should be short (maybe 10-15 minutes). Have some screening questions ready to go and work through them efficiently while keeping note of the responses and how you felt when talking to them. Finish the interview with a non committal phrase like “I’ll be in touch shortly to let you know what the next steps will be”. However, if you stumble across a great candidate then don’t be afraid to go ahead and book a face-to-face interview with them.
#7 Second Rejection
Time to cut again. The ones that don’t make the grade in the screening calls should now be sent a similar email to that which you sent for the first cut. Again, retain the contact and the relationship where possible and appropriate.
#8 Face-to-Face Interviews
Almost there now. Having narrowed the field to a few candidates, conduct your face-to-face interviews. Keep to a designated list of questions that work for you and your practice. Try to keep the interview to an hour (or 50 minutes if you prefer).
#9 Making the Offer
Time to get your offer out (pending reference checks) and get on with the show.
If we had to single out one tip to take away then perhaps the most important one here is knowing what you are looking for. Define your needs, know what you want and ask for what you are looking for. Always remember, “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable” – Seneca
Want more in-depth support for recruiting psychologists in your private practice? The Practice Lab has a comprehensive online course on private practice recruitment, as well as a 22-page Standard Recruitment Guide and Templates for Private Practice.