Shut the Revolving Door - Part 4: Recruiting
Louise S. Dunn
Ms. Dunn, a former practice manager, is owner of Snowgoose Veterinary Management Consulting. Besides consulting with veterinary practices, she has taught practice management workshops at 10 veterinary schools and publishes and speaks nationally. She is a founding member and a director of the Association of Veterinary Management Consultants and Advisors, Member of the AAHA Leadership Council of 100, involved in the national VPI Leadership Council and member of the VHMA and AVMLA.
Establishing and maintaining a positive brand for your practice are essential when recruiting new talent.
Hiring and retaining an exceptional veterinary team involves more than posting a job opening and interviewing potential employees. As discussed in the first three parts of this series, this involved yet rewarding process begins with creating and maintaining accurate job descriptions (December 2017), progresses with developing benefits packages and reward programs (January 2018), and requires continued communication with team members (February 2018).
These strategies must be implemented to halt the high turnover that many practices face. The benefits of viewing employee retention as an ongoing process far outweigh the extra time and training required. The final component in building a solid veterinary team with staying power centers on recruitment and the myriad ways to influence public perception about your clinic.
Branding encompasses your practice’s values, culture and community presence, as well as how you conduct yourself. In many ways, branding boils down to perception and is unique to every potential employee. One of the best ways for a practice
to influence and shape its brand is by monitoring current perceptions.
- Part 1: Job Descriptions and Skills Gaps
- Part 2: Salary and Benefits
- Part 3: Stay and Exit Interviews
Remember, a job interview isn’t one-sided; candidates are evaluating you, too. Job seekers have researched your practice, looked at your website, tapped into social media and scoured
the internet for bits of information they can
gather about your team, your community presence and your business activities. Job seekers today are more connected than in years past. They form a perception about your practice before applying for the job or arriving for an interview. What are they seeing? What do employer review websites such as Glassdoor or Indeed say about your practice?
Numerous management-based websites say that one of the best ways to attract the right job candidate is to have current employees refer their friends. What do your employees tell others about their workplace? As you may recall from Part 3 of this series, conducting stay and exit interviews offers a wonderful way to learn what team members value about the work environment and what should be fixed (February 2018). This same information will help establish your brand and uncover whether your employees are serving as brand ambassadors or your biggest critics.
Whether job seekers learn about your practice online or by word of mouth, consistency is key. When a job posting’s description of the workplace differs greatly from public perception, it creates a disconnect that will make it more difficult to attract qualified candidates.
You’ve done your research to ascertain what a candidate will learn about your practice from an initial search. But branding doesn’t stop there.
You have to ensure that every step of the process enhances the experience you want the candidate to associate with your brand. Consider the application process:
- Can candidates apply online?
- Can they apply via a mobile app?
- Do callers receive a positive message?
- Is the reception staff aware of the job posting and its details?
Make sure you’ve covered all your bases by simplifying the application process as best you can and providing necessary staff with the job description or a script for potential inquiries. A positive application experience may garner additional positive reviews about your practice and, in turn, attract more candidates.
Consider who will be interviewing the top candidates. These interviews will likely be among the first in-person interactions job seekers have with your practice, but all too often, the management team is forgotten in the recruiting process. Take the time to educate managers on how to listen, how to ask the right questions, what questions are illegal and should be avoided, and how to use the job description and skills list to really dig in to what each candidate has to offer.
It is not uncommon for a candidate to arrive
for an interview, be held up in the waiting room (perhaps the front desk was unaware of the scheduled interview) and then get handed off to someone — anyone — who is available. Perhaps unforeseen events, such as a patient emergency, tied up the person who intended to conduct the interview,
but this situation doesn’t lend itself to the kind of “wow” experience you wanted to deliver — not to mention that a poor candidate experience can hurt your brand.
The Recruiting Process
One of the best ways to ensure a smooth and successful hiring experience is to fine-tune your recruiting process before you need to use it. Institute a protocol, and train your management team. Consider these steps:
- Job description. Provide samples of what the post should include, know what job boards to use, update your website’s career page, create an employee referral program and use your established social media presence.
- Candidate experience. Provide easy-to-access applications, outline the steps in the process and inform the team who will conduct interviews.
- Application. Provide alternative
processes, allowing candidates to either complete a paper form you keep on file or submit an online profile.
- Interview process. Establish
a list of questions and plan a tour of the practice.
- Job offer. Plan how the final candidate will be determined, and prepare an offer letter.
- Onboarding and orientation. Create a schedule for the onboarding process, and prepare all necessary paperwork to be completed.
Your recruiting team should be involved in creating the steps and documents and familiarize them- selves with the process so it can be implemented at a moment’s notice. Why at a moment’s notice?
Some of your best hires may be passive candidates — people who are not actively searching for a job but stumble upon your practice. A passive candidate might be a current client or a friend of an employee. Your recruiting team needs to be ready to conduct an unscheduled interview.
What’s In It For You?
Notice that the focus of this article is preparation: preparing your brand, preparing the recruiting team, preparing for the candidate experience. Do not leave the recruiting process to chance. Your practice needs to be ready for both passive candidates and active job seekers.
If your goal is to hire the most qualified, professional candidate, why would you present an unprofessional, unprepared business and recruiting team? Devote some time to managing your brand and establishing a recruitment process that is always ready, and you will be rewarded with new hires who are in it for the long haul.
Ms. Dunn is an award-winning speaker, writer and consultant who brings over 40 years of in-the- trenches experience and business education to veterinary management. She is founder and CEO of Snowgoose Veterinary Management Consulting, which helps veterinarians devel- op strategic plans that consistently produce results.