• One Health
  • Pain Management
  • Oncology
  • Anesthesia
  • Geriatric & Palliative Medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Poultry Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Dermatology
  • Theriogenology
  • Nutrition
  • Animal Welfare
  • Radiology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Small Ruminant
  • Cardiology
  • Dentistry
  • Feline Medicine
  • Soft Tissue Surgery
  • Urology/Nephrology
  • Avian & Exotic
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Anesthesiology & Pain Management
  • Integrative & Holistic Medicine
  • Food Animals
  • Behavior
  • Zoo Medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Orthopedics
  • Emergency & Critical Care
  • Equine Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pediatrics
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Shelter Medicine
  • Parasitology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Virtual Care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Epidemiology
  • Fish Medicine
  • Diabetes
  • Livestock
  • Endocrinology

Are you using the right lure for the right applicant?


You've gone fishing for the best veterinary professionals for your clinic, but you're only reeling in duds. Here are the tools you need to hook a legendary catch.

Photo: Shutterstock.comHave you placed an employment ad only to get a multitude of unacceptable applicants-or even worse, no response at all? You should know that ads in newspapers or just about anywhere in print won't get you what you want. To have any chance of a good response, you need to use the web.

But before we look at best practices, let's look at what you've likely got today:

Receptionist wanted for a veterinary hospital. Applicant must love animals and desire to work in a fast-paced environment.

Tip No. 1: Build a better ad

Not bad, right? Short, sweet and to the point. But what response do you think you'll get to this ad? The correct answer is, anyone and everyone who can walk and talk. The problem is simple: The ad is too simple, not specific enough. Here's an alternative:

Do you want a challenging job in a veterinary hospital? ABC Veterinary Hospital is seeking a highly qualified receptionist to join our team. Applicant must have two years' previous experience as a receptionist in a medical environment, have excellent phone communication skills, customer service experience and data entry abilities …

The details could go on, but the idea is this: the more specific your ad, the better chance your applicant pool will be robust and better qualified. You can download entire sample advertisements by clicking here andhere. (P.S. If “two years' experience in a veterinary hospital as a receptionist” brings in too few people, you can always back off a qualification or two in your next ad. Worth a shot, right?) 

But what about salary?

Whether to include salary or not in job ads is a controversial topic in HR circles. In my opinion, it's best to state a salary in your ad-or at the very least provide the salary range. If you're hiring a veterinary technician and intend to pay $14 an hour but the applicant needs $20 an hour, you're both wasting your time. State the salary as a range-for instance, “$16 to $18 an hour commensurate with skill and ability.”

Tip No. 2: Put your better ad in a better place

Now, let's say you've written an amazing ad. Where do you place the ad? Post on a free, everything-there-and-the-kitchen-sink website like Craigslist, and you're doing the equivalent of posting an ad in the Penny Saver (remember that cheap thing outside grocery stores?). You're probably won't find quality applicants. So, step it up a few notches.

For such positions as veterinary technician, practice manager or DVM, use veterinary-specific websites like veterinarycareernetwork.com, myveterinarycareer.com, your state's veterinary medical association website, state veterinary technician association websites and other veterinary-specific websites to get the job done for you. (Editor's note: You can try a free listing on dvm360's Products360 site to get you started.)

For less technical positions, try local internet employment sites. For instance, where I live in Colorado there's a site called coloradojob.com. I've also used such national sites as monsterjob.com and careerbuilder.com to great success. You may pay a little more, but considering the quality of applicants and the value of your time, this might be a good investment.

Still not getting the quality of applicants you deserve? It could be how you're soliciting applicants. The HR world is ever-changing, as are the employees we hire. As the old adage goes, if you're going to fish, you need to go where the fish are. This is the reason we now use Facebook ads (this'll get you started) and Jobcast to help us acquire employees.

Click to the next page for more tips!


Tip No. 3: Test for drugs

I suggest you require pre-employment drug testing and electronic background checks on all your new hires. Think about this for a minute: You have drugs in your practice and fairly easy access to money. If a job applicant has a problem with drugs and knows your practice doesn't drug test, wouldn't your hospital be the perfect place to work?

Drug and background checks won't break the bank

Today, most companies do pre-employment drug testing. It's simple and costs between $20 to $30 per person to carry out. Remember, pre-employment drug testing is different from a drug-free workplace. In order to establish a drug-free workplace, you need to do a fair amount of work. Check out drugfreeworkplace.org for more on this.

To start conducting pre-employment drug testing, just find a pre-employment drug testing center in your area, acquire a release form from them, and ask your applicants to sign the form and get tested.

It's important to note that if you're going to go through with pre-employment drug testing, you must require it from all applicants regardless of the position they're applying for. Because of this, I recommend making the release form a part of the application process. I normally have applicants complete a pre-employment drug test prior to the working interview so that only one or two people will need to take the test.

Now, for background checks, electronic is the only way to go these days. There are companies such as HireRight and EBI (Employment Background Investigations) that will do electronic background checks for you that include calling employers and listed references. These companies can check criminal backgrounds, driving records, Social Security numbers, education, credit and previous employment, to name a few. You're charged based on the checks you want. Again, applicants need to sign a release form. State in your ad that an electronic background check will be done.

Mark Opperman, CVPM, is co-owner of veterinary consulting firm VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colorado, and co-author of The Art of Veterinary Practice Management.

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