Crafting a Cohesive Message

Social Media Beaker

How marketing and HR can work together: staff recruitment through online marketing.

Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS

Staff recruitment can be a challenge for all private physical therapy practices.

Whether a small, startup, single practice site or a multi-clinic empire, staff recruitment takes time, effort, and money, and it also causes stress! Staff that are a cultural fit, have the required skill set, and possess the capacity to perform at your practice’s expectations are generally hard to find. Often, a practice is left in the predicament of hiring “out of desperation” to solve the risk of revenue loss in the short term. However, hiring an employee who does not fit your culture and does not meet your team’s expectations will be detrimental to a practice in the long term, affecting the quality of care, the patient experience, and negatively impacting other team members.

Staff recruitment is generally considered a function of Human Resources, yet the tactics that attract desirable and talented employees are the same as those tactics utilized to bring new patients to our practices. By coming up with a hiring strategy, and approaching recruitment just like we approach marketing strategies to gain new patients, your practice has the potential to gain a pool of talented and desirable team members, ready to join your staff as soon as an opening arises!

1. Know Your Target “Persona”

When creating a marketing plan to generate new patients, it’s common practice to develop “personas.” Personas are fictional characters created to represent the targeted individual a practice would like to see. Patient personas may include variables such as age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies, payer, ailments, hopes, fears, and dreams.1 This same principle can be used when recruiting, but with the caveat of not including traits that would be discriminatory. Consider creating a recruitment persona with variables such as experience, education, professional affiliations, certifications, unique skills, and goals. For example: A licensed physical therapist, who is an active APTA member, with a minimum of 2 years of orthopedic experience. This person will have completed at least 12 CEU credits annually and have the goal of becoming a board-certified clinical specialist within 3 years.

Knowing exactly who you are seeking to attract will ensure job postings, your social presence, and your messaging are appealing to these personas. As a result, you will be hiring staff that meets your long-term practice goals rather than hiring out of desperation.

2. Your Job Posting Is a Sales Pitch

Job postings can be considered a sales pitch for new employees. Traditional job postings are written in the same format as a job description and include a thorough list of duties and responsibilities, skills, and qualifications. But to an eager physical therapist scrolling through multiple job openings, a posting that tells this person what’s great about working at your company, what makes your practice different, and what impact they’ll have on the organization2 is surely more appealing.

Make your job postings reflect your culture, cut out the legal jargon, and create postings that make people want to apply.

3. Branding Is Important for Potential Employees

Research by LinkedIn found that 75 percent of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job, and 52 percent of candidates check out the company’s website and social media.3 Creators and contributors to a practice’s website and social media design and content must consider not only how to drive new patients to a practice but also how to attract candidates for recruitment. Patients want to see that your practice is the best place for them to reach their goals for recovery, but candidates also have goals in terms of their career. Your website’s career page is the number one destination people go when considering employment at your practice and therefore is the single best place to share what your brand is about4,5 and the opportunities staff have to reach their goals while working for your practice. Social media provides the perfect opportunity to share the culture of your workplace. Be consistent and post photos and videos that truly represent the kind of people you would like to attract. Highlight dress-down days, company sports teams and clubs, celebrations—choose what represents your culture. Current staff will organically share these posts, spreading the word about your practice’s culture.

Past and present employee reviews, whether on social media platforms or sites such as, also have an impact on your brand. Consider asking past and present employees to write reviews about your practice on the various platforms.

4. Relationship Recruitment

Just like marketing, recruitment can be about developing relationships. Consider your desired personas and how to find opportunities to engage and develop authentic relationships. If your practice is seeking new graduates, then attend college job fairs and graduation events where you can provide valuable content for recent graduates, such as key tools to managing your student debt. Alternatively, if you desire a candidate who is an experienced pelvic health specialist, you will need to develop relationships through avenues such as professional associations. Just like relationship marketing, relationship recruitment takes ongoing communication, engagement, honesty, and patience. However, with an ongoing approach to building relationships, a practice can build a pool of potential candidates over time.

Human resources can focus on internal matters of the company and creating an employee brand, while marketing focuses on external matters and business branding. However different they may seem, these two departments should not be separated and siloed components of your practice. A practice should use every resource and combine the strengths of each department to create and market an employee experience that is true to the brand. By working together to create a universal message and market it to the right employee persona, your team will continue to grow with long-term employees who fit your team’s culture and goals.

References: Accessed June 2019.

2Collie M. 5 simple steps in creating a marketing persona. Impact. March 2019.

3 Accessed June 2019. Accessed June 2019.

5Collie M. The Why and How. Make recruitment and retention part of your marketing plan. Impact. May 2016.

Michelle Collie

Michelle Collie, PT, DPT, MS, is the chair of the PPS PR and Marketing Committee and chief executive officer of Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island. She can be reached at

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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