Episode #254 – Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring: Higher Starting Wages and Bigger Bonuses

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #254 - Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring: Higher Starting Wages and Bigger Bonuses
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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. In fact, 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 talking about higher starting wages and bigger bonuses in terms of Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you. I am back from the VMX show that was in sunny Orlando last week.

Julea: Welcome back Stacy! We have talked about the state of the job market on numerous occasions, and we’ve also discussed best practices for Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. It sounds as though we will be combining these two topics on today’s podcast episode.

Stacy: That is correct, we will! And I would like to start with an obvious statement, which is that top candidates in the marketplace today have most of the leverage in hiring situations.

Julea: Stacy, to recap, what do you mean specifically by having leverage?

Stacy: I mean that in many of the cases and possibly in the majority of cases, the employer looking to hire typically needs a top candidate more than that candidate needs the employer. As you can imagine, that has not always been the case in the job market.

Julea: Is the reason that these candidates have more leverage because there are more job openings and positions available in the marketplace than there are qualified candidates to fill them?

Stacy: Yes, that is the case, and it’s especially the case in the area of Veterinary medicine. And because it’s the case, the candidates who do explore other employment opportunities in the marketplace not only have more leverage, but they also have plenty of options in regards to those opportunities. And when job seekers and candidates have more options, it increases the likelihood that they’ll turn down job offers that are made to them.

Julea: Stacy, is that what you’ve been seeing in the job market these days, offers being turned down?

Stacy: Oh, absolutely. It’s been happening with regularity. Organizations are making offers of employment to candidates, only to have those candidates reject their offers. Right now, the reality of the marketplace is that employers must make an extremely attractive offer to their top choice if they want to have a chance that their offer will be accepted. This was true in years past, and it’s even more true now: you cannot low-ball a top candidate and expect to hire that candidate. It is not going to happen, and in fact, there are a few reasons why making low-ball offers can be damaging to an organization.

Julea: What reasons are those?

Stacy: First, not only will low-balling a candidate not entice the candidate to join the organization, but it will also actively dissuade them from considering your offer and your overall opportunity.

Second, you are actually branding your organization with the offers that you make to candidates during the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring process. If you make a low-ball offer to a candidate, especially a top candidate, then you are branding yourself as a low-ball employer.

And third, if you low-ball a candidate, they might do more than just reject your offer. They might also tell other people about their experience and then those candidates will also have a negative branding impression of your organization.

Julea: Stacy, earlier you said that employers must make an “extremely attractive offer.” What do you mean by that, exactly?

Stacy: I have seen instances where a solid offer or even what might be considered an adequate offer of employment did not get the job done. What I mean is that it has to be more than attractive. An attractive offer is only going to get the attention of a top candidate. In order to hire that candidate, an organization must make an “extremely attractive offer.”

Julea: So if an employer keeps getting their offers rejected . . .

Stacy: That means they are not making the best offers. And of course, when we say “extremely attractive offers,” we are talking about from the point of view of the candidate. It does not matter whether or not the hiring manager or veterinary practice owner thinks they are attractive. They could think that the offer they are making is a generous one—but if the candidate doesn’t think that is the case, then it ultimately doesn’t matter.

What the candidate thinks about the offer is the only measure of assessment that really matters in the realm of Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. With that in mind, I want to review the four main reasons why a candidate would reject an offer of employment from an organization.

Julea: Okay, great! What are those four reasons Stacy that a candidate would reject an offer?

Stacy: The first reason a candidate would reject a job offer is that the compensation contained in the offer is too low. This could be the starting salary, the sign-on bonus, or the combination of the two.

The second reason is that the candidate received and accepted a counteroffer from their current employer. When it comes to the options that a top candidate has, staying at their current job is one of those options. It is often an option that organizations looking to hire forget about.

The third reason is that the candidate received and accepted an offer from another organization, quite possibly a competitor. This is also something that organizations forget about. But if you are dealing with a top candidate, it means that candidate is open to exploring other employment opportunities. And since that is the case, they are more than likely exploring multiple opportunities and being recruited by multiple organizations.

The fourth reason that a candidate would reject an offer of employment is that the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring process was too long and drawn out.

Julea: Stacy, that fourth reason does not have anything to do with the offer itself, does it?

Stacy: It does not, and I am glad that you brought that up, because it’s a great point. For the first three reasons, a better offer might have convinced the candidate to accept it and join the organization. However, the fourth reason is different.

Even if you are prepared to make an “extremely attractive offer” to your top candidate, if the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring process drags out too much, the candidate might just drop out of the process. And if they drop out, then you do not even have the chance to “wow” them with your offer.

Julea: That really emphasizes the importance of a timely interview and hiring process, doesn’t it?

Stacy: It does! In fact, it is one of the most critical factors in an organization’s Animal Health and Veterinary hiring success—or lack of it.

Julea: Stacy, can you talk for a moment about how COVID has affected conditions in the marketplace, specifically in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession?

Stacy: Certainly, I can. There has been a candidate shortage, especially in the Veterinary profession, for the past five years at least, and probably longer than that. Before the pandemic even started, demand for qualified candidates and top talent was at an all-time high. And due to factors, that we’ve addressed before on the podcast, all the pandemic did was “pour gasoline on the fire,” so to speak. This means that demand for Veterinary care and pet-related services has grown faster due to the pandemic.

Julea: And because of that, employers need to hire even more people to keep up with increasing demand.

Stacy: Yes, that is right! The result has been one of the tightest markets for talent that I have ever seen in my career as an executive recruiter and search consultant, if not the tightest one. And because of that, it requires more to successfully woo top talent to leave their employer and possibly uproot their family and move across the country. In fact, it takes a lot just to get them to move down the street! It required a lot before the pandemic, and it requires even more now.

Julea: I imagine it takes more in the way of higher starting salaries and bigger bonuses.

Stacy: That it does. And there is an important factor in this whole situation that is not readily evident, although we did allude to it earlier.

Julea: Which factor is that, Stacy?

Stacy: It makes sense that if qualified candidates are in short supply, then organizations are going to do everything in their power to make sure they keep the top talent they do have. This is why they make counteroffers to their employees if those employees give their notice because they have accepted another offer. And even if the counteroffer that the organization makes is not quite as good as the offer the candidate has already accepted, sometimes the candidate will accept the counteroffer because they are comfortable where they are and don’t want to go through what they perceive to be the hassle of uprooting themselves with a new job.

Julea: Right, like that story or case study that we discussed recently! That was where the candidate accepted a counteroffer with their current employer even though the starting salary was $10K less and the retention bonus was $10K less.

Stacy: That is correct. That happened last year. A candidate actually accepted a counteroffer from his current employer even though the counteroffer was a total of $20K less than what another organization was offering in terms of compensation.

So, the hidden factor is that when you’re dealing with a tight market like the one we’re in, it’s even tighter than it appears because organizations are doing everything they can to retain their best employees.

Julea: It is almost as if, once the market gets to a certain point, it starts to tighten itself.

Stacy: Yes, and that is the point we’re at right now! The market is tight not just because there are far more job openings than qualified candidates, but also because there is much more competition for the candidates who do exist—including from those candidates’ current employers.

This is why it takes an “extremely attractive offer” to hire top candidates these days, and that offer must include a high starting salary and a sign-on bonus or other bonus. To say that the competition is fierce would be an understatement. I would say that it is beyond fierce. There are some employers that are desperate to find the candidates they need.

Julea: And Stacy, correct me if I am wrong, but the job market in the Veterinary profession is not going to become less tight any time soon.

Stacy: Correct. According to the latest update by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this past September, jobs in the Veterinary profession are projected to grow by 17% between the years 2020 and 2030. According to the BLS, this percentage has remained largely unchanged for the past several years, meaning the profession continues to grow in the face of world conditions, including the pandemic. Essentially, this means there will be 17% more job openings in the Veterinary profession in 2030 than there were at the end of 2020.

So, you are right—the tight conditions for Animal Health and Veterinary hiring are not going away anytime soon. In fact, based upon the current atmosphere and what the BLS is predicting for most of the next decade, conditions could become even tighter, if you can believe it.

Julea: So, what can employers do, besides making very attractive offers and not dragging out the hiring process?

Stacy: Those two things form a great starting point, for sure. However, when it comes to the offer itself, there are three crucial numbers that an organization must know.

Julea: Which numbers are those?

Stacy: The first number is the salary that the organization can afford to pay. This is standard information that a hiring manager or veterinary practice owner should have.

The second number is the current market value for the position the organization is trying to fill. This is defined by what other organizations are paying to fill similar positions with top talent.

And the third number is the exact level of compensation needed to guarantee that the organization’s offer will be accepted.

If you do not know these numbers, then your chances of the candidate accepting your offer declines drastically. This is especially the case in this current market, with the strong leverage and multiple opportunities that top candidates have.

Julea: Stacy, the number that I am curious about the most is the third one, the exact level of compensation needed to guarantee that the offer is accepted. Isn’t it illegal in some states to ask about a person’s current salary during the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring process?

Stacy: Yes and thank you for bringing that up! That is another great question. And it may not surprise you to know that one way for an organization to make sure it knows this number is by engaging the services of Animal Health recruiter or Veterinary recruiter. Since a recruiter works closely with the candidate, they would know what kind of offer the candidate would accept and what kind they would not. As a result, they could consult the employer about their offer beforehand and let the hiring manager know what kind of offer they should make and what they can expect once they do make the offer.

And there is one more thing to keep in mind when it comes to the offer of employment and an Animal Health or Veterinary recruiter.

Julea: What’s that?

Stacy: If you are working with a recruiter, then it’s important to allow the recruiter to make the offer when the time comes.

Julea: The recruiter? Why the recruiter?

Stacy: As I mentioned, the recruiter has been working closely with the candidate, and because of this, the candidate expects the recruiter to make the offer.

Unfortunately, I have seen situations where a hiring manager has insisted that they make the offer to the candidate. More than once, the candidate decided to reject the offer, partly because they were confused as to why the recruiter did not make the offer. All in all, the best way to ensure that a candidate accepts the offer is to let the recruiter make it.

Julea: That is a great point. Stacy, we are just about out of time for today. Is there anything else that you would like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, there is a saying I have about making an offer to a top candidate. And that saying is, hiring top talent is not like buying electronics. You can’t have that mindset when it comes to Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. You can not attempt to get the most value for the least amount of money.

The bottom line is this: when it comes time to make an offer to your best candidate, make your very best offer to that candidate.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information about Animal Health and Veterinary hiring in today’s marketplace. And there is additional information on The VET Recruiter website about your services for employers, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, we have plenty of information about our services for employers. This information includes a breakdown of our recruiting process, so organizations can know what to expect when they partner with us. Speaking of clients, we also have a number of testimonials from organizations that have used our services in the past and continue to use them.

And of course, I recommend to anyone who visits The VET Recruiter website to sign up for our monthly newsletter. There is a wealth of information both in our newsletter and in our blog, including hiring tips and strategies. You can also follow The VET Recruiter on the various social media channels, and you can do that right from our website, as well.

Last but not least, employers can get a quote of our services, submit a job order, or request a consultation. We would be happy to speak with any organization about their Animal Health or Veterinary hiring needs!

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, Julea and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!