Episode #104 – The REAL Cost of Not Hiring the Veterinarians You Need

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter and search consultant, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers hire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the real cost associated with not hiring the veterinarians you need.

Hello, Stacy, and that you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Samantha. As always, I’m glad to be here.

Samantha: Stacy, in our previous podcast episode, we discussed “The Danger of Keeping a Position Open for Too Long.” Today’s episode dovetails on that one, does it not?

Stacy: It does. Whereas our previous episode addressed keeping a position open for too long in general, regardless of the industry in which it happens, today we’re going to talk specifically about the Veterinary profession.

And I want to start our discussion with a phone call that I had recently.

Samantha: What phone call was that?

Stacy: I was speaking with the president of one of The VET Recruiter’s clients. During the conversation, this president mentioned that for each veterinarian he hires, that veterinarian typically brings in around $400K per year for the organization. Not only that, but he also mentioned that he needed to find and hire eight veterinarians. He added that if could do so as quickly as possible, he would save about $3.2 million in revenue.

Samantha: Wow, that is a lot of money! That’s even more than I thought it would cost an organization to keep a position open for too long, based on our previous podcast episode.

Stacy: As I mentioned, the Veterinary profession is different from other industries in the employment marketplace. Right now, the unemployment rate in the country overall is the lowest that’s been since 1969. At the end of September, the unemployment rate was only 3.7%. It’s a really tight job market right now, but it’s even tighter within the Veterinary profession.

Samantha: Stacy, what does that mean, exactly?

That means there are many employers looking for the Veterinary professionals they need. Not only that, but there is also a lack of qualified candidates. There are a couple of statistics that I’ve used in my newsletter articles and podcasts throughout this year, but I’d like to highlight them again because they illustrate the type of market it is within the Veterinary profession.

First, according to DVM360 Magazine article published last year and titled “The Year Ahead: Things Are Looking Bright for the Veterinary Profession,” the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession fell from 1.5% to 0.5% during 2017.

Second, earlier in 2018, I was at a Veterinary tradeshow in Las Vegas. During that tradeshow, I attended an analytics session. During that session, I was told that there is currently one veterinarian applicant for every five Veterinary job openings right now.

Samantha: So the conditions that exist in this candidates’ market is making things even more challenging within the Veterinary profession?

Stacy: Yes, absolutely. It makes it more challenging because it’s more difficult for Veterinary practices and employers to fill their most important open positions in a timely manner.

Samantha: And the longer that a position stays open, the more money that the practice owner or employer is losing.

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct. In fact, let’s use the figure that the president gave to me as an example. He said that his veterinarian bring in $400K per year. So if one of those positions remains open, it means that if the position is open for one month, the organization has lost $33,333. If it’s open for three months, it’s lost $100K, and if it’s open for six months, the organization has lost $200K.

Samantha: In our previous podcast, you relayed a case study where a position had been open for six months. If one of these veterinarian positions remained open for the same amount of time, the organization would lose $200K.

Stacy: That’s right. And that’s not a figure that I gave to this president. I wasn’t trying to convince him that he would lose money if he kept the position open for too long. Instead, he provided this figure to me. He already knew that if he wasn’t able to hire quality veterinarians in a short amount of time, his organization was going to lose a tremendous amount of money.

Samantha: Would you say that this knowledge gave the president of the organization an advantage in their approach to hiring?

Stacy: Absolutely! The president knew that the clock was literally ticking and that he had to fill these positions with the best possible candidates as quickly as possible.

Samantha: That’s why he was talking with you?

Stacy: That’s why he was talking with me. And now I’d like to dispel another misconception and debunk another myth.

Samantha: What’s that?

Stacy: There is a misconception that using a search consultant or recruiter to help fill a position “costs you money.” In fact, there are some hiring authorities who might believe that a recruiter is an unnecessary cost and that the services of a search consultant should not be enlisted due to cost.

Samantha: But this president did not think so.

Stacy: No, he did not. That’s why he wanted my help in filling his positions. He knew that as a search consultant, I could save him far more money than I would cost him. Sure, his organization would pay a recruiting fee for each of the positions I helped to fill. But ultimately, the amount of the recruiting fees would be far less than the amount of money that those veterinarians I placed would bring to the organization over the course of a year.

Samantha: Which was over $3 million dollars. 3.2 million to be exact.

Stacy: That’s right. Just looking at the numbers, you can see how a search consultant saves an organization money, as opposed to costing it money. And this is especially the case in the Veterinary profession, where qualified candidates are in short supply. We had one of our veterinarian candidates who we placed recently show us the revenue she was generating for our client’s practice. In the first month she was there, she generated more revenue for the client than the investment of our fee. Now the client could have left that position open for even one more month and would have lost twice as much money as our fee. They saw our fee as a necessary investment, not a cost to them.

Samantha: And based on the figures we just discussed, if you’re a Veterinary practice or organization, wouldn’t you want to fill an open position with a qualified candidate as quickly as possible?

Stacy: Right. You’re losing more money with each passing day. A couple of years ago, The VET Recruiter conducted a survey of Animal Health and Veterinary candidates. As part of that survey, we asked how long candidates would stay in a hiring process. Nearly 30% of respondents indicated that they would bow out of a hiring process if it lasted more than four weeks.

Samantha: And based on these numbers, after four weeks, that Veterinary employer would have already lost more than $33K (33 thousand dollars).

Stacy: That’s correct. So if candidates don’t want to stick around for more than a month and the organization will lose $33K if its waits more than a month to fill a position, why would you possibly want to wait that long? The answer that question is that you wouldn’t. It doesn’t make any sense.

Samantha: So as we stated in our previous podcast and as the president in your case study clearly believes, the answer is hiring a search consultant or veterinary recruiter.

Stacy: Yes. That’s because an experienced search consultant or veterinary recruiter has answers to the questions tied to filling a position with the best candidate in the shortest amount of time possible.

Who knows where the most qualified candidates are? A search consultant does.

Who can convince these candidates that an employment opportunity is the next best step in their career? A search consultant or veterinary recruiter can.

Who can keep these candidates engaged during the interviewing and hiring process, so they don’t drop out of that process? A search consultant or veterinary recruiter can.

And who can close the top candidate at the end of the hiring process and convince them to accept the offer of employment? A search consultant or veterinary recruiter can.

Samantha: It would seem that using a search consultant or veterinary recruiter is more of an investment in the future and prosperity of an organization.

Stacy: That’s a great way of looking at it. Using a search consultant is an investment, and it’s a smart investment. After all, filling eight Veterinarian openings would bring a return on that investment of more than $3 million dollars. That’s the way the president of this client viewed the situation.

Samantha: So using a recruiter is not a “sunk cost”?

Stacy: Absolutely not. Hiring a Veterinary recruiter is NOT a “sunk cost.” It is an intelligent investment in the future of a practice or organization. It’s a strategic investment that can give an employer a competitive advantage in the marketplace, so that it can hire the best talent there is.

Samantha: The president of your client, would you say that his outlook regarding hiring and search consultants is typical or rare among Veterinary organizations?

Stacy: I would say that overall no his viewpoint is not rare. We have many repeat clients that come back to us because they view hiring talent as their biggest concern and they don’t want to lose money keeping a position vacant. Unfortunately there are some hiring authorities and hiring managers who continue to work under mistaken assumptions about where the real costs are in terms of hiring. This can be frustrating for search consultants like myself who want to help these organizations as much as possible. However, to enjoy hiring success, company officials must have the proper mindset and they must have the proper approach to the process.

Without the proper mindset and the proper approach, their efforts will be in vain and they could find themselves still trying to fill an important position months later or having to fill that position with a subpar candidate. And neither of those options is very attractive.

Samantha: Stacy, thank you for joining us today and for sharing all of this great information with our listeners.

Stacy: Thank you, Samantha. It’s my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health Employment Insider!