Recruitment guidance

Responses to our March feature.

Recently, guidance has been released by the BPS about best practice in recruiting for psychologists (see March issue). This new document is a refresh and extension of a previous letter from the BPS to recruiters, but both are essentially advising that best practice in recruitment is to advertise by competency rather than job title. This is to reflect the diversity of divisions and roles in the psychological professions, and that often (but not always of course) these roles overlap, and multiple practitioners would be suitable for a role, particularly in the NHS.

However, I see time and time again job adverts in The Psychologist for Clinical Psychologists only. Reading the job description, some of these are valid, but many of these do not seem to follow the BPS’s own recent guidance. As a Counselling Psychologist working in the NHS, it honestly never stops hurting slightly when I see these adverts. For me, every day it feels like there is some small battle to prove our worth and value. I was lifted by the recent BPS advice, and then dismayed by both the response from some quarters and by continuing to see jobs in The Psychologist advertised in outdated and restrictive ways.

Please can you consider supporting and reinforcing the BPS’ own guidance in the magazine, and check job adverts before accepting them for best practice in their use of job titles? And, if they do not meet the guidelines, perhaps encourage the advertiser to reflect upon and change them before you can include them? This could have such a big impact on so many practitioners, and make us feel that BPS is taking a unified approach and really practising what it preaches.

Dr Harriet Challoner
Counselling Psychologist and Chartered member

Editor’s reply: This has been a consideration for many years, and we have had renewed discussions lately in the context of the new guidance.

The group behind the guidance recognise that this will be a gradual cultural shift, and at the moment it is not feasible (or even in line with the guidance) to reject advertising on the basis of use of a specific title. However, our advertising partners do have a copy of the guidance and the article we ran in the March issue around it, and they are sharing with any recruiters where they think it appropriate.

It’s also a topic we are likely to return to, including this month, as it gets right to the core of what The Psychologist is about as a magazine.

Reply from Alison Clarke, Chair BPS Practice Board:
We are encouraged by the discussions that have opened up as a result of the guidance, which represents involvement from across the domains and society-wide consultation. We thought we would take this opportunity to clarify a few points.

Our guidance recommends stipulating the competencies required for a role to capture all those which are needed to perform the role safely and effectively. The presence of competencies within a particular training doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of them in others. Equally, the absence of something in initial training does not mean an individual could not have gained that competency in some other way. We expect all psychologists to act with integrity in their reflective practice and CPD pursuits to ensure safe and effective practice. Psychologists applying for a role would be assessed for competencies alongside all other candidates shortlisted for the role, during a typical recruitment process, such as an interview.

Our guidance advocates that the title of the advertised role should be inclusive. Any applicants to the role, regardless of domain, would still need to meet the relevant competencies required to perform the role safely and effectively. Whilst there are competency differences between domains, there are also competency differences between individuals within those domains. HCPC standards and qualification competencies do not account for the different placements, experiences, qualifications and CPD gathered during a whole career.

The guidance is aimed at all psychology roles, primarily those within health and social care. We expect that any psychologist with the relevant competencies should be able to apply for a role. This applies, for example, to clinical psychologists as much as those from other domains. The key is that the applicant has the competencies required: these may have been gained during initial qualification, on a placement, through CPD, a further qualification, years of experience in a particular role, context or setting, in a previous career or job role or somewhere else regardless of protected title.

As with any guidance, this is advice which will only lead to gradual cultural change if those in the necessary positions agree with it. Our hope is that psychology leaders from any domain will be involved in the creation of all psychologist role descriptions to carefully define the competencies required to perform the role safely and effectively. Our aim is to help recruiters with a fair and inclusive recruitment process which widens the number of potential applicants to fill roles.

Please send any comments or queries to Hannah Farndon on [email protected].

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