It’s hiring season! The PT industry is on the road to recovery, and many clinics (roughly a quarter, in fact) are seeing the same patient volumes they did prior to COVID-19. And greater patient volume means that some clinics—especially those that were forced to make personnel changes last year—are in the perfect position to bring new therapists on board. It’s perfect timing, too: a new batch of DPTs recently graduated and entered the workforce, and they’re itching to find a job and begin working with patients in earnest.
That said, actually attracting talented PTs to your clinic is a whole other ball game—but with a little preparation, it’s one you can win. Our top tip? Write a killer PT job description.
Your physical therapy job description is your best chance to:
- Ensure your applicant pool aligns with the skills and experience you specifically want and need; and
- Market your clinic as a great place to work.
The descriptions for your open roles impact both the number and quality of candidates your listings attract—which is why I’m going to help you craft a stand-out job description that’ll bring in not only the best of the best, but also the best fit for your clinic.
Check out the local market.
When writing a job description, one of the first things you should do is research the local PT job market. Consider:
- PT job saturation in your area (i.e., are there a lot of postings for therapist positions?);
- Commonly-offered benefits; and
- Average salary ranges.
The goal here is to pinpoint any market standards you may need to match. For instance, if everyone in your market is offering to pay for employee CEUs, then your job description should touch on your CEU benefits (if you have them). If your budget is a little tight and you can’t offer the same benefits as your competitors, consider the benefits that you can and do offer—and include them in your description.
Generally speaking, you want to make your job listing look as good—if not better—than everyone else’s, so it’s important to know what they’re doing!
Cover all your bases.
Just about every job description is broken down into sections. Some of the most common categories are:
- Job purpose or summary;
- Duties and responsibilities; and
- Skills and qualifications (which is further divided into abilities and knowledge and education and experience).
A few words of advice: In your job purpose or summary section, provide candidates with a general overview of the role—and try to keep it down to a few sentences. To level up your job description, use this area to describe the attitude and approach of your ideal candidate—as well as provide an overview of your clinic’s environment.
Avoid going too far into the weeds.
Also, when listing out the role’s duties and responsibilities, aim for a descriptive happy medium. It’s important to lay out specific responsibilities that incoming PTs can expect to own (e.g., tracking patient outcomes data or providing excellent, thorough documentation)—but drilling down to the minutia isn’t necessary.
Work your culture into your description.
One of the most important elements of a successful job description is an accurate depiction of your clinic’s culture. This is especially true if you’re targeting new grads. In our 2021 State of Rehab Therapy survey, students cited company culture as one of their top three priorities when hunting for jobs. Infusing your clinic's personality into your listings—and playing up the positive attributes that differentiate your organization as a top-notch employer—can make a world of difference to candidates who are scrolling through dozens of generic listings.
I can even speak to this personally! WebPT’s job description for my role totally caught my eye when I was searching for my next gig. This was its opening: “When a fresh first draft comes across your desk, you see more than a canvas for red circles, arrows, and strikethroughs. You see a diamond in the rough—a shining example of literary brilliance disguised as a ho-hum piece of copy.”
I immediately knew WebPT was a company that prized creativity and humor—and the rest of the job description painted a picture of the exact kind of environment I wanted to work in. You can—and absolutely should—do that exact same thing with your PT listings.
Avoid red flag language.
When recruiting PTs, remember that you’re not the only one conducting evaluations. Job hunters are looking for red flags too—and some job descriptions are full of them. For instance, if a job is listed as an entry-level position but requires many years of experience, this can indicate that an organization underpays its employees—or that it doesn’t pay much mind to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Lingo that overemphasizes the need for flexibility (like “must be willing to wear multiple hats” or “must be able to handle highly stressful environments”) can also be a red flag for job hunters, as it may indicate that the clinic is short-staffed and/or does not support work-life balance. Some job hunters even consider “we’re like a family” a red-flag phrase, because it may point to long hours and unpaid work time—a classic recipe for burnout.
Consult with current employees.
After writing the first draft of your job description, show it to current staff therapists—or to other employees who work closely with your staff therapists. They will be able to help you fill in gaps in your description—if there are any—especially when it comes to job duties and necessary prerequisites. Current employees can also help you evaluate whether you’ve painted an accurate picture of your clinic and its culture.
Double-check for typos and grammatical errors.
You’re looking to hire the best of the best, but remember that those star performers are also on the hunt for stellar professional environments. While typos and grammatical errors aren’t the end of the world (we’re all human, after all), they can make your listing look slapdash—and your clinic unpolished.
So, write the first draft of your job description using a program that can check for correct spelling and grammar—like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Then, ask someone else (preferably someone with a good eye!) to read over your work. Only then should you copy and paste it over to the job boards. Just be sure you don’t lose your formatting in the process!
Check out this example.
But enough advice. Here’s an example of how you could open up a job summary:
You’re a PT who lives and breathes for the patient experience. Helping patients overcome their pain and get back to the life they care about is a passion for you—and it shows. You’re a welcoming clinic presence who can connect with just about any patient who lands on your schedule, and your attention to outcomes (and your ability to adapt and adjust your care plan as needed) shines through your high-quality, evidence-based care. You’re a total team player, a fastidious documenter, and an expert problem-solver.
This type of opener can be super effective, because it stands leagues apart from the other listings that start out with some variation of, “We are seeking a full-time PT.” Not only is this copy lively and energetic (and thus, attractive to lively and energetic candidates), but it also tells prospective applicants several things:
- Your clinic prioritizes patient care and the patient experience;
- You expect therapists to track outcomes and stick to evidence-based care;
- Your clinic has a team-oriented environment;
- Therapists are expected to complete their own documentation to a certain standard; and
- Therapists may need to treat a variety of patients (i.e., not only geriatrics or sports patients).
Play around with your job description. Try to write something that would persuade you to apply. Show off your clinic’s best assets, and set clear expectations for your candidates.
Attracting excellent talent is simply a matter of showing that you’re an excellent organization—one oozing compassion, efficiency, and a dash of zest. With a little preparation, you’ve got this in the bag.
Have any job description tips and tricks to share? Drop ’em in the comment section below!