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Standing out in the competitive Public Health market

As a recruiter who has specialised in Director of Public Health (DPH) appointments for a number of years, clients often ask how they can make themselves more attractive in one of the most competitive talent markets in local government. Whilst there is no ‘silver bullet’ that unlocks a pool of talented candidates, there is a range of things local authorities can do to make their roles stand out, including:

Have the role report to the Chief Executive. Consider offering ambitious DPHs the chance to enhance their influence and progress their careers at a higher level. With many currently reporting in through another Director, reporting to the Chief Executive is a golden opportunity to embed Public Health across the Council and the wider system.

Widen the role remit. Some organisations include regulatory services within the role, making it more attractive to potential candidates. Others have added leisure, libraries, parks, or commissioning.

Prioritise Health and Well-being, centralising it in all published council strategies and plans. Show your commitment through messages in recruitment collateral and allow candidates to engage with Members during the recruitment.

Create well-established links with universities and opportunities for research, providing opportunities for ambitious DPHs to enhance their professional development.

Let candidates know how strong your public health team is with team profiles and details in recruitment materials.

A position of influence within the ICS/ ICB: The opportunity for the DPH to influence across the wider health system with a seat at the top table in the local ICS or ICB is a potential attraction.

Reputation as a great place for Public Health trainees: In an incredibly competitive market, a Council has an opportunity to establish itself as an organisation that welcomes and encourages placements for trainees on the Public Health Training Programme for aspiring Consultants in Public Health. Not only will this give the Public Health team access to the latest talent and ideas, but also, potentially, new recruits to strengthen the team as Consultants in Public Health once they have completed the scheme.

Diversity and inclusion: A council’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is a clear attraction to potential candidates.

Whilst this is a great start, there are many more ways to make the opportunity more attractive. At Penna, we excel in attracting the best talent, and keeping up to date with market dynamics, including shifts in candidate preferences and motivations.

Nick Raper, Public Health Lead, Executive Search

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