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Recruiting and Hiring Veterinarians in a Challenging Market

It takes a lot to successfully recruit and hire veterinarians in this current market. That’s because today’s market is as challenging as it’s ever been for Veterinary practices, hospitals, and other employers.


Objectives in hiring veterinarians

How you treat your employees and what you give to them is part of your employer brand and your company culture, but how you treat and interact with job candidates during the hiring process is also part of your employer brand. In fact, you want to have two main objectives during the hiring process:

  1. Effectively engage candidates
  2. Communicate your employer branding, part of which is your company culture.

Communication is the key to achieving both of these objectives, and once again, this is where you can gain an edge over larger employers. That’s because bigger employers might have to deal with many more applicants and job candidates. As a result, it could be more difficult to maintain a high level of communication with all of them. This is where your organization could get an advantage.

When you don’t communicate with candidates during the hiring process, they’ll think that you don’t believe it’s worth your time. If they think you don’t believe they’re worth your time, then they won’t believe that your opportunity is worth their time. In the mind of candidates, how often and how well you communicate with them represents how important you think they are.

So communication is critical during the hiring process for multiple reasons, one of which being the need to effectively engage top candidates so they don’t opt out of the process.


How to keep veterinarians engaged

Below are five iron-clad ways to keep a candidate engaged in the recruiting and hiring process:

#1—Explain the position and its responsibilities thoroughly.

This starts with the position description and should continue through the phone screening and the face-to-face interviews. First of all, the job description should be compelling. You must do more than just list a bunch of duties and responsibilities. Yes, those are important, but you must also “sell” the position and frame it as being part of a larger opportunity. Then you must make sure that the candidates have a complete understanding of everything, from the job duties and responsibilities to how this opportunity will positively impact their career. If they don’t have that understanding, then they will not be engaged.

#2—Paint an accurate and compelling picture of the company culture.

This is not a good time to turn on the “spin machine.” Communicate to candidates what it is really like to work for your organization. There are obviously reasons that people enjoy working there, or there would be nobody working there. Identify those reasons why people work there and what keeps them there and present them to candidates in a way that will allow them to mentally project themselves into the position and the organization. Visualizing themselves working for your company is an engaging act all by itself. Do NOT underestimate the importance of company culture in today’s employment marketplace.


The importance of company culture in hiring

There are two other areas of your organization’s company culture that you should be prepared to address:

#1—Workplace flexibility

The truth be told, this was a concern for candidates before the COVID-19 pandemic even started, but it’s even more so now. That’s because the pandemic has forced some organizations to allow employees to work from home. Of course, that’s not an option for Veterinary practices, which must have employees on site for animal care. (Although video and virtual care have become more prevalent over the course of the last several months.)

In this current market, top candidates are looking for more workplace flexibility. This includes working the days of the week that they work and and the hours they work. These are all things they are going to want to know before they decide whether or not accept an offer of employment to work for your organization.

#2—Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DEI)

Like workplace flexibility, DEI was a concern before the pandemic began, and considering everything that’s happened in 2020, it’s become even more a point of focus. For some candidates, diversity and inclusion are among their core values. Since that’s the case, if they explore new employment opportunities, then they’ll only consider accepting an offer of employment from an organization that aligns with their core values.

Keep in mind that these days, an Veterinary organization can’t be unclear in their stance regarding DEI. They must have a clearly set position regarding these issues and be able to communicate this position to candidates during the hiring process. In fact, you have to do more than communicate. You must strive to overcommunicate in regards to this especially considering the pandemic and the extraordinary steps organization must take during the recruiting and hiring process.

#3—Respect the candidates’ time AND their confidentiality.

Some hiring managers might cringe at this statement, but top candidates’ time is every bit as valuable as your time. In fact, if you’re trying to hire said candidates, then it might possibly be that their time is more valuable. In addition, top candidates want the confidentiality of their job search guarded closely. They do NOT want their current employer to discover what they’re doing. Breaching that confidentiality does not keep them engaged in your hiring process.

#4—Handle the offer of employment negotiations fairly and honestly.

The offer and salary negotiation stage could be the most important and sensitive part of the hiring process. If you’re dealing with a top candidate, chances are good that they might receive offers from multiple companies. Since that’s the case, you should be ready, willing, and able to negotiate your initial offer. At the very least, you should be able to consider a candidate’s negotiation stance. If you act dismissive or come across with a “take it or leave it” attitude, then guess what? The candidate will probably leave it.

The reason that you’re doing this is simple: top candidates are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them.

(Request a free consultation from The VET Recruiter to discuss your veterinarian hiring needs and how we can help you.)


How to ‘sell’ a job to a veterinarian

So what should you be doing during these interviews? You should be “selling.” The only question is what should you be “selling”? There are five things that you should sell to job candidates during the hiring process:

#1—The position itself

This, of course, makes the most sense. However, it goes beyond just the job description.  That can be tedious and bland if all you talk about are requirements, skills, and experience. It this is a top candidate, they already meet those criteria. Instead, make it compelling.

#2—The position’s potential for growth

Then go beyond the position in its current form and discuss what the position could be and how the position ties into the company’s plans for the future. A-level candidates thrive on vision, so share that vision with them.

#3—The organization’s potential for growth

Part of sharing that vision is sharing the company’s potential for achieving growth within the marketplace. Top candidates want to be part of a winner, so show them how your company already is a winner and will be in the future.

#4—The company’s culture

This point is often overlooked, but doing so can be a serious mistake. The candidate wants to know that the position is going to be a fit, and that includes how they fit into the company’s culture. You must be able to communicate that to them.

#5—The candidate’s potential for growth

When you get right down to it, this whole process is about the candidate . . . mainly because they are the one being sold. They want to know how making the leap to a new company is going to benefit them, especially in regards to the growth and overall well-being of their career.


How to hire veterinarians: onboarding

So let’s say that you do sell successfully to a candidate, and as a result, you’re able to hire them. Now it’s time for us to address the onboarding process. In the description for this presentation, I referred to the “overlooked importance” of the onboarding process. I did that because some organizations underestimate its importance. Doing so is dangerous, though, especially with top candidates. You’ve probably heard of the practice of “ghosting,” which is when a job candidate fails to show up for something. That something could be something as small as a phone screen or as big as their first day of work.

In the latter situation, when a new employee fails to show up for their first day of work, inattention to the onboarding process is usually a contributing factor. And once again, if you want to out-hustle and out-hire the competition, then you must pay careful attention to your organization’s onboarding process for new employees.

There are two distinct phases associated with onboarding.

Phase 1: Acceptance to Employment

The first phase actually begins when the candidate accepts your offer of employment. The initial phase of onboarding typically involves the two-week period between the time the candidate accepts and the day they start employment. This phase is important for two reasons:

  1. Some hiring managers don’t realize that this two-week period is part of the onboarding process.
  2. Since the new employee is not physically at the company, the process becomes more difficult.

During this two-week period, the candidate must be reassured that they’ve made the correct decision. That’s because the candidate is susceptible. Their current employer might make a counter-offer to them, or if they’re interviewing with multiple organizations, another employer could make an offer. There might be other factors at play, including family considerations.

To help combat this, company officials, including the candidate’s future boss, can make phone calls to the candidate to welcome them aboard and express their excitement about their hire. Organizations need to go above and beyond to make a candidate feel wanted and to assure them that they’ve made the correct decision. Even sending emails to the candidate will make a difference.

Phase 2: Start of Employment

Like the first phase, this phase involves giving the employee what they need. This includes all of the paperwork and housekeeping details associated with bringing in a new employee. The candidate should have access to everything they need to be successful at their job. This includes all hardware and software tools, a parking permit (if applicable), a map of the building, etc.

There are three ways that employees should be engaged once they begin employment during this second phase:

  1. They should receive any and all training that’s necessary, including what’s specific to their job requirements, as well as training that’s specific to the company itself.
  2. They should be interacting with as many of their co-workers as possible, especially those with whom they will be working closely. Not only will this help them to get up to speed more quickly, but it will also help them to assimilate more easily into the company culture.
  3. The employee’s manager should be working closely with the employee and letting them know exactly what’s expected of them, both in the short term and the long term. At the same time, they should be discussing and setting goals for the employee, once again both in the short and long terms.

Engagement holds the key to an effective onboarding process, and as we’ve already discussed, it requires an investment of time, energy, and effort.

Ultimately, there are two big reasons why the onboarding process is important. First, you want candidates who you’ve hired as new employees to show up for their first day of work. And second, you want to retain your new hires as employees for as long as you possibly can. In this day and age, it’s impossible for organizations to hold onto their top employees for their entire career, but the longer, the better.

(Get a quote from the VET Recruiter regarding our services for employers and how we can help your organization hire more veterinarians.)


How to hire veterinarians: bonus tips

With this in mind, there are two bonus tips for making your organization’s onboarding process as effective as possible:

#1—Don’t hesitate when making the offer.

If you feel like you have the ideal candidate, then don’t hesitate. Don’t think to yourself, “We really should take a look at a few more candidates.”

Hiring managers sometimes think this if they encounter the ideal candidate early in the search. They mistakenly believe that if they found such a great candidate this early, then there might be an even better candidate out there and they just need to keep searching.

If you’ve found the ideal candidate, then make the offer!

#2—Make the candidate feel wanted.

This is perhaps the most overlooked part of the onboarding process. First, you should make the candidate feel wanted throughout the interview process. Remember, top candidates are typically being courted by multiple organizations. If you don’t make them feel wanted, then your competition will.

Second, just because a candidate accepted your offer, that does not mean they no longer need to feel wanted. Quite the contrary: they may need to feel even more wanted now. Why is that? Because they want to assure themselves that they’ve made the correct decision.

If you (and others within your organization) make them feel wanted, then they are more likely to believe they made the correct decision. As mentioned above, you should be doing this during the interview process and during the onboarding process.


Hiring veterinarians with the help of a recruiter

If you’re still wondering how to hire veterinarians in this challenging job market, another option is to partner with an experienced and reputable recruiting firm. The right recruiting firm has the expertise you need to navigate the challenges and obstacles of the employment marketplace. In addition, they’ve build relationships with the top talent in the Veterinary profession. We’re talking about the “best of the best,” the top 5% to 10% of the candidates in the job market.

And these are not active job seekers, either. They are passive candidates who are not actively looking for a new position, but they would be open to hearing about an opportunity if it was clearly better than their current job. And that’s yet another key to hiring veterinarians: offering them a job that is clearly better—not just a little better—than what they have.


How to hire veterinarians with The VET Recruiter

The VET Recruiter has been helping Veterinary practices, hospitals, and other employers hire veterinarians for more than 20 years. We’ve helped our clients hire veterinarians in every market conceivable, from the Great Recession to the current candidates’ market where there is a severe shortage of veterinarians.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, it will continue to be difficult to hire veterinarians throughout the rest of this decade. That means employers need to give themselves every edge necessary, including by partnering with an experienced recruiting form.

Check out The VET Recruiter’s services for employers and also download our e-brochure for more information about how we can help your organization. And if you’re ready to get started, submit a job order to The VET Recruiter so we can begin the process as soon as possible.

In addition, we invite you to contact us for more information regarding our recruiting process and how The VET Recruiter can help your organization identify, engage, and recruit the best talent in job market.

You can also call (918) 488-3901 or (800) 436-0490 or send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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