Recruiting new staff to your GP practice

Written by: Steve Williams, co-chair of the Practice Management Network
Published on: 22 Jul 2019

There are over 20,000 vacancies on NHS Jobs as I write. Each of these organisations is competing for the best talent. A search for ‘practice manager’ returns over 1,500 results. The recruitment market is vibrant, and employers must compete to attract the best candidates.

So what can you do to make your job stand out? First, look at a sample of other advertisements and see if any catch your attention. Ask yourself why, and how it persuaded you to read further. Then think about how you want to approach writing your own.

What does a job advert do?

The post should:

  1. Engage suitable candidates but discourage those that would be clearly unsuitable
  2. Show your organisation at its best
  3. Ensure that it complies with anti-discrimination regulations
  4. Make it easy for prospective employee to apply

You only have a limited amount of words to engage your reader, so keep the message straightforward.

Content checklist

  1. The precise job title
  2. Who you are
  3. Where you are
  4. A summary of the job role and hours
  5. Outline of responsibilities
  6. Outline of person profile
  7. Any qualifications or experience needed
  8. The salary or, at least, a range or guide
  9. Where the role fits in the organisation
  10. Contact details and deadline

By including this information, you are allowing prospective candidates to make informed choices and judge whether they will be suitable for the role. Keep it clear and concise with no ambiguity. Remember the advertisement is about attracting the right person. Further information can always be provided upon request or before the interview and appointment.

Stand out from the crowd

Here are some ideas for making your vacancy attract attention.

  • Make sure the headline is clear and relevant.
  • What is your key message? Make it obvious and eye-catching.
  • Sell yourself. Do not be embarrassed to share that you are an outstanding CQC practice, or a training practice, or have won awards.
  • Always use concise and easy to read language. Get to the point. Use key words to emphasise what your organisation is about.
  • Be friendly. Refer to the prospective candidate as ‘you’ and make them feel that they are already part of the team.
  • Emphasise what makes your practice unique. What extra benefits might you offer, for example, ongoing training, CPD or further career progression?
  • Be welcoming. Make the prospective candidate feel that they will fit in immediately to your way of working. Show them how their role with fit with everyone else.

What not to do

Too often, it seems easier to copy what someone else has done and assume that will be enough. However, you do not know the number of responses other adverts have generated, or even the level of candidates attracted.

  • Avoid costly designs or unnecessary artwork.
  • Don’t use old advertisements and descriptions. Start afresh and tailor it to the role.
  • Ditch any technical jargon or detailed contractual obligations.
  • Keep it concise. Long winded language is off-putting.
  • Don’t be boring. The advert should be inspiring.
  • Avoid creating a profile that demands a perfect candidate. That risks putting off potential applicants.

Live up to your promises

Once you have written the perfect advertisement and shortlisted your ideal candidates, you must be the organisation you say you are. The advert is just the start of the journey. It needs to be backed up with a good recruitment process, staff induction, clear working practices and more importantly, a sense of belonging. The first year of any new role is vital to both employee and employer. Retention is just as important as recruitment.


Steve Williams is co-chair of the Practice Management Network. He is Honorary Treasurer of AMSPAR (The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists) and a lead tutor/assessor for their management qualifications. He is a council member of the National Association of Primary Care, as well as a qualified accountant and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.