Healthy communities depend partly on how people can work and live well together. Many communities have found that community-focused health workers can help those initiatives. And these workers can be community health workers, community health representatives, promotores, or similar other similar titles.
Coordinating community resources and increasing capacity through CHWs can also boost your agency’s reputation and reach in an area. Once you’ve established this, your program will begin to grow on its own strengths.
Job Responsibilities of a CHW
Before you think about where you’ll recruit your next CHW, think about what they’ll be doing on the job.
A CHW’s responsibilities vary depending on the community they serve. Basic duties include:
- Facilitate access to healthcare services. This can look like coordinating transit, helping navigate health insurance, offering language services, and other similar tasks
- Assist in disease prevention. Tasks such as helping make the home a healthy environment for those with chronic illnesses (like asthma). They can also educate their peers about healthy living and encourage the population to get regular screenings
- Advocate for the needs of the community they serve. This includes opening and maintaining communication with local healthcare providers
- Organize local outreach programs to raise awareness about the existence of the initiative, as this makes it possible for everyone to access the services they need
- Collect health data from a population and report to healthcare officials
Look at this list of soft skills CHWs should have so you can take that into account with your new hires too.
CHW Training Bundle
Kickstart your health program with these resources.
Recruiting Community Health Workers
In many cases, recruitment should start with the groups where a CHW will be working. The key is CHWs need to come from the community. The more connected community members feel to the people supporting their health, the more likely they are to take charge of their health and live a better life.
The next step in your recruitment journey is to think about how they’re funded and their employment status. Is your CHW a volunteer or a paid staff? Are they working seasonally? Some agencies employ CHWs during times when food insecurity is at its highest or in line with an initiative such as breast cancer awareness. Do they work full or part time? Does your grant have constraints that may affect them? All of these questions matter when you’re looking to hire because they’ll reflect on the expertise you need.
The Community Approach
1. Word of mouth.
Word of mouth can be one of the easiest and fastest ways to recruit for almost any position. Simply asking the reliable people who you already know if they can recommend someone to fit the Community Health Worker job description can uncover excellent candidates.
Word-of-mouth hiring has some drawbacks, however. It closes the circle of new talent to people who might be similar to who you’re already employing. There’s also research that says employee referrals can restrict diversity.
2. Community members.
Since you’re looking for people to work in the communities you serve, ask those communities for referrals. Interview community leaders to identify people who are caring and good connectors because they can make great community health workers.
3. talk to people from faith-based organizations
4. ask storekeepers, beauticians, teachers, and barbers for contacts
5. put the word out to local nonprofits that have similar goals of supporting the community. Focus on those community-based organizations that have an established reputation
6. attend community events, such as health fairs, sporting events or others, and make connections with leaders.
The Institutional Approach
7. Educational agencies, such as CHWTraining, government programs, or local community colleges. Speak with administrators for referrals and to send your job ad.
8. CHW associations.
Your local Community Health Workers association undoubtedly has a roster of names you can tap into. It’s helpful to implement a strategy for recruiting from associations so you can target your search rather than simply blanketing every member with a help-wanted ad.
Here are some tips from Monster for being a savvy association recruiter:
- Industry knowledge: Reads association newsletters and journals to stay abreast of industry happenings as well as future trends.
- Contacts: Cull key names from journal articles to use as sources for candidates, for search assignments, or simply as networking contacts.
- Local presence: attend local meetings monthly and regional meetings occasionally.
9. Job banks.
People looking for work look at the help-wanted pages like anyone else. In addition to local job banks, post notices at:
10. employment offices,
11. social services offices,
12. and workforce development agencies, including job placement programs for groups such as the formerly incarcerated.
Next Step: Interviewing CHWs
When you have a list of candidates, it’s time to move on to the interviewing phase. Look at How To Hire a Community Health Worker – Interview Guide for tips on how to prepare for interviewing your next CHW. We’ve listed essential skills for CHWs, what to look for during the interview process, and the top 20 questions to ask your next CHW.