Episode #183 – What Employers May Not Realize About Veterinary Hiring During the Pandemic

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #183 - What Employers May Not Realize About Veterinary Hiring During the Pandemic
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health thought leader and executive recruiter and veterinary recruiter, Stacy Pursell 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 animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we will be talking about what employers do not realize about Animal Health and Veterinary hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

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

Julia: Stacy, we talk about both job candidate and employer issues on our podcasts, and we try to split the time that we devote to both parties pretty evenly. Lately, though, we’ve been focusing on employer issues, and that is the case again today. Is there a specific reason for that?

Stacy: Good questions Julea. Well, much has happened in the employment marketplace and the job market during the past six months. A tremendous amount, as a matter of fact, and it’s not just how much things have changed, but it’s also how quickly they have changed. We are truly living in unprecedented times, and we’re not done yet. 2020 will certainly have more challenges for all of us before it is over.

In our previous two podcast episodes, we discussed the opportunities that still exist in the Veterinary profession despite the pandemic and we also addressed the importance of being an Animal Health or Veterinary technology organization. Today, I am going to talk about some things that employers may not realize about Animal Health and Veterinary hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julea: Okay, where would you like to start today Stacy?

Stacy: Julea, I would like to start with the fact that we are indeed more than likely in a recession. After more than 20 years as an Animal Health Executive Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter, I have been through more than my fair share of recessions, and that includes The Great Recession. There are certain things that happen during recessions, and we’ve seen some of those things happen during this recession.

Specifically, companies and organizations in a number of industries have laid off employees and also instituted hiring freezes. In addition, tens of millions of people have applied for unemployment benefits. In fact, estimates put the number at close to 50 million people.

I want to once again reference one of our most recent podcast episodes, the one about there still being opportunity in the Veterinary profession. That is because that fact cannot be overstated. A good number of my clients, which are Veterinary employers, have told me that their business has been up since the pandemic started. In fact, believe it or not, I recently had one of my clients tell me that their business is up 72% over this same time last year!

Julea: Up 72%? Really? That is amazing Stacy!

Stacy: Yes, I know that might be difficult to believe with everything going on in the country and the headlines that you see in the newspaper and online, but it is true. The point is that conditions in the Veterinary profession do not reflect conditions in the employment marketplace at large. The bottom line is that conditions are not as bad in the Veterinary profession as they are overall, which we’ve mentioned before. One indication of that is the unemployment rate in the profession, which is certainly nowhere double digits, as it is on the national level.

Julea: What does this mean for employers?

Stacy: That’s an excellent question, and one that I want to answer during today’s podcast episode. One of the things that typically happens during a recession is that employers become a bit lax when it comes to their hiring habits.

Julea: If they are hiring, correct? We were just talking about the fact that quite a few employers are laying off employees and are continuing to do so.

Stacy: Yes, if they are hiring, and right now, there are many employers that have hiring needs in the Veterinary profession. So that means those employers that have hiring needs cannot afford to become lax in their habits.

To illustrate this, I’d like to read part of a message that someone sent to me after reading one of the articles on The VET Recruiter website. This person does not work in the Animal Health or Veterinary profession, but they agreed with my article, which was about respecting the time and confidentiality of job candidates during the hiring process. This is what this person said:

“I read your article. This happened to me where the second interview was rescheduled three times.  There were multiple openings at a major firm. I knew then I wasn’t high priority. I was advised to write a thank-you letter for the interview. But it felt wrong in this case, as they were so disrespectful of my time. I think there are many unemployed due to COVID-19 and employers are being ultra-picky and some are being downright arrogant.”

Julea: Wow, downright arrogant! That’s strong language!

Stacy: Yes, it is, but this sometimes happens during down economic times. Because there is a recession, some hiring officials believe they do not have to respect candidate’s time. Because there are so many unemployed people out there, they believe they have the leverage, and because of that, they become lax in their habits and lax in the way that they treat job candidates.

Julia: That sounds like a mistake Stacy.

Stacy: It IS a mistake, especially in the Veterinary profession! There are certain things that employers may not realize about hiring in the Veterinary profession, and they need to know them.

Julea: What are they?

Stacy: First, the best candidates and the top talent are still in the marketplace. They didn’t go anywhere because of the pandemic, and they didn’t go anywhere because of the recession.

Second, more than likely, they did not lose their job. That’s because they represent the top 5% to 10% of the Veterinary employees in the market. Employers usually do not lay off people who are in the top 5% to 10% in their field. So these professionals are not looking for a new job because they still have a job.

Julea: So . . . it is pretty much the same situation that we have before the pandemic started.

Stacy: That’s right! Just like before the pandemic, the best candidates in the marketplace are gainfully employed. And that leads us to the third thing that employers should know about Veterinary hiring right now, that top talent is not looking for new jobs or pursuing other employment opportunities. That means in order to get their attention, employers must be able to identify who these candidates are and actively recruit them to get them to consider their open positions

The pandemic and the recession have not changed these realities within the Veterinary profession. That’s because there was a huge hiring need and a lack of qualified candidates before the pandemic. And as a result of the opportunities that the pandemic has created within the profession, which we’ve discussed in recent weeks, there is still a hiring need. And as you might expect, employers still want to hire the best candidates possible to fill their open positions.

Julea: Stacy, that all makes sense. What else might not employers be realizing about Veterinary hiring during the pandemic?

Stacy: The fourth thing is actually two sides of the same coin. Those two sides are engagement during the hiring process and employer branding. That’s because how an organization engages candidates during the hiring process has a direct impact on its employer brand.

Julea: This pertains to the person who wrote to you about their experience with an employer that keep rescheduling interviews, right?

Stacy: That’s absolutely right. Veterinary employers must continue to engage job candidates effectively during the hiring process. Just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic and a recession, that doesn’t mean that you can become lax and not put forth the kind of effort that’s necessary. Veterinary employers by no means have the kind of leverage right now to be able to do that, regardless of what the larger job market looks like.

And there is a lot involved in terms of effectively engaging job candidates during the hiring process. There are multiple articles on The VET Recruiter website that address this topic, and I know that we’ve touched on it before on our podcast. The important thing to remember in today’s podcast, that effectively engaging candidates is just as important now as it was a year ago. The pandemic has not made it any less important, not if you want to hire the best job candidates possible.

Julea: Stacy, just to recap because I know that we do not have a lot of time, but what would you say are the essential things that employers should do to engage job candidates?

Stacy: I would say there is actually one essential thing, and it all boils down one word: respect.

Julea: Respect? Tell us more Stacy.

Stacy: Respect is important not only to job candidates, but also to employees, and for that matter, prospective job candidates who might become employees. I’ll explain what I mean.

Job candidates, especially top candidates, want to feel as though they’re being respected during the hiring process. There are many things that employers should do to make them feel respected. They included communicating with the candidates often, setting expectations, and actively selling both the opportunity and the employer. Once again, just because we’re in a pandemic, that doesn’t mean you can stop recruiting top talent. The fact of the matter is that top talent is always going to need to be recruited.

Two of the most important ways to show respect job candidates, though, is to respect both their time and their confidentiality.

Julea: We have discussed this before, haven’t we?

Stacy: Yes, we have, and once again, it goes back to the person who wrote to me after reading my article. Respecting candidates’ time means not interviewing three or four interviews or conducting interviews that last all day long, even if they’re virtual interviews or video interviews.

Respecting candidates’ confidentiality means respecting their wishes to keep the fact that they are exploring other job opportunities from their employer. One of the ways that hiring managers breach this confidentiality is by conducting reference checks on a candidate by communicating with people they know in the industry and asking questions about the candidate, even though the person they’re talking to is not on the candidate’s approved list of references.

Julea: Really? Hiring managers do that?

Stacy: I know for a fact that they’ve done that. I have unfortunately seen situations in which a hiring manger conducted this type of reference check. I have heard candidates say that they do not want to work for an employer that would do such a thing.

Julea: And I imagine that is poor employer branding.

Stacy: You must remember that candidates believe what they see during the hiring process is what they will see after they get hired. If an organization does not show respect to them during the hiring process, then will absolutely believe that same organization will not show them respect once they become an employee. As a result, the candidate will lose interest in both the opportunity and the employers almost instantly.

Respect has become a huge issue in the marketplace, and this has especially been the case with younger candidates and top candidates. So if you have a group of candidates who are either Millennials or Generation Z and they’re also top candidates, you’d better believe that respect is a huge issue for them, both during the hiring process and also after they’re hired and they become an employee.

There is never a time when an organization does not have to pay attention to the amount of respect that they pay to job candidates or their own employees.

Julea: Stacy, we are just about out of time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we end today’s episode?

Stacy: Yes, there is. These are trying and difficult times for all of us. We all know that we’re living in unprecedented times and that our personal and professionals lives have been turned upside down. However, I believe that times like these bring out the best in people, and that includes in the world of employment. Despite everything that’s happened what continues to happen on a daily basis, I believe there is no reason that people can’t act professionally and treat each other with respect. I know that I’ve seen instances that run contrary to that since the first of the year, but as I said, I believe in the best in people. And I look forward to seeing both individuals and organizations step forward during the next several months to meet the challenges and overcome the obstacles that exist in the world and the marketplace.

Julea: Stacy, thank you once again for all this great information. And for those people who are considering a job change be sure to look through the hot jobs on The VET Recruiter website.

Stacy: Yes, for those listeners who want to change their current situation and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite them to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. We have numerous job opportunities available on our site, and new ones are posted on a regular basis.

Julea: Employers if you have a critical hiring need be sure to reach out to Stacy as well. Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It has been my pleasure Julea, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!