Interested in Reducing Turnover? Improve your Hiring Practices!
The way an organization recruits and integrates new workers can have long term impacts on stability and productivity. The hiring process can help ensure that a new worker is a good fit, gets an effective introduction to the organization’s culture, begins contributing right away – and stays.
The addictions field encompasses a wide range of professions and responsibilities, and includes many people who have personal experience with addiction and recovery. Given the shortage of workers, it is important to tailor your hiring practices to meet your program’s needs, and to be sure your process implements some special considerations for people with lived experience, such as supervision which supports ongoing recovery, and informed reading of CORI reports to match people to jobs for which they are appropriate. With a growing emphasis on hiring workers who reflect the population they serve, your process should be solidly culturally competent.
Job Postings on Careers of Substance
NEW! Careers of Substance now has its own section where organizations can post substance use and addictions–related jobs and internships. You can Create a Job or Internship Posting and/or list your organization’s Job Board.
See below for suggestions on how to write a great job description and advertisement, as well as where else you might want to post the job. Consider the job-seeker’s point of view by looking at factors candidates often consider when looking for a job, and keywords candidates often search for.
A clear, realistic job description is key to finding the right candidate. It also provides guidance for the employee and the supervisor in regular supervision and evaluation. In writing the description:
- Involve HR personnel and others with whom the position interacts.
- Spell out responsibilities, skills and qualifications to perform the job.
- Describe the working environment, reporting and supervisory structure, hours, and physical and other working conditions.
- Delineate the benefits and compensation structure.
- Explain training expectations/opportunities and opportunities for advancement.
- Consider the following: Do you require bilingual staff? Do you require training in culturally responsive care, co-occurring disorders, trauma-informed care, motivational interviewing? If the position you are hiring for typically has frequent turnover, you might consider making some changes to what is required. Ask existing and leaving staff what makes the position difficult. Try making a change to the job duties, supervision, or resources.
- Consider including keywords that candidates might search for.
Writing the Advertisement
- Be clear about the job responsibilities, requirements, contacts and timeframe
- Your advertisement is a communication about your organization: include some advantages to working there, such as any unusual benefits or perks, and use culturally appropriate language. Consider ideas from the Retention section which might apply to this job to make it more attractive.
- Could it be set up with flex hours?
- Does your program participate in any credit-for-experience arrangements with local colleges?
- Are you in a professional shortage area which would allow the candidate to possibly qualify for tuition loan repayment programs?
Where to Advertise
Venues for job advertising are changing:
- Create a Job Posting on Careers of Substance
- Professional and Technical Assistance Organizations (MAADAC, ABH, ATTC, NAADAC, etc.)
- Monster.com, Boston.com, Indeed.com, Idealist.org
- Social media
- Regional and cultural newspapers
- Job/career fairs
- Former and current interns, if school rules permit
- Peer support programs/Recovery Support Centers
- Community centers
- Houses of worship, recreation centers, recovery centers
- Local community colleges and universities
- Family members of current and past clients
- Former clients (if contact permission was obtained before they left)
- Recovering professionals
- Use word of mouth via former employees, other local providers, staff from fields with similar competencies
- Invite retirees to consult until a job is filled, or to be consultant counselors or supervisors
- Local or out of state recruitment services
- The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran
- Hiring Veterans - Interacting at a Job Fair
- US Department of Labor's Hiring Veterans: A Step-by-Step Toolkit for Employers (Step #3: Actively Recruit Veterans, Wounded Warriors and Military Spouses)
- Note that for-profit employer planning to hire certain qualifying veterans may be eligible for a tax credit.
- Decide who will conduct the screening (HR only, or members of the interviewing team?)
- Establish clear parameters for screening out and screening in
- Consider a phone-screen before an in-person interview
- Use a team interview and consider including clients on the team
- Interview onsite at the program
- Use a behavioral questionnaire (such as Myers-Briggs)
- Use role plays to see how a candidate might respond to a typical situation
- Be clear about mission/values
- Be realistic about the advantages/disadvantages of the job (sometimes called “realistic interviewing”)
- Provide a copy of the job description
- Keep candidates in the loop during the hiring process
- Ensure that if CORI reports are required, staff who review them are trained to distinguish between items that legitimately prevent a candidate from being hired from those that don’t.
- Review the SAMHSA "Know Your Rights" Guide. Do not ask about recovery status; you may describe program policies about substance use
- Consider that candidates may be suited for more than one position
- Minimize the time it takes to go from Screening to Starting
- Streamline paperwork involved
- Be familiar with the CORI waiver process
- Assign a mentor
- Have computer access, phone, email, business cards, etc. ready on the first day.
Read more about these activities and further suggestions:
- Partners for Recovery's Hiring Manual
- SAMHSA's Recruitment and Retention Toolkit
- Find Job Description support (job titles, work activities, skills, etc.) through O-NET OnLine,such as
- ATTC’s Imagine Who You Could Save website
- Position Marketing/Advertising Materials
- Sample marketing/advertising poster from SAMHSA