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Rural Health Information Hub

Recruiting, Hiring, and Employment Considerations

It is essential that community health workers (CHWs) have a strong understanding of, and connection to, the community they serve. Often, CHWs are recruited from the target population and then trained. CHWs may be recruited through formal or informal networks.

Another important factor in recruiting CHWs revolves around how a CHW will fit into an organization and contribute to achieving the program goals. A program's scope and community needs will also drive CHW recruitment strategies. Employment status of CHWs should also be considered prior to recruitment, including work schedule, duration of employment, and payment (paid or unpaid). Options to consider include:

  • Paid employee, via stipend, salary, or hourly wages
  • Volunteer
  • Volunteer with stipend
  • Full- or part-time
  • Seasonal (especially for CHWs serving migrant communities) or year-round
  • Positions tied to short-term grant funding

When recruiting CHWs — especially for volunteer positions — organizations must develop and clearly communicate the CHW's requirements and responsibilities. Essential information to convey to CHWs during recruitment includes: expectations, desired knowledge and skills, desired background or experiences (for example, veterans, individuals who have experience with specific health conditions, individuals who have been incarcerated), time commitments, required travel, compensation or benefits packages, and career development opportunities, if any. Reviewing sample job descriptions can provide some ideas for how to convey the requirements and responsibilities to potential candidates.

CHWs are considered to be trusted and familiar in their community. It is important to ensure CHW candidates are involved with and knowledgeable about the communities they will serve, and have specific skills and qualities deemed essential by the program. Multiple recruitment approaches can be implemented at the same time, and include outreach through traditional and nontraditional media, venues, and events, such as:

  • Radio and television programming
  • Websites and social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and X
  • Newspapers
  • Posters and fliers
  • Churches and other community groups
  • Community meetings or discussions with community members
  • Recreational centers
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Schools (for example, parent-teacher organizations)
  • Social events such as dances, fairs, and sporting events
  • Worksites and local businesses
  • CHW associations or groups
  • Employment agencies
  • Word of mouth
  • Referrals from current or former CHWs
  • Internal recruitment within the organization

Hiring processes for CHWs are also likely to include interviews to assess candidates' experiences, qualities, and skills. Individuals who might participate in the interview process could include: members of the care delivery team (if applicable), other CHWs, program leadership, partners, members of the target community, and others. In addition to standard questions and discussions of position logistics, interview processes for CHWs may also integrate role playing exercises, activities to assess candidate problem-solving processes and skills, and other creative interviewing strategies. It is also important to assess the candidate's comfort with performing specific job duties, such as traveling to clients' homes or talking about sensitive subjects.

Hiring managers can then compare interview performance against the hiring criteria, incorporating recommendations from community stakeholders when possible. In anticipation of the hiring process, implementing organizations should also consider how additional income might affect CHWs' receipt of public assistance or benefits so that they can convey this information to applicants.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) indicates that more information is needed about CHW recruitment, including selection criteria and matching characteristics, as well as optimal methods for training, supervising, and evaluating the performance of CHWs.

For additional information regarding staff recruitment and retention for rural programs, see Implementation Considerations in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Tips for Recruiting & Hiring Promotores(as) and Community Health Workers as Employees
Outlines considerations for community health worker recruitment, hiring, retention, and recognition.
Organization(s): MHP Salud

Recruitment and Retention
Compiles resources related to the selection, recruitment, and retention of CHWs.
Organization(s): CHW Central