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27 November 2017
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How to run a successful recruitment campaign

This resource was produced by Dr Robin Som, FMLM Trainee Steering Group Recruitment and Engagement Lead

I have been a member of the FMLM Trainee Steering Group (TSG) since its inception in 2012, in the role of recruitment and engagement lead, and the past year has been a challenging, fascinating, and rewarding one for me.

The dynamic nature of medical training means many trainees come and go from the TSG. Last summer, due to exams, role changes and other reasons a number of the regional representatives stepped down, or were in the process of stepping down. Recruiting to these roles was a priority, as was due consideration for FMLM’s aim to ensure representation of all four nations of the UK. So, we initiated a recruitment drive that ultimately appointed new representatives to all eight regions in the UK.

How did it work? The first step was to establish terms of reference for the roles; the TORs, as they’re called, inform any new members of their roles and responsibilities, and form the basis of the person specification. This was especially crucial at this point in time as in the past we had noticed that vague and non-binding TORs had, to some extent, been one of the contributing factors to the high turnover of team members. The TORs were created with input from all existing members of the TSG, which, I hope, will help give the group structure and shape in forthcoming years.

Publicising the roles was the next step. We used our Project Bank (now replaced with a Jobs and opportunities page) and social media to advertise all vacancies. Drawing attention to the roles was certainly one of the biggest challenges. We received several applications from some regions, but none from others. It was difficult to pinpoint why this was. To overcome this we implemented a focused strategy for each region. Through FMLM, we contacted trainees in regions where representation was needed. Judith Tweedie, FMLM’s clinical fellow at the time, and I got in touch with all senior leads and asked them to explore their own network for potential candidates. This proved to be the difference, after which we received multiple applications from most regions.

Interviews were conducted by conference call and revealed a range of personalities, experiences and skill sets. We spoke to doctors who had just graduated, doctors who were two years from CCT, and many in between. Some were in the middle of research or out of programme stints, while others were full time clinicians. However, there was one common quality I noted in all candidates, and that was the passion for leadership and change. This made appointing just one representative to each region very difficult – were it up to me, we would have appointed entire committees per region! Although, it was heart-warming to know that talented and committed doctors are out there, keen to contribute in these difficult times. 

I feel very lucky to have coordinated this recruitment drive, the biggest in the TSG’s history. It has given me the opportunity to work alongside some of the most experienced and senior doctors in medical leadership and management, and this is one of the aspects, where I feel I have gained the most. Both in this TSG role, and in my daily role as a surgeon, I sometimes struggle to communicate effectively with those more senior than me. Consultants can be intimidating, but this experience has helped me realise the kindness, patience and flexibility of individuals. If you show initiative, step forward and seek it out.

It has been a privilege to talk to trainees across the entire country and hear their thoughts on the state and future of our NHS. It was a wrench to turn away promising candidates, but the door is always open to anyone who would like to engage with the TSG in the future.

One surprising lesson learnt was the triumph of the personal touch over social media. I have long been an advocate of social media to reach large audiences, and the rest of the TSG team and the FMLM office can confirm. It transpired that that personal emails and using the networks of the senior regional leads was what led to the upturn in applications. In an era where a 10-character soundbite or one photo can be broadcast to millions in a second, it was good to see that personal conversations can engage and draw attention to a cause - having said that, perhaps what I really need is a tutorial in tweeting!

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