Episode #119 – The “X-Factor” in Hiring Top Candidates in This Job Market

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter, 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 companies land top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that improve their quality of life.

In today’s Animal Health Employment Insider podcast episode, we’ll be talking about the “X-Factor” for hiring top candidates in this current job market. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Samantha. As always, I’m glad to be here. This is our first podcast of the new year!

Samantha: Yes and Stacy, this is an interesting title for today’s podcast episode. What exactly do you mean by the “X-Factor”?

Stacy: Well, we’ve discussed many of the things that attract top candidates in today’s job marketplace. They include the opportunity for career advancement, the chance to gain new skills, and a great company culture. Those are all factors that are well known and well documented.

But today, I want to discuss a factor that isn’t discussed as often, but is still important. I’m calling it the “X-Factor” because it could be the deciding factor in whether or not a candidate accepts an offer of employment. I also call it the “X-Factor” because some hiring managers don’t think about it that much or emphasize it when they’re hiring.

Samantha: They don’t? Why is that?

Stacy: What hiring managers and practice owners have to realize is that top candidates, especially superstar candidates, are not like everyone else. They would be the first ones to acknowledge that, of course, because candidates like that are so hard to find especially right now in this job market. But acknowledging that alone does not mean hiring managers understand what motivates top candidates.

Samantha: And motivation is important?

Stacy: Motivation is extremely important! Hiring authorities absolutely need to know what motivates top candidates. The reason for that simple. If they don’t know what motivates top candidates, then they ultimately will not be able to motivate those candidates. And that includes motivating them to accept an offer of employment and work for their organization.

Samantha: So this “X-Factor” has something to do with the motivation of top candidates?

Stacy: Yes, it does. That’s because the “X-Factor” is a challenge. The best candidates in the marketplace are looking for a challenge. In fact, in many instances, they will not consider another employment opportunity unless they believe it will challenge them.

Samantha: So a challenge is what intrigues them?

Stacy: Yes, and that is part of what makes these candidates so different. Top candidates are hard-wired to crave a challenge. It’s in their DNA, so to speak. They’re intrinsically motivated to excel and to achieve more in their career.

On the other hand, there are some Animal Health and Veterinary professionals who want to be comfortable. They try to stay in the comfort zone and they basically pledge an allegiance to the status quo. But the top candidates in the marketplace are not like that. They want a challenge. They look for a challenge, and that includes in employment opportunities. That’s how they grow their career and strive to reach their potential.

Samantha: But what about money and other compensation? Aren’t these candidates motivated by those things at all?

Stacy: Compensation is not as much of a concern to top candidates. First of all, we just discussed how they’re intrinsically motivated by a challenge. Money and other compensation are extrinsic factors. Second, top candidates are already being compensated well, and they know they can earn the type of money they’re seeking. They’ll either get that money from their current employer or from another employer. When it comes to convincing them to make a move in their career, however, it takes more than just money. You have to offer intangible things, and one of those things is a position that presents a challenge in as many ways as possible.

Samantha: What should employers do, then? How should they position themselves to attract the type of candidates they want to hire for their animal health or veterinary company, especially these top candidates we’ve been discussing?

Stacy: When trying to hire the best candidates, hiring managers must remember to continually emphasize the challenges associated with their employment opportunity. We’ve discussed before on this podcast that employers should “sell” both the opportunity and the organization to candidates. Part of that “selling” should involve for them to emphasize the challenges involved with the opportunity. Top candidates like a challenge. They want to know they will be challenged.

Think about it for a minute. If an Animal Health or Veterinary professional is considering another employment opportunity and they’re a top candidate, there must be something lacking in their current job. It probably is not money, as we just discussed. There’s a good chance they’re just not being challenged enough. That’s why they’re considering other job opportunities in the first place.

Samantha: So that is what’s motivating them?

Stacy: That’s right. Lack of a challenge at their current job is motivating them to look for more of a challenge in the form of a job opportunity with another employer. And since that’s the case, the hiring manager should seize upon the opportunity to present to the candidate what they want.

Samantha: And isn’t it also true that candidates such as these could be interviewing with multiple organizations?

Stacy: That’s absolutely true. They could be interviewing with other employers. As a result, an employer has to assume that these other organizations will also be “selling” themselves to the candidate, and that includes emphasizing the challenges associated with their job opportunity. So the hiring manager can not “drop the ball,” so to speak when it comes to any aspect of “selling” their job opportunity and their organization. They have to assume there is a competitor out there doing everything they can to hire the very same candidate they’re trying to hire.

Samantha: So what does this look like? How and when should a hiring manager or emphasize the challenge of their organization’s opportunity?

Stacy: There are multiple ways.

First, they should emphasize the challenges of the position in the job description. This is before the search for candidates even begins. A great hiring process starts with a great job description.

Second, they should emphasize the challenges of the position during the phone interview. The goal is to get this candidate into a face-to-face interview. That means the hiring manager must intrigue them during the phone interview. Sure, they’re trying to figure out if the candidate is a good fit for the position. But at the same time, the candidate is trying to figure out if the position and the company is a good fit for them. It’s a two-way street, and employers should remember that.

Third, hiring managers should emphasize the challenges of the position during the face-to-face interview. And don’t be shy about it. You’re not going to scare top candidates away with talk of a challenge. As we’ve discussed, they welcome a challenge.

Fourth, hiring managers should emphasize the challenges of working for their organization. They should discuss the vision that the organization has for the future and how the candidate would fit into that vision if they were hired as an employee. It’s important to paint a picture of the future that includes them as a vital piece of that future.

Samantha: So hopefully, as an employer, if you do all of these things, the candidate will accept your offer?

Stacy: That’s right, but it doesn’t stop there.

Samantha: It doesn’t? What do you mean?

Stacy: Because when you hire a top candidate, you must retain them as an employee. It doesn’t make much sense to hire someone like that if they’re just going to quit in a year or two.

Samantha: So how do you retain them?

Stacy: The same way that you hired them: by challenging them!

Top candidates who become valued employees want to advance through the ranks. They want to “move up the ladder” so to speak and grow their careers. An employer must provide opportunities for them to do so, and that includes challenging them. That’s how they advance through the ranks and “move up the career ladder and gain increasing levels of responsibility.” By accepting a challenge and meeting that challenge.

There are a number of things that Animal Health employers and Veterinary employers should do. They include:

  • Offering training related to individual skills or an area within the industry overall
  • Assigning employees to important projects that are essential to the organization’s goals for growth
  • Asking employees specifically which challenges they would like to tackle and why
  • Mapping out a career path for employees and discussing exactly what they have to do to travel down that path with the organization

Samantha: So the things that the employer does to attract the candidate and ultimately to hire them are the same things the employer should do to retain the candidate after they become an employee?

Stacy: That’s absolutely right! And what works for average candidates does not work for top candidates. That’s because, as we’ve discussed, top candidates are different, especially when it comes to matters of motivation.

Samantha: And Animal Health and Veterinary employers should not be settling for average candidates.

Stacy: No, they should not. They should want to identify, attract, engage, hire, and retain the best candidates in the employment marketplace. That is the very definition of hiring success. Anything less than that will bring a subpar return on their investment of time and energy.

Samantha: Stacy, thanks so much for joining us today and providing all of this great information.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Samantha, and thank you. Once again, it’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode!