Episode #191: Why Employers Are Competing Against the Virus for Animal Health and Veterinary Talent

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #191: Why Employers Are Competing Against the Virus for Animal Health and Veterinary Talent
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter and veterinary recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder, and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies identify and 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’ll be talking about how employers are competing against the COVID-19 virus for Animal Health and Veterinary talent in today’s marketplace. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you.

Julea: So, what exactly do you mean by the title of today’s podcast episode, that employers are competing against the virus for Animal Health and Veterinary talent?

Stacy: Well, I’d like to first talk about what competition for talent actually is. When you boil everything down, anything that prevents an organization from successfully hiring a candidate could be considered competition. For example, if a company makes an offer of employment to a candidate and that candidate turns down the offer because their spouse or significant other doesn’t want to relocate, then the candidate’s spouse could be considered competition.

Julea: So if a candidate doesn’t want to make a move or explore other employment opportunities, no matter the reason, that reason could be considered competition for the organization that wants to hire the candidate?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. It could be the candidate’s spouse, it could be the candidate’s desire to not relocate, it could be the candidate’s children, it could be that the candidate is comfortable where they are and ultimately decides that they don’t want to make a move. In that case, the status quo is the competition that the organization is facing as they try to hire the Animal Health or Veterinary talent that it wants to hire.

Julea: So using that definition, a candidate’s current employer could be considered competition, either because the candidate doesn’t want to leave their current employer or because the employer makes a counter-offer that the candidate accepts. Is that right?

Stacy: That’s absolutely right! And that’s the definition of competition that we’ll be using today as we talk about the COVID-19 virus and pandemic and their impact on the employment marketplace and the job market.

Julea: I have to admit, with the pandemic and the recession that we’re currently experiencing, I thought that maybe there would be less competition for companies that are looking to hire.

Stacy: It’s logical to think that way, but so much depends upon the conditions that exist within certain industries. In the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, the unemployment rate is still lower than what it is nationally, especially in the veterinary profession. Employers are still looking to hire, and there is still a shortage of qualified candidates to fill their open positions. As a result, these employers still have competition for the Animal Health and Veterinary talent that they want to hire. And as we just discussed, anything that prevents them from hiring these candidates could be considered competition.

Julea: We’ve talked a bit about the conditions that exist in the marketplace during recent podcast episodes, haven’t we?

Stacy: Yes, we have discussed the fact that there is still plenty of opportunity for professionals in the Animal Health and Veterinary profession, especially in the veterinary profession. And in fact, this opportunity can be tied directly to the pandemic itself, as more people are adopting pets and more of them are in tune with their pets’ health needs since they’re spending more time with them. As a result, Veterinary clinics have been busy, with business and workload growing in many cases. As a result, the Animal Health industry has also been busy in its effort to keep up with this growth.

Julea: Top candidates had quite a bit of leverage in the marketplace before the pandemic started. Do they still have that much leverage? I would think that they don’t.

Stacy: They might not have as much leverage as they did before the pandemic, but it’s not that much less. There is still a lack of candidates in the marketplace, especially on the Veterinary practice side. There is a shortage of veterinarians and support staff for example.

Julea: So how, exactly, is the virus proving to be competition for employers when it comes to hiring Animal Health and Veterinary talent?

Stacy: Basically, the virus and the pandemic resulting from it have changed the way that people view the job market and the employment landscape. In short, it has caused them to view the job market with more fear and apprehension.

Julea: What are some specific ways that it has caused them to do that?

Stacy: Well, there are a few ways, actually, and I’d like to list those ways.

First, those people with children in a school district that is teaching all or partly in a remote fashion are struggling with childcare concerns.

Second, those people with children in a school district that is teaching in-person are worried, to one degree or another, about the safety and welfare of their children.

Third, people are worried about how safe it is when they go to work.

Fourth, if they’re not worried about how safe it is when they go to work, then they’re worried about how safe it would be for them if they were to take a job with another employer.

And fifth, people are worried about how safe the interviewing and hiring process would be if they were to explore other employment opportunities.

Believe it or not, this is just a sampling of how apprehensive people are right now. As you can see, it’s easy for them to transition into “hunker down mode” as they ride out the pandemic. For example, there are some people who are adamant about not exploring other opportunities until a vaccine has been created and successfully administered to most of the population. The bottom line is that the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for employers seeking to hire top Animal Health and Veterinary talent.

Julea: So all of those ways that you just mentioned are also reasons that people use to not consider or explore other employment opportunities?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right, and this is something that employers must understand and come to terms with. You can’t overcome an objection unless you know why an objection is being made. In other words, you can’t convince a candidate to consider your employment opportunity if you don’t know why they’re hesitant or resistant about considering it in the first place.

Julea: So what can employers do to combat this? How do they overcome these new challenges?

Stacy: Well, believe it or not, the answer is a simple one.

Julea: It is? Why is that?

Stacy: Because the answer is more of what employers should have been doing the entire time, since before the pandemic started.

Julea: What do you mean?

Stacy: There are three main areas that are critical in terms of hiring top Animal Health and Veterinary talent. Those areas are branding, engagement, and communication. Before the pandemic started, there was more than enough competition for employers to deal with. As a result, they should have been focused on these three areas in order to increase their chances of hiring the candidates they wanted to hire.

But now that there is even more competition in the marketplace, employers should be even more focused on these three areas. More competition translates into doing more of what needs to be done to combat that competition.

Julea: That certainly makes sense. Do you have any specific steps that employers can take in this area?

Stacy: I do! In fact, I have five steps that correspond to these three areas.

One, create a dynamic employer brand that attracts the top Animal Health and Veterinary talent in the marketplace.

Two, be more proactive and aggressive in your efforts to identify and recruit top talent, and I’ll talk more about this in just a few minutes.

Three, don’t just communicate but over-communicate to candidates during the recruiting and hiring process to both effectively relay information and also to allay their fears and concerns.

Four, “sell” to candidates throughout the entire process, as well, and do so regarding the aspects of both the position and the organization itself.

And five, plan and execute a thorough and engaging onboarding process, ensuring that once hired, the candidate-turned-employee does not have a “change of heart” and fails to show up for their first day of work.

Julea: So, Stacy, what is the driving force behind all of this? Why is the virus now considered to be competition for employers that are trying to hire top Animal Health and Veterinary talent? I ask the question, but I think I know the answer.

Stacy: What do you think the answer is?

Julea: Is it fear?

Stacy: It IS fear!

Before the pandemic, job seekers and candidates were afraid of making a move for a variety of reasons, including fear of change, fear of the unknown, and the desire to maintain the status quo. Now, all of those same reasons are still at play, and we have another, much larger factor, as well: the COVID-19 virus and pandemic.

So it makes sense that these areas of focus are the same as they were during the candidates’ market that we were experiencing for the past several years. The fact of the matter is that the pandemic has introduced more fear and uncertainty into the marketplace, and because of that, there are more reasons for professionals to not want to consider and explore employment opportunities. And since that’s the case, it is still difficult to hire top candidates.

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

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to refer back to the second item on the list of steps that I mentioned a few minutes ago. That item involved employers being more proactive and aggressive in their efforts to identify and recruit top Animal Health and Veterinary talent.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to leverage the experience and expertise of a recruiter. An animal health recruiter or veterinary recruiter can help with all the steps I have just outlined and even more.

They can identify the best candidates in the marketplace, they can present employment opportunities to those candidates and convince them to consider the opportunities, and they can help “sell” the most attractive aspects of both the position and the organization to the candidates during the interviewing process. Hiring successfully in any environment is tough enough, but it’s even tougher in the current conditions of this pandemic.

That is why using an animal health recruiter or veterinary recruiter as an employer gives you an edge over the competition. And it doesn’t matter if that competition includes other organizations or if it involves the COVID-19 virus itself.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all this great information. For those employers in our listening audience who need help with recruiting and hiring reach out to Stacy through The VET Recruiter website today. For those in our listening audience who are interested in making a job change, check out the hot jobs on The VET Recruiter website today at www.thevetrecruiter.com Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

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