Creating an effective health visitor job advert


05 / 9 / 2014 1.08pm

A precise and honest advertisement for your organisation and health visiting can help to encourage excellent health visitors to join your trust, and may even convince nurses or midwives who are undecided to take the leap to enter the profession, or retired health visitors to return to practice.

A large majority of health visitors we interviewed recently, felt that the advert for health visitors in their organisation, did not accurately reflect the role. This is risky, as not managing candidates’ expectations can contribute to poor retention rates. Using the tips below, from those who have got it right, can help you to do so too.

A short introduction

A short summary of the vacancy and who you are looking for at the beginning of the advert, should tell readers about the role, and pique their interest.

The role and responsibilities

Making sure that this part of the advert is regularly reviewed, and that it is accurate and up to date, can help you to get the right people into the role, and staying there. Making clear what you need will help those that feel they are not right for the role, to deselect themselves from the process at an early stage, saving valuable time which might otherwise be spent dealing with unsuitable applications. If the role is more weighted towards specific tasks and responsibilities, be clear about them here.

Entry requirements

Although it may seem unnecessary, information about basic requirements for entry to health visitor training should be included. Health visiting’s profile has been boosted by the implementation plan and 150 year anniversary of the profession. We know that many services have been receiving applications from people who aren’t aware that they need to be a registered nurse or midwife in order to do the health visiting training. 

Another thing to consider is whether all the experience, or qualifications listed under 'essential criteria' in the advert are essential, or if the inclusion of them may be posing a disadvantage to some candidates or deterring them from applying. One such example, is the inclusion of the V100: Nurse Prescriber course, which many HV adverts ask for as essential. In fact, not all SCPHN curricula offer this qualification as a matter of course. A more inclusive and effective approach would be to include it as 'desirable' criteria, and offer new HVs a year or two to complete it once in employment if they have not done so already, which several providers are doing already. 

Person specification

This is an opportunity to really put across what kind of person you are looking for. Ensure that it reflects the needs of the service, and the community, and make the organisation’s values clear here, so that candidates can make sure that their own values align with them.

Although many people applying will know that only registered nurses or midwives can undertake health visitor training, it is worth making this explicit here, in order to reduce the number of unqualified people applying.

Your organisation and rewards

Health visiting can be a very rewarding career. As well as financial arrangements, this is a chance to provide details about all the other benefits staff get from working for your trust. Think about what sets you apart from others, and highlight these here. If your health visitors serve a vibrant and diverse community, for example, it is worth mentioning, as some health visitors will be attracted by the challenge. If you offer a good preceptorship programme, career development and learning opportunities, and flexible working options for your health visitors, be sure to mention them.

Health Education England has created a video about health visiting in Luton, which makes its own diverse community a feature.

Have a look for further advice on this, on our Why should health visitors choose to work for you? and Total Reward web pages.

Details about the job

Important information to include here, includes where the role would be based, how much travel is involved, and expected working hours. If it is a full time position, it would be advisable to make it clear here, whether you would accept applications from candidates wishing to undertake a part-time role, or study. This should be based on the needs of the service and current workforce flexible working arrangements, and balanced against the needs to offer work-life balance opportunities to new starters. Communicating this flexibility in the advert will reduce management time dealing with enquiries of this nature.

What next

Clarity about what interested candidates need to do to apply for the job, and when interviews are likely to be is very useful. It also reflects an organised and supportive organisation. It is advisable that you have one well-briefed person who candidates can contact should they have any queries about the recruitment process. Clearly communicate contact details on the advert, and make sure that person is available as often as possible.

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