Episode #228 – How You Treat Candidates is the Key to Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring Success

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #228 - How You Treat Candidates is the Key to Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring Success
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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 executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, we will be discussing why the key to Animal Health and Veterinary hiring success is how an organization treats candidates. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here with you. I just returned from the VMX veterinary conference which was fantastic and now I’m glad to be back on our podcast today.

Julea: Stacy, it’s great to be back. I know, Stacy, we recently finished a podcast series about the interview stage of the hiring process for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals. And in our previous episode, we looked at the interview stage from the point of view of Animal Health and Veterinary employers. Today, we’re continuing along that same vein, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, we devoted quite a few episodes to the interview process from the point of view of professionals or candidates. But the employer side of the process is just as important, and for those organizations that want to hire the best candidates in the marketplace, it’s very important.

Julea: Stacy, we’ve discussed the hiring process from the point of view of employers before on the podcast, and we’ve talked about the fact that some employers don’t pay enough attention to what they should be doing to on their side of the process. Does that include the interview stage of the hiring process?

Stacy: Yes, it does, and that’s one of the things we’ll be talking about today, and the main reason we will is because some Animal Health and Veterinary organizations are losing A-player candidates because they’re not treating them the right way during the interviewing and hiring process.

Julea: Stacy, as an experience recruiter with more than 23 years of experience, I imagine that you’ve actually seen this happen on more than one occasion.

Stacy: Oh, yes. I have seen it happen first-hand more than a few times. As a recruiter, I specialize in representing  A-level candidates and presenting those candidates to my clients. Even though I work for my clients, as all recruiters do, I’ve built relationships with many candidates down through the years, and I’ve placed some of them multiple times. Because of the relationships that I’ve build with them, they’re not afraid to tell me if they had a poor experience with an employer. In this case, it would be with one of my clients.

Julea: So they just come right out and tell you about it?

Stacy: Yes, I conduct a debrief with candidates following each interview, and I ask them questions about what happened during the interview and how it went. If it went poorly for any reason, I encourage them to share with me the reason or reasons why.

Julea: I imagine you have quite a few stories about candidates who had poor experiences at an interview.

Stacy: I do, and I have two that I would like to share today.

Julea: Please tell us more Stacy.

Stacy: Okay, in this first story, an employer wants to interview an executive for a C-level position with its organization. However, the employer decides to fly the candidate in and out of town on the same day. Since the employer is doing this, the employer does not have to pay for hotel accommodations for the candidate. Not only that, but the employer also scheduled tight connection flights for the candidate, increasing the chances that the candidate might miss one of the connecting flights.

Julea: Ouch! I know that might have helped the organization, but I’m sure it must have left a sour taste in the candidate’s mouth.

Stacy: There are a number of problems with this situation. First of all, the candidate is going to wonder of the employer is experiencing cash flow problems, since it opted to require them fly in and out on the same day instead of booking a hotel room. And if the employer is not experiencing a cash flow problem, then there might be another reason, at least in the candidate’s mind, why they were flown in and out on the same day.

Julea: What reason is that?

Stacy: That the organization did it because it values saving a buck over providing a premium candidate experience. At some point, the candidate has to ask themselves, “If this is how the organization treats me as a candidate, then how would it treat me if I become an employee?”

Julea: That would be a logical question to ask. I mean, aren’t employers supposed to putting their “best foot forward during the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring process, especially during the interview?

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly right! And those are the questions this candidate was asking. An organization should be doing their best to impress candidates who are interviewing with them. This is especially the case with top A-player candidates. You have to remember that top candidates have the leverage in an Animal Health or Veterinary hiring situation, and this is especially the case in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary profession. These are candidates who are already employed and have options, including staying with their current employer. If a candidate is asking themselves these kinds of questions at any point in the hiring process, then you have a problem as an employer.

Julea: That definitely makes sense. Stacy, what’s your second story?

Stacy: In our second story, an employer wants to hire an executive-level candidate for a position with its organization. Unfortunately, the HR rep is not only “grilling” the candidates during a grueling screening process, but they’re also not answering any of the candidates’ questions about the job or opportunity.

Julea: That doesn’t sound good.

Stacy:. These were executive-level candidates who weren’t looking for a new job and had to be convinced to consider the position.

Julea: These were executives who weren’t looking for a position and then they were phone screened and were grilled by a member of the HR department?

Stacy: Correct, they were contacted about an employment opportunity, and they made the decision to pursue it. Basically, they were looking for reasons to stay in the hiring process. However, the HR rep was giving these candidates plenty of reasons to NOT stay in the process. They did not enter the hiring process so they could be “grilled.” They entered it so they could be convinced that this opportunity was the next best step in their career.

Julea: So, what did the candidates think about this?

Stacy: To put it bluntly, they had the impression that the employer had no idea how to attract and recruit top talent. In other words, the candidates believed that the organization was “out of touch” in terms of hiring and how to treat candidates. That’s exactly the opposite of how employers want to brand themselves. To tell you another quick story, I once had an employer who brought someone into an interview who wasn’t looking for a position, only to have them sit in the lobby for an hour. Then the HR Director came out and said they were too busy to interview the candidate that day and would have to reschedule. The candidate didn’t want to reschedule after that since he took time out of his busy schedule to go to the interview and then sit there and wait for an hour, only to be sent home with no interview. He felt disrespected.

Julea: I don’t blame the candidate for feeling disrespected and not wanting to reschedule the interview. This really is all about employer branding, isn’t it?

Stacy: That’s exactly right. We’ve discussed branding many times on the podcast, both in terms of personal branding and also in terms of employer branding. Essentially, both types of branding have to do with the type of experience that you provide for other people.

Julea: So in terms of employer branding, it has to do with the type of experience that the employer provides for candidates during the hiring process, including the interviewing stage of the process?

Stacy: Yes, and if an employer does not provide a positive experience—if it does not brand itself in the right way—then it greatly reduces the chances that it will hire the people that it wants to hire.

Julea: Because a candidate is not going to want to work for an employer that provides them with a bad experience!

Stacy: Of course not. Would you want to? I know that I wouldn’t. Everything about the hiring process and employer branding is about recruiting. An Animal Health company or Veterinary practice, whether it realizes it or not, is recruiting candidates with every interaction that it has with them. Either the hiring manager or other company officials are convincing the candidate to work for the organization with their words and actions . . . or they’re not.

Julea: Stacy, why do you think some hiring managers don’t realize this?

Stacy: There are multiple reasons, starting with what I like to call “employee bias.” The hiring manager, of course, works at the organization. There’s a good chance that they enjoy working there, so they can’t imagine why someone else would not want to work there. It’s a subtle bias and it’s certainly not a conscious one, but it can have an effect on an organization’s Animal Health or Veterinary hiring success.

Another reason is there are other things that hiring managers do during the course of their job. They have other duties and responsibilities, and depending upon what’s happening at the company, they may be extremely busy with these duties and responsibilities. And if that’s the case, then they might not have the time and energy to devote the amount of focus and attention that’s necessary to their Animal Health and Veterinary hiring efforts. In other words, they underestimate what it takes to successfully engage the top candidates in the marketplace and as a result, they’re not able to provide those things.

And then there’s the matter of leverage, or in this case, the illusion of leverage.

Julea: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: There are still some employers that are under the mistaken impression that they have the leverage in terms of Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. They believe, subconsciously or not, that when their organization has a job it needs to fill, candidates will flock to apply for it. That simply is not the case, especially in the Veterinary profession.

In any Animal Health or Veterinary hiring situation, the employer has just as much to prove to the candidate during the hiring process as the candidate has to prove to the employer.

Julea: Stacy, would it be safe to say that in some hiring situations, employers have even more to prove during the hiring process?

Stacy: Yes, I think it would be safe to say that. I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating. This is the tightest job market for talent in the Veterinary profession that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been an executive recruiter and  veterinary recruiter for more than 23 years. And based upon the numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Veterinary profession is expected to grow at 16% between now and the year 2029.

The talent shortage that we’re currently seeing is not going away anytime soon. In fact, there’s a chance that it’s going to get worse in three or five years. It could be worse next year, for all we know. It’s critical for employers to recognize this reality, to plan for it, and to approach the hiring process and candidates the right way.

Julea: So, what is the right way for employers to approach candidates, especially if they want top A-level candidates?

Stacy: It all starts with an understanding of current market conditions, which is what we’ve been talking about today. To recap, the organization doing the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring has just as much to prove to the candidates as the candidates have to prove to the organization.

Once an organization has that understanding, there are four things it must do during the hiring process to treat candidates the right way.

Julea: What are the four things Stacy?

Stacy: The first thing is to not “cut corners” or “skimp” on accommodations. One of the two stories that I shared today had to do with exactly that. The rule for this is simple. If you want candidates to see you as a first-class organization, then you have to brand yourself in a first-class way. Candidates are not going to see you as a Rolls-Royce if you brand yourself as a Yugo, although I’m not sure how many members of our listening audience know what a Yugo is.

Julea: You’re right about that!

Stacy: The second thing is to respect both the candidates’ time and the confidentiality of their search. These candidates are conducting their job search in a confidential fashion, and they want any employer with which they’re interviewing to keep it that way. Also, they don’t want to go on an endless number of interviews or have to endure all-day marathon interview sessions.

Julea: We’ve discussed that before, too. That is definitely negative employer branding.

Stacy: Third, communicate well and communicate often during the hiring process, letting the candidates know where they stand in the process and what the next steps are. When you think about it, these are not necessarily “big asks.” The candidates are only requesting that they be kept in the loop.

Julea: Stacy, what’s the fourth and final item?

Stacy: The fourth item is to make a compelling offer of employment to your top choice and do not attempt to low-ball the candidate. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. As an employer, you are not shopping for electronics. You’re hiring an A-player candidate for a critical position within your organization, one that likely has a tremendous impact on the bottom line.

So, if you have who you believe is the best candidate and you want to hire them, then make sure that you make your best offer.

Julea: You’re right!  So, we are just about out of time. Do you have anything else that you like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I do. I want to reiterate that employers that are having challenges with their Animal Health or Veterinary hiring efforts should consider engaging the services of a recruitment firm that has experience and a track record of success. One such firm is The VET Recruiter. We have more than 23 years of experience helping employers identify, attract, recruit, and hire the best candidates in the marketplace and we can do the same for you.

As we discussed at the top of our show, the margin for error is razor-thin right now. Animal Health companies and Veterinary practices cannot afford to make mistakes during the recruiting and hiring process, and even one mistake can be costly. So don’t take any chances. Instead, do what it takes to hire the people you want to hire for your most important, high-level positions.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. And if you are an employer listening, there is additional information The VET Recruiter website about how Stacy and her team can help you with hiring.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. We have information about our services for employers, including a detailed breakdown of our recruiting process and testimonials from Animal Health companies and Veterinary organizations that have used our services and continue to use them. We also have a list of the types of positions that we’ve placed in the past, so employers can get an idea of our capabilities and the range of our services. In addition, you can get a quote of our services, submit a job order, or request a consultation. We would be happy to speak with you about your Animal Health or Veterinary hiring needs.

And I also recommend that those who visit the website also sign up for our monthly newsletter, which also contains hiring tips and strategies. You can also follow The VET Recruiter on the various social media channels, including LinkedIn, and you can do that right from The VET Recruiter website.

Julea: Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

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